Another August 5.  Another birthday.  Without you.

I keep trying to focus on the happy thoughts, the good memories.  Shipwreck Island.  The water park in Dothan.  Somehow, water was always involved in your birthday, wasn't it?   Yet all I can remember right now is Rick not wanting to have another birthday without his brother.  "I can't do it, Mom.  I can't have a birthday without my brother.  Please don't make me celebrate, not like they did last year."  That party was a disaster, wasn't it?  But we made it through it, together.  We made it through.  And I'll make it through this one.  For you.
I remember those tiny red heads, unable to be still, even as newborns.  Kicking out of the blankets.  Squirming until you were touching.  Unable to be apart.  Jason, my strong, steady leader.  Rick, my quiet, capable healer.  As different as day is from night, yet so incredibly alike.  I remember your "father's" mother, telling me red hair with blue eyes was ugly.... and her realizing her mistake long before my tirade ended.  You were barely a day old.  She was the first to bring out the Mother Lion in me. 
I remember you "kating, Mommy, kating" on the kitchen floor, where you'd poured the Crisco oil.  Rick, you distracted me, while Jason poured the oil on the floor.  Then the fun began.  You'd just turned 2.
I remember your language, unique to the two of you.  Did you still speak it, after you were grown?  You certainly did as wee ones.  I can close my eyes and see  you, J, barreling in head first where an Angel would fear to go, Rick right behind you, trusting his big brother to always lead the right way, babbling away, with everyone else clueless about what you were saying.
My quiet, capable Rick.  "Mommy, did you hear that big noise?".  I was making lunch.  You were at Vacation Bible School.  "What noise, sweetie?".  "That big noise, Mommy".  So calm.  So contained.  My little man.  "Sweetie, Mommy didn't hear a noise.".  "You didn't hear that big noise that car made when it ran over my brother?". 
I ran out the front door like a bat out of Hell.  You turned off the oven and the stove, called your Grandmother, locked the house, and walked back down to the church in time for the ambulance to arrive.  You were 6.
I see two red heads, bent intently over the blonde baby held so carefully in your arms.  You didn't know I was there.  "I'll love you forever.".  A hug, a kiss.  "I'll always take care of you.".  "We're your big brothers, you know.".
You were 8.    And so were born my three Musketeers.  My two red heads, with a blonde in the middle.... Jason, Leslie and Rick.
Today, for Jason and Rick, Leslie Ann and I are going bungee jumping.  Our boys wanted to take us, but we never went.  We should have.  We're doing it today.  Scared silly, but doing it anyway.
We're going to drink a glass of good red wine, for Jason, and something fruity frou frou, for Rick.  
We are going to laugh.  A lot.  Out loud.  Because we love them.  Because we miss them.
We are going to LIVE.  Because, if the past six years have taught us nothing else, they have taught us the value of LIFE.  They have taught us that the things that matter are not things. 
Today, for Jason and Rick, remember:
When you love someone, tell them.   When you miss someone, tell them.   When you fubar, say "I'm sorry".  See the beauty in a hurricane.  Color outside of the lines.  Dance.  Sing.  Play in mud puddles.  Laugh.  Love.  LIVE.  Live your life.  You never know when it will be gone.  You never know when those that you love more than life will be gone.   Cherish your friends.  Eat ice cream.  For breakfast.  LISTEN.  Not to the words.  To what people are saying.  Those fingerprints on the wall that you need to clean, and the furniture that needs dusting?  They'll still be there tomorrow.  Take your child to the beach, or the park, or for a walk around the block.  Have a slumber party.  Even if you're a "grown up".  And remember.... never go straight.  Always move forward.
Maximum respect,
Brenda, always Red's & Red Man's Mom