May 05 - Cinco de Mayo

For much of the world, May 5th signifies victory and independence.  To others, it’s a great excuse to break out the margaritas and party.  To some, it’s just another day in a long list of days.  To me, it’s the day my oldest brother, Vern, was born (05/05/55), and the day our lives were forever changed when my Cowboy broke his neck and back (05/05/05).

On this particular May 5th (2014), I vacillate between incredible sadness that I will never get to celebrate my brother’s birthdate with him again and great joy that my Cowboy can still swagger.  Through the sadness and joy, I am reminded that God is good and God is in control.

My big brother was fun, irritating, brilliant in many ways, stupid in a few, talented, loyal and generous.  While the age difference between us didn’t foster closeness during the early years, he was protective and kind.  When my mom and best friend passed away almost 10 years ago, he graciously allowed me to cling to him as a surrogate and our relationship blossomed.  Mind you, he did complain about it, but it was his nature to grumble and tease unmercifully and the more he grumbled, the more cherished you felt.

Our family has an irreverent sense of humor and an irrational fear of expressing our feelings.  I worried about Vern living alone after Mom was gone, so our code for “all is well on the home front ”, “I love you” and “I miss you” was verbalized with the infamous Monty Python quote, “I am not dead yet.”   This phrase was such a huge part of our lives for 10 years.  It covered a lot of emotions – it was kind of like the “aloha” of the Blanchard family.  In fact, the musical version of that statement from “Spamalot” was his ring tone when he called.

Last May 5th, we celebrated his overcoming all odds.  After over four months in the hospital, he was home and things were going to be okay. We never anticipated or considered that we would say goodbye to him so soon afterwards.  I still struggle with letting him go.  He remains one of my ‘favorites’ in my phone contacts and I can’t bring myself to delete it, even though his number no longer works.

Someday, I will tell you about my Cowboy and the significance of this date for him.  For today, I just need to remember my brother, to relive memories in the past and contemplate the preciousness of each moment that God grants us.

Over the last year, I have often wished I could talk to him just one more time.  And I know exactly what I would tell him.   “I am not dead yet.”
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