Originally published on April 18, 2017 on my old blog site.
This past week, I celebrated the big 21. Everything went well. Everyone asked me what I did for my birthday, and my answer was as follows:
Woke up, interviewed Aramark of WCU for a story, ate some lunch, worked on my car, and went out for some beers with a few friends at a local brewery.
Many of my friends said things like ‘that doesn’t sound very fun’ or ‘it was fun if you don’t remember anything’ which I don’t really understand. I think I value my birthday more by being able to remember it and the people who were there… but that’s just me.
When the clock hit midnight, and I was all of a sudden 21, I celebrated. I celebrated with my closest friends, and I’m professional enough to say I prearranged a ride because I knew I would need one. But even consuming so much alcohol that I would need a ride makes me uncomfortable to even do on occasion.
On February 14, 2015 around 4 a.m., my older brother Gary was killed in a car accident when the driver of his vehicle struck a tree less than a mile from his house. February 13, 2015 was his big 21.
I wake up everyday having to think about this. Now that I’m of age, the thought is second nature to me in any conversation involving alcohol. To think that I have now lived longer than my older brother is a nightmare.
According to toxicology reports, the driver of the vehicle was even more intoxicated than Gary was. I think everyday why I wasn’t the one driving the vehicle. Why didn’t he call me? The driver was Gary’s best friend since they were kids. Maybe Gary trusted him that much? I don’t know. The answer won’t bring him back, and that’s a sad, hard truth.
So my big 21 was spent on enjoying the simple things. I didn’t want to think about the Valentine’s day two years prior, or that my mom wasn’t here to celebrate either. I think that’s fair.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been looking forward to this birthday for a long time. I just think about the subject of alcohol from a different angle now, and it’ll be that way forever.