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My Big Brother Jet
“Jet Michael Hemp was a fine young man, very talented, very loved. He had lots of good friends, and was a great student. He helped coach the wrestling and baseball teams. He will be missed.”
Pastor Josiah stepped down from his podium and walked around in front of Jet’s coffin and sighed, resting one of his old wrinkled hand on the polish mahogany wood. “Very much missed,” he said to himself, then he turned and left the sanctuary.
My mother stood and led our family in front of his coffin one last time.
“My little baby,” my mom repeated to herself as she stared at the closed casket. Her face was pale, except for around her eyes, where is was red. My father muttered something then led my mother away. I stood in front of Jet, well his coffin, with my baby brother Reid curled up in my arms.
“Jet, I miss you already, have fun, see you in a couple decades, hopefully.” I felt hot tears run down my face. I lifted my face up to the stained glass window. “Bye bye,” I said my painful farewell.
Reid heard me say “bye bye” and said “Bye bye” too. I hugged him and wiped my tears off with my hand. I hurried down the aisle and left the hot sanctuary and out into the cool April air.
“Come here, Reid.” I held out my hands, beckoning him to come to me. He ran over, almost tripping over his toy.
“Ready for daycare?” I asked tickling him and carrying him downstairs. Reid wrapped his little legs around me like a monkey and held on tight. In the kitchen I poured him milk in his favorite blue sippy cup. He started drinking out of it noisily and I sat him down on the couch in the living room. I put his little shoes on his feet and sat down next to him. He looked up at me, still drinking, and then leaned against me.
I stared off into space, fighting a waterfall of tears inside me. This was the first time I would actually be driving him to daycare. Jet always took him. My mother had took her vacation days off and stayed home with Reid. Now she had gone back to work, two weeks after the dreary funeral.
“Let’s go little man,” I pushed myself off the couch and scooped up Reid, who curled up against my chest and tucked his head under my chin. I locked the door behind me and walked down the pretty flagstone steps that brought another wave a sadness. My dad and Jet had worked 2 days straight to put them in.
I put Reid in his car seat and made sure he could reach his half empty sippy cup. I climbed into the drivers seat and turned the car on.
At the daycare center, I signed little Reid in. Miss Ashleigh took Reid from me, and tickled him. Reid wiggled away from her and started whining.
I drove to the high school, and parked my car. The lot was empty of people, and I check the time on my cell phone and noticed I was 20 minutes late. Sighing I dragged myself inside and figured this was going to be a long day.
I hurried out of the school at the end of the day, hoping to not get stuck in a traffic jam. I sped out of the parking lot and beat the crowds, thankfully. Jet was a pro at getting out first. I shook my head, and turned up the radio.
I parked the car in a Sonic drive through and ordered a small thing of fries and a Diet Coke. While I waited for my food, I massaged my head, feeling a headache coming on. I turned my radio off, and imagined Jet in the car next to me. “My head hurts.” I told him.
“Don’t be a baby,” I imagined a fake punch on my arm.
“Don’t hit me!”
“Umm, miss?” the waitress stood with my food on a bright red tray.
“Oh sorry, here,” I handed the ten dollar bill, and took my food. “Keep the change,” I said feeling embarrassed she had caught me talking to myself. In the back of my mind I heard Jet laughing and I wanted to cry.
I pushed open the front door and shut it quietly behind me. Soft footsteps came from the kitchen. Reid ran out with my mom right behind him. He hugged my legs. He pointed at my cup, and I kneeled down so he could have a drink. He hugged me again and pulled me towards the kitchen. He had been coloring. He gave a wrinkled piece of paper with brown and green scribbles on it.
“Thank you, Reid.” I patted his little head and said hi to my mom.
In my room, I hung my newest picture up with the others on my bulletin bored. It had pictures of me, Reid, colored pictures from Reid, my friends, one of my mom and dad, and a few of Jet. I stared at my favorite picture of him. It was a picture of us together, in the living room. I had been taking random pictures of me, and he jumped into a few, and I managed to get one of him smiling. I let a tear roll down my face, but I wiped it away, and pinned Reid’s scribbled-on-paper next to it.
Jet’s room was down in the basement. It was big, dark, and really messy, well it used to be. My mom spent her whole vacation after the funeral taking care of Reid, and cleaning out the basement. She was shocked to find cigarettes and not so friendly magazines in his room, but she cried a lot about it. She told my father she would have known if she had paid more attention.
For dinner that night, my mom made homemade pizza, but she burned the bottom of it. I ate the cheese off the top and left the burned crust behind. Reid had Vienna sausages, which were Jet’s most hated food. Reid had them all smashed up on his high chair tray and my mom just looked at him and sighed. She cleaned him up and asked me to put him in bed.
I dressed Reid in his footie-pajamas and brushed his little teeth with his special baby toothbrush. I tucked him into his big-boy bed, and turned his shadow night light on, which made cool stars and plants on his ceiling, and it spinned. Jet always said he wanted one, and mom would just smile and shake her head.
I shut his door, and heard the living room TV on downstairs. My dad was watching the news, and I almost expected to hear the usual bickering between him and Jet about changing the channel. Usually, I would have gone downstairs, but a wave of tiredness swept over me. I went to my room instead. I slowly undressed and put my pajamas on. My usually very clean room had clothes everywhere, and a row of empty glasses of water were lined up on my desk, which had tons of needless clutter on it. I picked up my clothes and put them in my hamper by the door and I stacked all the glasses up and took them downstairs. In the kitchen, I found my mom standing at the sink staring out the window above it into the backyard. I sat the dishes down by the sink and was about to leave when my mom started talking.
“I always had to tell him not to push you to high on the swings. He never listened. I can’t count the times you fell off and got hurt, but he always got away with it,” she chuckled to herself then left the room, leaving me to stand in there alone in the dark.
I put Reid’s little blue overalls, some of his stained t-shirts, some bibs, and a couple pairs of my mom’s pants into the washing machine. I got out of school early on Friday’s and I decided that the laundry was getting behind. I had picked up Reid, but he was taking a nap on the living room couch. I had disturbed the daycare’s nap time, and got a couple mean looks from Miss Ashleigh.
My cell phone started ringing. The annoying ringing sound came from the living room, and I kicked myself on the inside for leaving it in there. Reid’s crying started up with it and I hurried downstairs to quiet the two of them.
An hour later, I was sitting on the couch, Reid curled up on me, his head tucked under my chin, while I talked to Chelsea, my best friend. She had been at Jet’s funeral, 4 rows back from us on the opposite side of the church. I talked about Jet mostly, because that’s the only thing my brain wanted to think about. Oddly enough, after an hour of talking about Jet, I felt a little piece of pain disappear.
“Chelsea, your welcome to come over if you want, Reid’s taking a nap right now, but it doesn’t matter.” I rubbed Reid’s little back gently, feeling good inside.
“I wish I could, really, but I have to go to work in 30 minutes. I’ll come over sometime this weekend though.” she sounded sad by the idea she couldn’t come over. That’s what I liked about her, she was sincere.
After we hung up, I watched TV till Reid woke, complaining he was hungry. I filled his green dinosaur sippy cup up with chocolate milk, a rarity in our house.