Yesterday my third brother (the second one from the left, top row, in the picture) and his wife celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. I remembered around midday that it was their anniversary, and of course I started thinking, then, about where we all are 27 years later. My grandmothers both died when I was in college. The baby in the picture, Esther, belongs to my second brother, John (the bearded guy) and his wife, Sharon (in pink). Esther is now a mama herself. And both of those brothers are now grandfathers, which means, of course, that my parents are now great-grandparents. My fourth brother, Stephen (the one closest to me in the picture) was married last summer in the most perfect wedding. My Uncle Max is the white-haired man in the photo, the bachelor uncle who took care of my grandmother until she died.
And then there's me. Don't I look rather grumpy in this photo? My brother Stephen does, too. Perhaps we were arguing. In this photo I was 15, nearing the end of my freshman year in high school. I was newly dating Bryan, my first boyfriend, as I would continue to do off-and-on for another two years or more. In just six years down the road, Bryan would die in a car accident, and I would begin growing up, swamped in reality and struggling hard to breathe.
Here, though, I'm probably thinking about how great my hair looked and how cute my brother's groomsman Greg was. I'm probably thinking about getting a tan and counting down the days until I could see Bryan again. If I could have known what was coming up in 6 years, then I would also know that, after that year of pain, my life became full of one blessing after another. I think I would have been smiling perpetually.