Today would have been 3′s 23rd birthday. Last year, I didn’t have much time to focus on the implications his birthday, as it was only 2 months after his death and I spent the entire day interviewing for Dream Job. This year, I am safely ensconced in a relaxing weekend, my thoughts unimpeded by any big life changes.
I remember turning 23. It’s not one of the common milestone ages, but it still felt significant – the first “non-college” age. When you’re 23, you’re really expected to be an adult, to be out of school, to know what you want to do with your life. As he got himself kicked out of college pretty quickly, it’s unlikely that 3 would have had his entire life together by today. Still, as February came to an end, I was stuck by a newfound appreciation for all he’ll never be.
Last year was all about learning to live without the brother I knew, the younger brother who was slowly growing into manhood, yet still very much within an age range in which frat boys and party animals abound. Now, as each year passes, I’ll be confronted with another age that 3 will never see, and one in which I’ll never see him.
I won’t get to see 3 as a 23-year-old, figuring out his life, or as a 35-year-old, maybe starting a family, or as a 50-year-old, part of the “older” generation, but still tearing up the dance floor at his niece’s wedding reception. Taking into account the average male lifespan, I’ve been robbed of well over 50 years of my brother’s company. [No joke - Only the Good Die Young just came up on my iTunes shuffle. We've had this conversation, dude, you know this song doesn't apply to you!]
Song choice notwithstanding, I’m both bitter and sad at all the ages 3 will never reach. My sisters and I will, God-willing, grow old, experiencing all that life has to offer at different ages. 3, in turn, will remain forever 21. I’ll never see him grow up, and he won’t be there with me to commiserate about gray hairs and aching joints, filing taxes and buying houses. 21 is far too young to die. It just is.