Number 10 — Lawrence and Taylor

Today is our tenth birthday.

The last time I saw my brother, we had to be separated. And the time before that, I bit his ear off; and he broke my tooth. And though it’s been almost a couple years since he said goodbye to this earthly plane, I think of him often.

Especially on this day, our day.

Hi, my name is Taylor. And my brother’s name is Lawrence.
Happy birthday, Lawrence.

For the past six plus years, I’ve lived with my papa Cecil. Before that I lived with Lawrence and my papa George. After four years, my brother and I had to be separated. I was sad to leave my papaG, at the time angry with my brother. In time, I would come to love papa Cecil and now I just call him papa. He’s been there with me and for me through everything.

Papa and I have had a great many adventures. We lived on the sixth floor of a condo in Chicago with floor-to-ceiling windows so I could watch over the Gotham City, the perfect companion to The Dark Knight. We enjoyed the company of all those who visited us in Chicago, whether they lived in that great city or not. We watched many football games together and even though I was a New York Giants fan, I rooted alongside my papa as his NINERS won and lost — we had some great years rooting for San Francisco from Chicago. I remember both papas coming together with my mama Kathleen watching football together, especially our epic NINERS & Giants games. Turning to college, I could agree with my papa on Notre Dame football — 2012 was a magical year. And during baseball season, we could both root, root, root for the Cubbies as well, even having season tickets one year. We celebrated with family and friends at dinner parties and Christmas trees, the smell of pine permeating our air for months whether it was December or not. From our view overlooking Randolph Street, I could see the rain fall and snow fall, sunny skies and blue skies and cloudy skies, sunsets and sunrises, trees amidst a concrete jungle.

Then one day, we left. We drove from Chicago to San Francisco when papa decided to leave one company he loved for another that he came to love, after saying goodbye to Ammachi & Appachen in Indianapolis, stopping in Lawrence, KS, because it just felt right that we should stop there. We continued driving all over Colorado & Utah stopping to hike and to camp, with our last stop at Reno, NV. We finally arrived in the city by the Bay only to find that we couldn’t find a place a live. My papa would never say it out loud, but I knew I was part of the problem. It would take two months living in a hotel in San Rafael, but we finally found a home in beautiful Sausalito, where we’ve been ever since.

Every day here involves nature, sometimes long beautiful hikes, sometimes running down hills chasing after tennis balls, sometimes going to the office to bring home the bacon. We live right by the Marin Headlands. We live near a beautiful cemetery called Fernwood. Muir Woods is nearby. The Presidio in San Francisco is just on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. California is now home.

Since moving here, we’ve had a ton of adventures. We road-tripped from Sausalito to Chicago, stopping in Utah and Colorado along the way for some epic hikes. Papa went with Ammachi & Appachen to Washington, DC to visit Aunt Bess, Uncle Jon, Beatrix and August, who was just born. We drove back from Chicago together, tried to make it to Mount Rushmore before being turned away by a blizzard that lasted over a day and a couple states. We’ve had several adventures up and down the California coastline. We’ve driven along and camped the Oregon coastline as well. We’ve hiked so many trails in the Bay Area, our adventures here countless and counting. We just came back from The Lost Coast Trail in Northern CA; and I hiked eleven out of fourteen miles of it. A few months ago, I joined my other brother Tucker who is also in Doggy Heaven in helping papa, Uncle Derek and Uncle DaveRisner on their epic Rickshaw Run throughout 2500 miles in India.

All the while, through all of our adventures and misadventures, it’s my family I think about. And my friends. And my brother.

I lie here now, as he’s laid to rest almost 3,000 miles away. I never had the chance to tell him how much he meant to me.

“When you feel your life ain’t worth living
you’ve got to stand up and
take a look around you then a look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken,
keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.”

— “Change”, by Blind Melon (written by Shannon Hoon)

I still dream about Lawrence, on this day our birthday. It’s a special day. Ten years young.

Brothers fight. They fight all the time. They say things they regret, things they wish they could take back. But that’s not what I think about these days when I think about him, which is a lot. I think of when we were growing up. I think of when we played together. I think of when we would sleep on our chair together. We were so little then. Cos in the end, brothers always come back together. No matter what.

For Lawrence and I, that reunion will be in Doggy Heaven, or maybe in another life.

Happy birthday, Lawrence.

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