Happy Birthday! Today you would have been 48 years old! Wow, that sounds really old, huh? I turned 40 in August and I can only imagine what you would have done had you been here being such a practical joker. It wasn’t all that great as most special days aren’t anymore. I missed you and dad so badly. It seems nothing has the excitement it once did. So, are you and daddy enjoying the freedom from pain and bouncing from cloud to cloud? I know you were so tired there at the end. I don’t blame you for leaving. I know I did for a long time. I’ve been thinking about our life and all I can say is I am one of the luckiest girls in the world to have known you for 15 years. You will never know how much you taught me about life and unconditional love. My mind has played everything over and over kind of like a movie reel. I have laughed and I have cried. We had so many good times and of course some rough times in that last few years. I’m glad there was never a fight between us and no harsh words. I have no regrets when it comes to our relationship as siblings. Mama misses you to this day. She has really nearly grieved herself to death and quite honestly I think she wishes she would have went on when she had her accident. Life has been really sad since you left. Daddy’s death nearly killed me and sometimes I wonder if it still won’t. I cry because I miss you guys so much. I do wonder if you are smiling down on me though because sometimes I can you both so strongly. You know after you passed daddy put all of his grief into caring for others. He worked for free at the funeral home helping Diana with funerals and counseling families. He cared for the cemetery without wanting anything in return. Your grave was always the most beautiful in the place. It really is peaceful out there and I go often to talk to you. I look back on our years growing up and remember how protective you were of me. With there being 8 years in between us you were more of a dad instead of a brother. You were my rock during so many struggles. Without you I would have never made it through mom and dad’s struggle to recover from the addiction to pain killers. That was one of the roughest patches we had. I look back and think about the day you left to go on tour with that band….it broke my heart. I knew it was your dream and you were the best drummer EVER. Oh yeah thanks for teaching me how to play. You know I got a lot of dates that way over the years. Not funny, huh? Remember watching Friday the 13th? You had already watched it so you knew how it ended and you nearly gave me a heart attack grabbing me from behind when Jason jumped up out of the water!!! You laughed for days over that. Remember when our house burnt right after Christmas? You took your whole week’s paycheck and took me Christmas shopping since all of my stuff burnt up. Living in that motel room for almost a year really brought us all so much closer as a family. I will never forget those days! Us all cramped up in a little room together fighting over who got to sleep where and who took a shower first all in fun. Ha, those were the days when we got so excited to RENT a VCR and some videos to watch. OMG you wouldn’t believe how far things have come. We have DVR’s and Bluerays. Sounds crazy huh? No more cassette tape players either. It’s all Mp3 players and new cell phones. Yep, you never had one of those or even heard of them. Insane, right? Above all I remember the day we found out. I remember the sirens blaring in my head and knowing that something was wrong with you. I remember the look on your face when mom and dad had to tell you that you may not live three weeks. My world kind of went black. I don’t remember the following week. It was a blur. The journey began. All the trips back and forth to Nashville for chemo and the hospital stays really got tiring. You didn’t let it get to you though. I can still remember you being so sick from treatments and vomiting all the way home. You would lay down in the backseat and put your head in my lap and I would hold the pan for you. You never complained…not one time in almost four years. I think back to the time when your hair starting falling out and you decided to just shave it all off. You wore that red bandana like a champ!!! I saved that thing and it is still in a box in Aunt Jean’s house. Do you remember all the picnics and gatherings we had? It was tons of family and friends and so much food. Remember the water fight we got into at Danny’s house? How he was trying to run away from you and he tripped over the water hose and fell? You laughed so hard. I remember the day you thought you would teach me to drive a stick shift too!!! I can picture daddy’s face when he came outside to see his pinto sitting in the side of the house! I told you I couldn’t do it!!! Oh yea, remember the night you, me, Robbie, and Joy lynn decided to make a cassette tape of completely insane things thinking that it would make you boys comedians? You sand King Tut while Robbie danced around with toilet paper wrapped around his body! You two were nuts! I still think about you and Mark putting the cat in the mailbox and nearly giving the mailman a heart attack! I don’t think I have ever heard of a mailman quitting his job because of two rowdy boys playing pranks on him. Oh man those were the good times. I miss them all. I miss your smile, your laugh, and your hugs. I miss having someone to talk to about anything. You touched the lives of so many people. I remember Brandon, the young boy across the hall from you. You two would have them wheel you room to room so you could talk. He told me you had changed his life in so many ways. The night he passed he asked that they open the door so he could see you. You helped him ease out of the world with a smile on his face. Your nurse Rita gave up her job to come live with us just to care for you…that is dedication. Your doctor who was straight laced and to the point ended up wearing polka dot ties and coming in to see you on his days off just because!! I laugh when I think about the guys from your band coming to visit you. They couldn’t find the right parking lot so they parked in an adjacent lot and ended up wading through a creek just to see you! It was hilarious. You guys laughed and played a tape that you all had recorded. It was a good day for you. They had written a song about you and they stood there in the hospital and played it for you. The tears fell down your cheeks. Do you remember Thanksgiving and Christmas and how we had our own little celebration in the hospital room? Members from the church, people from the community, and family members cooked tons of food and drove nearly two hours to bring it to us and share the day with us. The homemade Christmas tree made out of construction paper was the best tree ever. Those were the happy moments. The week you left me was one of the worst of my life. I stayed in the hospital with you day and night. I went to the chapel and I prayed so hard that God would take me instead of you. I asked him that if he really existed to just spare your life. I fully believed you would be okay. The day before you slipped into a coma I remember you taking my hand and writing in it. You told me you would see me again someday. I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe and you wiped my tears away. You never spoke to me again. The night you left I had decided to go up to the gym and take a shower. I remember your nurse Rita coming to get me. The expression on her face told it all. She told me I had to get back to the room immediately because your breaths were becoming shallow. My heart raced and I could feel myself hyperventilating. We ran as fast as we could and all I can remember is saying “GOD NO NOT NOW. PLEASE DON’T TAKE HIM AWAY FROM ME!!!” I walked in the room, sat down in the chair beside you, took your hand in mine, and laid my head on your chest. I felt your hand tighten up on mine and then you breathed in and out…..just like that you were gone. You left me. I laid there and sobbed like a baby. I laid there until they pulled me away from you. I looked down on you and you had the prettiest smile on your face. I was at complete peace. I knew in that moment that all your pain was gone but mine was only beginning. The day we buried you I buried a piece of my heart and soul with you. You would have been so pleased to see how many people came to say goodbye to you. The church was completely full and they were lined up out the door. I saw more tears shed that day than I have have in my entire life. You were loved more than you will ever know!!! I wouldn’t bring you back because I wouldn’t want you to be in pain but I would give anything if I could spend just one more day with you. I wish you could see your nieces and nephew. You wanted kids so badly. I named my son after you and believe me he carries your spirit with him. He is caring, funny, and independent. I have showed them pictures of you and talk about you all of the time. I feel they know you because I have kept you alive in my heart. There are so many things I would love to tell you but I am sure you are having a much better time where you are. I just wanted to take a few minutes to tell you Happy Birthday and let you know that you remain in my heart now and forever. I love you to the moon and back. Thank you for being the best big brother a girl could ever have.
I love you Bubby!
*Christopher Aaron Ray*
September 18th 1965 to March 29th 1989