There is a house a block away from mine that at Christmastime reminds me of my brother.
You may think this is odd, seeing as it's not our house and I don't even know who lives there and I had never even seen it until 12 years after Manny died. But, it reminds me of what our house looked like and felt like on his last Christmas with us. It's not because we had the same moving reindeer, or the same wreath or the same lights. To be honest, I have no idea what it is exactly that makes this house so special. But, for whatever reason, it reminds me of moments, memories and feelings. It reminds me of Manny.
I remember how excited Manny was that Christmas. He was home and we were happy. I remember how he kept asking dad to put up more and more and more lights on the house. And I remember that at one point while we were decorating, a neighbor came out to put up more lights and Manny said (to my sisters and me, not the neighbor): "You think you can beat us. We'll put up more lights than you." And we did. It was my very favorite Christmas.
And so, at Christmastime for the last two years, I have found myself standing in front of that house at night when all of the lights are on, and crying. Because, beyond all possible reason, I want it to be December 1994, and I want to be decorating the house with my brother, and I want to still believe, with all my heart, that a world without him in it simply cannot exist. That his death is, literally, impossible, implausible, and unimaginable. I want the hope that he will live. I miss that hope. I miss my Manny. So very, very much.