To the first little boy in my life

Sep 24

You were my best friend’s brother.  Coming from family of all girls as I did, you were an anomaly in my world.  A boy.

You were aloof with me but we mattered to each other.  You were rambunctious and could build a terrific obstacle course in the basement.  Those were fun; yesterday — your birthday — I built one with my girls and I told them about you.

Playdates at my house would involve my sisters.  Pressure to share, play nice, include them and let them share our fun was the rule of the house.  Playdates at your house were magic for I could share in your sister’s treasures and we could play all alone for hours.  You hardly gave us a passing glance.  Unless you were bored, and then I still giggle at the shriek you could invoke out of your otherwise-calm-and-rational sister.

Halloween was our holiday during our formative years.  Dads and kids from three families equals six little girls and you.  Each year as I dress my children for Halloween, I tell them about you and how you were the one boy and one of the youngest, but also one of the fastest.  Our Halloweens were about amassing candy as quickly as possible.  We treated it like a race, and you were always good at competition.  We would pile in the back of the van… seatbelts, schmeatbelts, and the dads would say, “This car can’t move until I have a Reese Cup!”  Immediately we would dig into our pillow-case bags and they would get pelted with seven Reese Cups flying from the back.  So.  Much.  Laughing.  Our collective favorite year was the year we were the seven dwarfs.  We were adorable, and you were a good sport.

Your parents were the only ones who would do “crazy driving.”  They would swerve the car idly back and forth forcing us to the left and right in the backseat as we carpooled together.  Again, the laughter sticks with me.  On the way to soccer there was a big hill and you always cheered for “The Monker (Monster) Hill” as we drove over and down it.

You couldn’t seem to sit close enough to the television when sports were on.  I don’t think I ever saw you actually sitting on the furniture in your family room.  You always had giant pillows arranged on the floor, and you would lay on your back to watch the game.

The game was your life.  Watching it, playing it, living it.  You did it well buddy.

I got to see your family when you were here: your mom decorated your room with the most adorable boy taste, and she wore matching colors in support of your team to every sporting event you ever played in.  She wore you as her pride and joy.  Your dad coached you, refereed you, trained you, and applauded you.  He lived a work hard work ethic, and you took after him in that way.  You had a push-shove, love-pester, laugh-whine relationship with your sister in the years that I knew you.  You would have (mostly) grown out of that, but I know you would still make her shriek on occasion as adults.  And I think that’s okay because she really does have great reactions and it’s not your fault she is so fun to tease.

Your family lost you more than a decade ago, but that time seems to have gone by in a blink.  You are written on our hearts and we carry you with us.  Your family has chosen to be better because you were here rather than dissolve because they lost you.  They have allowed their sorrow to be defined by your presence rather than your absence, and they celebrate life with and without you.  They do grief well, and the legacy that lasts is the enduring strength of the love of family.  You would be proud: you are the MVP of their team.

Cheers to happy memories and the love of family!


  1. Julie Talford /

    love this story….and the way you tell it.

  2. Beautifully said Jen! You were quite the group of six with all your adventures! We miss our buddy!

  3. What an amazing tribute. You remember such vivid details from your childhood and paint these stories so clearly! Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing. Tears are streaming down my face for a person I never met.

  4. Diana Gibson /

    Again you astound with your insight, your comprehension of life and love and how they are intrinsic to our days. Power on Jen, you deserve only the best as you remind us all to consider our lives and memories, to share with our loved ones.

  5. Brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of the boy next door from when I was little. Thank you for bringing back my own memories. Beautifully written as always.

  6. Wow…what great memories and a wonderful tribute to your friends brother!

  7. Beautiful, lovely, touching story. Even though the tears are streaming, I am grateful to have read this.

  8. Beautiful!

  9. Aunt Annie /

    Ditto to all of the other ladies’ comments. Thank you for sharing this, what a beautiful a tribute.

  10. Darlene Cliff /

    So beautifully expressed in words, but felt so real as you relayed this memory.

  11. Cheers & Gratitude to you, Jen! From the opening title to the final toast, I was smiling through my tears! Your touching, precise recollections & amazingly heartfelt tribute will remain in my heart forever as will that “first little boy!” Sincere thanks for your inspiring & comforting words!

  12. Michelle /

    Love this tribute! It was a privilege to grow up with all of you!!!!

  13. Kelly Burns /

    Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Kyle, Jen. Your beautiful writing vividly reminded me of so many fun memories that we all had growing up together. The 7 dwarfs Halloween costumes will go down in history as some of the cutest costumes ever. Kyle was a good sport surrounded by all of the girls! You’re right, I was that easy to tease sister who was also one of his #1 fans. Like you said, my brother is still written on my heart and carried with me everyday. Thanks for your beautiful reminder!

  14. Kelly Burns /

    Thank you, Jen, for writing such a beautiful tribute to Kyle! This brought happy tears to my eyes thinking of the many wonderful memories that we all shared together during our childhood. Your vivid descriptions took me back feeling like it was just yesterday that he was watching his sporting events on the family room pillows and awaiting the “Monker Hill” as we rounded the bend near Keehner Park. Our Halloweens together were definitely the best holidays and the year of the 7 Dwarfs costume theme was the best I can remember. We were all so cute in our beards and pillows stuffed under our sweatshirts….and Kyle was a good sport for hanging around with all of us girls. This sister definitely was easy to tease and looking back I loved every minute of those times with Kyle. You’re right…my brother is still written on my heart and carried with me each day. Thanks for this reminder of so many special times with family and friends!

  15. Beautiful, Jen!!! I love this!!