Happy Birthday, Eye-Shy

Dear Eye Shy,

Today, you would have been 43 years old. I haven’t publicly written to you in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about you. You are often in my thoughts. You’re still saved as one of my “favorites” on the contacts list on my phone. From time to time, I call your phone and listen to your voicemail just to hear your voice. Now that your phone has been disconnected though, I can’t do that anymore. I still remember being in the waiting room the night you passed away, worried sick about how your kids were going to be doing. When they showed up and appeared to be doing okay, I was relieved. I remember your son Tripp asking Mark, “so what are you going to do with her phone? Sell it?” It was a much-needed moment of levity.

Since you left us, we have become closer to your incredible group of friends. As you know, we all got together for dinner and copious amounts of drinks a few months after you left us. You leave behind a very cool crew. It still fills me with pride to see how many lives you touched while you were with us. While I’ll never be as cool as you were, at least I can brag about being your baby brother.

Tonight, we all got together in Gulfport to wish you a happy 43rd birthday. Mark organized it all. He has been doing an amazing job with everything. Ellie and Tripp are doing well considering the circumstances. I know Mother’s Day was probably difficult and now your birthday. But Mark has had a plan and is doing a standup job.

For me, things are bittersweet. Amelia had her first birthday just yesterday. Today was her original due date. I know how excited you were about that. She’s a smiling, laughing bundle of joy. You would be so proud. And everything she and Kohl do that is new is exciting yet punctuated with a little sadness that you aren’t here to experience it. But I know you are with us in some way.

On a number of occasions, Kohl has woken up between the hours of 3:00 – 4:00 a.m. cracking up laughing. I’m 100% sure he is talking to you. I don’t know what you two are talking about but keep it up.   Kohl is not yet and may never be verbal. He has global brain damage and a host of challenges. But I choose to believe that beneath the mask of disability lies an amazing soul that is somehow more in touch with you than the rest of us.

I miss you so much. I really don’t think a day has gone by when you have not popped in my head. Months after you passed, I thought I was holding up pretty well, but then I went and visited your grave site alone. It was the first time I had with you alone. I broke down in tears. And you know how manly I am and how difficult it is for me to cry. But I sure did need that.

Happy 43rd birthday, eye-shy. I miss you so much.


Baby Brother

P.S. Thanks for the parking spot in Sausalito, California. Good looking out!


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4 Responses to Happy Birthday, Eye-Shy

  1. Julie says:

    Got my waterworks going this morning, Andy. I just had a visit with my baby brother (only brother) so your piece made me think of him. The loss of a sibling is devastating to say the least. I agree that our kiddo’s sense our loved ones who are in the spiritual realm much more than we do. I’ll think of you today.

    • Andy Chrestman says:

      Julie, thanks! Didn’t you touch on that in your book? The concept that special needs children seem to have mysterious connections to the unseen? Thought I remembered reading that in your beautiful book. If not, maybe it can be in the sequel.

  2. Janis McCormick says:

    What a tribute to your sister! You are a beautiful writer and Allison would be proud. She lives in the lives of so many people, myself included. Keep her memory alive and she will live on for all of us.

    • Andy Chrestman says:

      Thanks so much for saying that. I think about her every day, and it’s nice to see how big of an impact she had on others. Enjoyed hearing about you in the most recent Bell by the way!

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