On a cold January day this year, Ray and the kids and I stood with friends at Arlington National Cemetery to lay wreaths on the graves. It’s one of those things that I forgot to blog about in the middle of my no writing funk. It was surreal, standing among fallen heroes wondering how we could do anything for them. That’s when one of the speakers said that he heard once that you die twice. The first time is the moment when your heart stops beating and you take your last breath. Your second death happens the last time your name is said out loud. We were encouraged to say the names on the graves, some dating all the way back to the Revolutionary War so that these heroes wouldn’t die on that day.
Today marks three years that Tye Wheeler Jackson hasn’t been able to call me and insist that I watch a dumb video no matter what I might have been doing at that moment. It’s been three years since I’ve been able to send him a text bragging on something the kids have done. It’s been three years since he rubbed his hands together and then went straight for the back of his head. Three years… it was the blink of an eye and a lifetime. In three years, he’s missed the kids growing up. I didn’t get to introduce my dad to my kids. I know he would’ve eaten them up. He didn’t get to know them like Tye did. I often think about what Tye would say if he saw Arleigh performing on a football field, or Hanan singing in play or Bria playing soccer or Jack’s huge lego creations. He would be so excited to see how much they are growing and changing. The turd. He’s still making me mad because he’s gone far too soon.
Recently Mom was blessed to hear someone say Tye’s name again. Sweet friends called to her to let her know that they happened to meet someone who knew Tye. That person had been forever changed for the better because of Tye. It’s not my story to tell but it’s super comforting to hear how many people loved him and how many lives he changed. The stories about Tye will go on forever.
So today, on the anniversary of my little brother’s death, I’d ask you to say the names of the people you’ve loved and lost. Don’t let them die again. If you have a story about Tye, I’d love to hear it and so would Mom. Feel free to post them in the comments.