By Patricia LaPointe
Writing outside, a memory floats away and lands on a wind chime. It attaches so strongly that it clings to the words on it, creating an imprint: Nick Romito, 1951-2016
Although he was less than three years younger than me, I always referred to Nick as “little brother.” It is the many memories I have of our life together that come to mind.
The toddler who couldn’t quite pronounce my name. He called me Paprisha.
The little boy who would ride his hobby horse as he looked out the window, waiting for me to come home from school. And the day when his horse was too close to the open closet door, and his vigorous rocking caused him to sail into the hanging clothes.
The little boy who could play outside for hours and return home without a speck of dirt on him.
The little boy who sat patiently when we played school and I taught him the alphabet.
The pre-teen I comforted when Dad missed his Little League games.
The teenager creating many garage bands he was sure would succeed.
The teenager who would walk to my work and take my car without telling me.
The young man who railed against our mother when she threatened not to attend my wedding.
The young man who nearly died of meningitis while in the Marines.
Sitting in a waiting room for hours when the 40-something man underwent triple bypass surgery.
Supporting him through two divorces from women he tried to “save.” Reminding him that he wasn’t “Mighty Mouse” coming to save the day. Finally, he found a woman, Mary, who saved him.
Picking up the phone and hearing him ask “Have you heard this one?” Followed most often by a “dirty joke.”
His arms around me as we said our last goodbyes to Mom and Dad.
Holding his hand, telling him how much I loved him, as I watched the lines of his heart monitor go flat.
Closing his big, brown eyes when his soul had left his body.
And how I wished he had been there to see me reach under his body in the casket to retrieve pictures, placed there by a woman who nearly ruined his marriage. I couldn’t let her be with him, dead or alive. How he would laugh at the image of me, on my toes, saying “sorry Nick” and almost knocking the casket off its stand.
This story could not have been about just a memory or just a loss. This story of my “Little Brother” is not one without the other.
© 2021 Patricia LaPointe
Pat LaPointe, editor of Changes in Life, a monthly online women’s newsletter, is contributing editor of the anthology, The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys from Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment. In addition, she conducts writing workshops for women — both online and onsite. Pat’s essays and short stories have been published widely. Currently, Pat is completing her first novel, forthcoming late 2021.