It's September 4, 2009. I'll turn 35 in 2 days. The air feels heavy and anxious this time of year. 3 years ago, September of 2006, is when I visited my parents at their new condo in North Carolina. Bob was going to come down, too, since he lived only hours away but work overwhelmed him. As a potter, he was very busy in the fall, getting ready for an annual Thanksgiving fair where he could make some good money selling his pottery. I remember sitting at the glass table in the new condo as my dad called Bob and talked to him. We all sat there smiling and kind of laughing. Bob must have been saying something funny on the other line. I remember my dad asking if I wanted to talk to him but I said I'd call him later. I didn't know that a month later he'd be gone.

Bob used to always call me on my birthday and send a gift, usually a few weeks late. When he passed away October 2, and I was at his home solemnly looking through his things, there was a small cardboard box on a chair that had my address written on it with a black Sharpie. There it was, the birthday present he was eventually going to send me. It was the book Marley and Me. I still have it, in the box, unread.

They say birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays are the worst for the bereaved. It's true. I would always look forward to my brother calling me on my birthday, sometimes leaving funny messages on my voice mail if I didn't answer. But now, I'm somewhat afraid of September 6th. Just knowing I won't get that call from my brother still fills me with anxiety.

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