"and mannnnyyyyy moreeeee"

you know that part in the birthday song, when someone always sings, "and mannnnnyyyy moreeeee" at the end? I always thought it was tacky - an unnecessary attention-seeking addition to a classic. but now, as I'm celebrating my first "never any more", I can't help but wish I had sang it to you more often. I would always go back and be that tacky person singing that tacky addition if I had the chance. November 10th has always meant breakfast in bed, binge watching home videos as per your request and tuna noodle casserole or chicken and waffles for dinner (gag. but you don't get to argue with the birthday boy). and, of course, pumpkin pie for dessert.

this year, there was no breakfast in bed. there were only the memories as I woke up missing you. there was no warm body to hold, hug or slather with birthday kisses. the happiness was replaced with nostalgia and the gifts were replaced by tears. I've never had to celebrate a memory before. it feels empty. but I will always celebrate. because, despite the fact that you're not here, Kev, this day will always belong to you. it will always be a day to remember all of your happy memories, your wide-eyes as you opened your gifts and the pure bliss written on your face as you enjoyed that first bite of pumpkin pie smothered in whipped cream.

today, I baked you a cake. it's a pumpkin protein cake that actually turned out better than expected. you probably would have hated it, given that it was "healthy" and all. but, I added chocolate chips, just for you. you're not here to eat it, so, Patrick's stuck eating the rest (although, he's not arguing).

today, I spent a lot of time remembering.

I remember you, as a tiny little guy with big chubby cheeks and that beautiful bowl cut. you were always laughing. always running around. always happy to put up with my big-sister bossiness. I remember family vacations at the beach - you running toward the waves only to turn around before ever reaching the surf, screaming all the way back to dry sand. you were always the happiest, despite what life (or what I) threw at you.

I remember always having you as my shadow...and loving every second of it. you made me a "mom" at the age of two and a half and I couldn't have been happier. you were my biggest fan, and I'll never find another quite as forgiving and unforgettable as you. thanks for being my No.1 fan Kevster. I'll spend the rest of my life as yours.

I remember always being the very best friends. I'm sure mom can remember a few arguments, but I remember the fun and mutual trouble we got into far outweighing any sibling rivalry. I remember our blanket forts, chocolate milk creations and dress up dates. I even remember being grounded and communicating through the air vents in our rooms…because 10 minutes without each other was pure boredom. you were the best friend a big sister could ever have asked for.

I remember all the times we spied on mom and dad, together. got into trouble together. dressed up for halloween together. drove to school together. went Christmas shopping together. went running together (although, that may have been against your will. I remember some negotiating on that one.) I miss being together with you.

I remember your "big brother" attitude. telling me when a skirt was too short. berating me for trying to microwave a metal bowl (although, in my defence, it had a rubber bottom), or giving me a stern talking too about being too picky when it came to men. Patrick thanks you for that - otherwise, I might never have given him the chance to steal my heart. I remember, even through the awkward years, you always being someone I could trust and confide in.

Most of all, I remembered how much I miss you. every day. I remembered how much of you I carry with me everywhere I go. how hollow and broken I feel without you and how warm and happy to always made me feel. how vital you were to my every breath and how excruciating it is to do life without you. I will always hold on to these memories Kev. forever and always. You were, and always will be, so much more than just a brother.

Happy Birthday baby brother. you'd be 24 today. and I wish more than anything you were here to celebrate along with me, but for now, I'll remember. remember and celebrate by watching home videos with a bowl of cereal in-hand. because, you'd have it no other way. I love you KJ.