A brother I never knew

Mom held her life close to herself, reluctant to drop pearls or bittersweet memories. My living brother and I knew all our lives he’d been a twin whose brother had died in infancy. Mom did not talk about it much at all. Only recently my brother brought it up again. I live in the town where his grave is. I went to the cemetery. I had no idea the effect this visit would have.

Under the reaching branch of a red oak is a small, rectangular inlaid stone. May 1, 1957 – June 2, 1957. I did not even know he had only lived one month. I tore out a few stray meanderings of Bermuda grass, blew off the weeds. I asked the curator if I could please have a flower urn placed at his grave.

Yesterday, a few weeks after, I bought a styrofoam form and some pretty silk flowers and made a blue-and-white arrangement. I brought it to the gravesite. As promised the little stone had an urn installed at its head. I opened the urn and inverted the inserted stopper and placed the arrangement in. I knelt before the little stone and gently stroked my fingers over the letters of his name, the letters of my mother and father’s names. And I wept. I spoke softly to this little one’s tangible memory, asking whether he had grown up and was now the same age as his brother? Did he know of us? Could he please tell our parents how very much we miss them? Will he know how much we missed in not growing up with him, not knowing him? I wished for what never was and hoped for what will be someday, that whenever our days are lived my brother and I will someday meet this member of our family and bring us to a completeness, a wholeness that his little stone is now a mention of only what never was here in this life.

For whatever reason he was only here for so few moments, someday we will share with him a forever.

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