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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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song for jim

I used to think about my brother every day, especially in the years soon after the accident. Everything reminded me of him, every moment of happiness was dulled, not quite as bright as it could have been. The ache is still there (will always be there), but I believe I've come to a certain level of acceptance. I'm able to find happy memories rather than obsessing about why it happened.

Nowadays, I don't think about him specifically every day. I don't need to; he is so much a part of who I am, and everything around me.

Some good memories:

I remember my brother used to be able to hum every musical motif from Classic Star Trek episodes.

I remember how he loved music and playing the piano, how his favourite composer was Beethoven.

I remember how messy his handwriting was.

I remember how Ruth and I helped with his promotional campaign when he was running for School President in grade school, and how ecstatic we all were when he won.

I remember how he got so embarrassed when I hugged him.

I remember how he and Ruth knew all the words to Battlestar Galactica (the movie).

I remember how much he liked rocket kits when he was little, how he and my father would go out into the field and set them off. Sometimes they worked; sometimes they didn't...they still had fun.

I remember how he used to play the piano part for "Suite For Flute and Jazz Piano" (Bolling) while I played the flute part, or tried to.

I remember he used to have a battered-looking pink and white teddy bear he named "ching-ching".

I remember how much he liked computers, and would spend hours programming in machine code for our TRS-80.

I remember how short he used to be in comparison to the other boys his age, and how small he looked out on the ice playing hockey or lacrosse.

I remember how he and I used to play practical jokes on my sister and her friends during their sleepovers.

I remember how he cried on my wedding day, gave me a hug and said that he loved me.

Had he lived, my brother would have been 35 years old today.

Today's Blatherpic:
Jim, on the morning of his wedding day. He was embarrassed that I was taking his picture, and was laughing at me. I remember he was also nervous, but very excited...he was very much in love with Diane.

The photo was taken about a year before the accident. He and Diane were together on the way to a camping trip with some friends; the car swerved (cause still unknown) into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler. Both were killed instantly; no one else was hurt. I still have the tie that he wore in the photo, stored away carefully in my Memory Box.

Song For Jim

Words and music by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Copyright ©1993 Urban Tapestry Publishing
(Buy this song on or
on CDBaby)

I see you sometimes in my dreams
The sun is shining in your hair
You seem so clear to me
How could you not be there?

You used to tell me not to worry
That things would work out in the end
I used to think we had forever
I used to think my heart could always mend.

Did you ever know how much I loved you?
Did I ever show how much I cared?
I can't help wondering, oh why?
I wish we had a chance to say good-bye.

And I remember years ago
When we three fought and loved so true
You were so small back then
We would do anything for you.

But now you are forever young
Your spirit lives on far and free
As long as stars shine in the heavens
You'll always be a part of me.




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