“You are going to be fifteen tomorrow,” I said to Robert, sitting on my bed last night.
“It will be my first birthday without Andrew,” he said after a while.
I had thought the same thought. I hugged him tight and in vain wished that I could take this pain away from him.
I remembered his first birthday, in February 1996. Hugh had bought a scrumptious chocolate ganache cake, six year-old Andrew and eight year-old Florentina had written birthday cards for both Robert and Alexander.
The card for Robert’s twin was stapled to the string of a blue, helium filled balloon. Holding Robert in my arms, Florentina and Andrew on either side of Hugh, we went outside to the front lawn. We stood in a circle for a few moments, then I gently prised the balloon’s string from Robert’s little fingers and released it to the heavens with our birthday wishes for Alexander.
Four months earlier, at seven and half months old, Robert’s twin had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. For months Robert looked for his twin, and whenever he saw another baby he would get all excited.
The first Christmas after Alexander died, after school one afternoon, Andrew burst through the door, his face flashed with excitement, and ran up to me.
“I know how we can get Alexander back,” Andrew said. “We can ask Father Christmas to bring him back.”
While it did not erase the sadness, the passage of time and the work we did to raise money and awareness for SIDS eventually brought us peace and acceptance. But Robert, even though he no longer remembers his twin, always felt that his was the biggest loss.
Over the years, particularly as they both grew older, Robert and Andrew developed a close relationship.
Whenever Andrew came back from college before anything else, he would look for his “wee Robert,” wee is little in Scottish.
Andrew used to like sneaking one or two magic candles on Robert’s birthday cake, then laugh watching Robert blow them out only to see them light up again.
Even when he was away at college in Philadelphia, before he transferred to NYU, Andrew came home for his little brother’s birthday.
But this year he is not coming. Not in person any way.
We have some beautiful framed pictures of him, we have our memories. And I am sure that Andrew will be present in spirit. And who knows, he might even find a way of letting us know that he is with us.
Happy Birthday Dear Robert.