Every couple of years Thanksgiving falls on November 27 and makes itself an especially emotional holiday for my family. This is one of those years. You see, November 27 is my uncle's birthday but my uncle died in a tragic car crash in 1988.
I never had the opportunity to get know my uncle (I wasn't born until 1989) but the pictures and stories that my family share inspire a special kind of missing in me. Almost a kind of missing out mixed with sadness and a huge helping of wondering how my life might've been different knowing him. I'm overcome with that feeling today.
This would be his 52nd birthday but he only made it to 25. 25. The same age I am now. I have heard so many wonderful things about him and the richness of his life that realizing he was only my age rocked me. He lived so much for being so young. I don't feel like I've lived half that much in the same amount of time.
A secret source of pride for me has always been that people say I'm like him. My grandmother says it, my mom says it, his best friend who still keeps a piece of his wrecked car in the glove compartment says it. As a little kid (before I knew the details of his crash) my favorite Match Box car and the one I said I wanted when I grew up was the car he died in (let me tell you how creepy that was for my family). Honestly, even now that's still my dream car and I can't convince myself otherwise even though it should be weird. Maybe I just like the idea that I've got something in common with him. Something just for me when everything about him is second hand.
When I turned 25 last month I felt old and like I had nothing to show for it. I had a great birthday and I can't complain about my first month or so of this age but it hasn't been spectacular either. But that's no one's fault but my own. Thinking of my uncle, I can't help but feel like I'm wasting time.
So, today, with my uncle in my heart, I pledge to live this year of my life to the fullest. To have fun, to reach out, to celebrate, to learn, to love, to grow, to be me. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to do that.