I sat in the front row. Black jacket. Black skirt. An older man I’d never met before began to tell stories of his deceased best friend and I found myself  laughing, crying … wishing I had known the deceased better.

The deceased was my older brother.

My older brother and I weren’t close in the traditional sense. We didn’t call each other every week or go on vacations together once a year or even get together every Christmas.

But he would call or text me sometimes whenever something funny happened, and sometimes whenever he would come through town ( he was a truck driver ) he would call me from the truck stop and we’d get together for a quick bite to eat.

I always knew that he’d be there for me if I should ever need him and I’m pretty sure he knew he could count on me too.

He was the funniest person I ever knew. We often even made jokes about our sibling-hood.

One of the last times we got together before he died, he had just happened to be driving through town during his birthday weekend and he called from the truck stop, wanting to get together for some BBQ. So I went and picked him up and drove him to my favorite BBQ joint. And while we sat there, chowing down on ribs and baked beans, I joked with him about not being at home to sign for that birthday present that I did NOT send him. He said he wouldn’t worry about it too much because the mailman would probably just leave it on the porch – just like the UPS guy did with the birthday present that he sent me. ( He didn’t send me anything. )

He died five years ago this month. I miss him. And I also miss the future that I took for granted.

The future where we would have continued not sending birthday wishes and joking about how we didn’t – but also knowing that birthday wishes were not the cornerstone of our easy-going, goofy relationship.

And in my book … easy-going and goofy beats boxes and bows … every single time.