It's been eleven years since the fire and I still miss Danny (funny how that never goes away). I miss goofing off with him at our babysitter's house. I miss our collaborative efforts to annoy Mom in the morning. I miss playing with the neighbours' dog Skittles with him. Heck, I even miss our fights (never thought I'd say that).
It's hard to believe that I once had a big brother when now I am nearly twice his age. When I gaze at his photograph and see a smiling, twelve year old kid with spiky hair and a cleft chin, he still looks older to me. I sometimes have dreams that it was all a big mistake and he is still alive after all. Even if I have aged in the dream, he still stays the same. I get excited when I see him and pray that this time I am not dreaming...this time he is going to stay. I might leave the room and then come back, just to check and see if he will still be there. He usually is. Then I wake up. I realize that it was only one of my many "Danny is alive" dreams, sigh, roll over and go back to sleep.
I still miss Danny. I remember the night the firemen pulled him out of the house. I had managed to get out safely and now I sat inside the neighbours' house across the back alley, patting a huge German Shepherd dog as I looked out the window and watched.
"He's gonna die, Sheba." I whispered to the dog as the firemen performed their C.P.R. Who would've thought that a ten-year-old kid like me would ever have to say that about her big brother? Two days later, at six in the morning, I proved myself right. I didn't stay long at the funeral; I went to A&W for a milkshake instead of watching them lower his coffin into the ground. As long as I did not have to see the finality of it all, I could still believe that maybe he WOULD come back.
I still miss Danny. I missed him long after the novelty of having a death in my elementary school had worn off. Kids who had written me sympathy cards as part of a class assignment came back to me the next year and taunted me, saying:
"Where's Danny?" just so they could hear me say that he was dead.
I still miss Danny. I missed him enough to hold a bottle of pills in my hand when I was fourteen, hoping to join him in a few minutes. I even missed him when the name "JESUS" flashed into my brain after the fifth pill, urging me to seek after Him and see what He could do before I tried to kill myself. I thought about Danny a lot while I read my Bible and when I went to church. I thought about him a lot when I went off to Bible College, five years later. I think about him even now, thinking that it's a shame that he cannot attend my wedding in a month and a half; he would look so handsome in a tuxedo.
Yes, I still miss Danny, but I do not have any misgivings about missing him. It was missing him that exposed me to the aching loneliness in my heart-a loneliness that only Christ could fill. Missing my brother in heaven ultimately led me to seek after the One who had the power to reconcile me with my Creator...and guarantee that one day I will be reunited with my big brother. I still miss Danny, but if it were any other way, I might not know what I would be missing.