Before it happened I would have called my family normal. I had just turned fifteen and was on the honor roll. I had plenty of friends, girls and guys. I was busy with soccer and basketball. Somehow I found time to be on the soccer team this year. I hope I can keep up with three sports.
My mom is a nurse and works at an orthopedics office. She likes working there because she has a more regular schedule than nurses who work in hospitals. I try to help her as much as my busy schedule allows and she appreciates everything I do. Nothing like the horror stories I hear from some of my friends.
My dad works in an insurance office. Sometimes he has to work nights or part of the weekend, but he tries to be home with us as much as he can. He goes to most of my home games and likes to kick around a ball with me. He played soccer in college and always ends up telling me stories about when he played in the NCAA tournament one year.
Both of my parents are good listeners. Even when I do something to get myself in trouble, they don’t jump down my throat but let me at least try to explain what happened. They don’t have to punish me. I feel bad enough when I disappoint them.
My brother Luke was born almost four years ago. I never thought I would have a little sister or brother. I felt embarrassed when I learned Mom was pregnant. I never thought much about my parents having sex, but here she was with a baby bump.
My parents were both excited when he was born. I wasn’t so sure about it. I was used to having all the attention and quite enjoyed it. Maybe my parents would forget I was there and spend all their time with the baby. I don’t think they knew how I felt. I tried to be cheerful, but in the back of my mind I wondered what it would be like having a baby around the house.
The nice thing about pregnancy is that you have nine months to get ready for a change. Our spare bedroom became a nursery. Baby furniture started to arrive. All my parents could talk about was whether the baby would be born on time.
He was and everything went fine. I didn’t look forward to him coming home from the hospital with my mom. When they finally arrived, I fell in love with Luke. I was not surprised that my parents just watched him by the hour as he goo-good or rolled around and even when he cried. What surprised me was that I did the same thing. I was fascinated by everything he did although he never did anything too dramatic.
I watched him learn to turn over, pull himself up on furniture, stand in his wobbly way, and finally take his first uncertain steps. I almost felt like he was my own baby and I never minded watching him when my parents had something to do.
One morning when he was about one and a half the house was very quiet, even after Luke’s usual wake-up time. My mother went into the nursery to check on him.
The next moment, I heard my mother scream and rushed into the nursery to see what was wrong. My mother held Luke tight and I could see that his face and hands were gray rather than pink. We rushed him to the hospital but it was too late.
We never learned why he died. The doctor called it sudden infant death syndrome, something that just happens to some babies. That was no comfort to any of us. All the joy had gone out of our house and an eerie stillness settled in, none of us with much to say to each other.
That was two years ago. Each of us carries Luke’s memory around and sometimes we talk about him, usually with at least a few tears. I will never forget him. I have continued with my sports but sometimes it’s hard to put everything into them. My parents avoided each other for a while and I wondered what would become of them and their marriage. They are talking again now.
What we were all left with was an appreciation for whatever amount of life we are given. None of us is ever tempted to take each other for granted. I am grateful for the time Luke had with us and for our having had him in our lives at least for a little while.
From Make the Best of Your Teen Years: 105 Ways to Do It