Warning: This is not a home-related post. It’s for my brother, SSGT Alex Viola.
So, it’s been a year.
A whole year that you’ve been gone. Wow. And ya know, there are still times that Lucas’ll say something funny and I’ll think to myself “Alex’ll love this!!”, then I halt and rephrase in my head “Wait. Alex would’ve loved this…”. Dang. I really hate it when I do that. It’s like a shock to the system every time.
One thing that I can say is that you’re definitely missed. By me, family, friends, everyone. I hear, see, and read about it all the time. You made an impact on so many people and I’m sad that I didn’t really get to see that until after you were gone.
I’ve been making it a point to talk about you to Lucas at least once every day to keep his memories fresh. Even if it’s just to remind him that you gave him his bomber jacket. It fits him a bit snuggly this year, but I’ll make him wear it until it no longer zips if I have my way. He hasn’t complained so far, so I think we’re good for now. It’s funny that even though he’s so young, he seems to really get it. He says that you’re in “Kevin”. Which I happen to think is hilarious and refuse to correct him on. I figure, he’ll realize its “Heaven” soon enough, so until then, he can at least up the entertainment value around these parts. Plus, I know how much you’d love it. Heehee! 😉 I know that he thinks about you regularly…. The other night when mom and dad were babysitting, Lucas rearranged the peas on his plate and said “It’s a flag for Uncle Alex!”. And last night, that missed call on your heaven-version-iPhone was Lucas. He “called” and left you a voicemail. He may have sounded a little drunk, but that’s only because he ate a lot of pizza.
In the year since you’ve been gone, there are some things that have happened that I think you should know about:
1. Your Santa tradition was and will be carried on. Last year, Anthony took over in your honor and he did a great job. And somebody will do it this year and the next, and so on and so forth. I’ll make sure of it. The Santa suit you procured will be put to good use as intended.
2. Lucas has become obsessed with the ninja turtles, just like you did. When he started getting into it, I had flashbacks of you as a child. He even likes Michelangelo best like you. AND much like your kiddo self, he also has ninja turtle underpants. I had to have a “serious” discussion with him, though. When he first got them he was so excited that he would drop trou at any point in time for anybody so that he could show them his new ninja turtle skivvies. We had to instill the golden-rule of “underpants are secret” and now he’s over it. He dresses like a turtle all the time, now. Shell, bandana, nunchucks. Everyday. He even sleepwalks with them. He gets up, dons his gear, walks around, takes it off, and goes back to bed. It’s SO funny. You would love it.
3. Lucas has reached the age of ridicule. Seriously. There’s this vile commercial for Lalaloopsy Diaper Surprise that I absolutely despise. I’m guessing that they ban this ad in Heaven, so allow me to paraphrase… It’s this doll that, well… craps out a charm for a charm bracelet into her diaper after she’s fed water. The commercials show these little girls getting all excited about the contents of the doll’s diaper, and next ya know, they’re wearing the charms on their wrists. It’s SO gross. Ugh. What is this? Training for little girls to look forward to dirty diapers??!!! And the icing on the cake is the annoying jingle that plays throughout the course of the commercial. Anyways, Lucas has picked up on the fact that I hate this commercial more than I hate celebrity baby names. Thus, every so often he’ll approach me under the guise of “I wanna hug” and then proceed to softly sing the commercial into my ear. HE KNOWS!!!! He totally knows!!! And I could totally see the two of you ganging up on me and having a grand ole’ time together. You were waiting for him to reach this age, and I hate that you aren’t here to see it.
4. SO many funds have been raised for the Wounded Warriors Fund and Green Beret Foundation in your name. Honestly, my brain hasn’t been all there this past year, so unfortunately, a lot of these efforts have kind of run together in my head. But, there have been so many amazing, and generous people who have done such kind things to raise money. Many have donated. It seems like any time your name is involved, people line up to help. It’s pretty awesome. Our cousin Ryan created this incredible decal, the proceeds of which are being donated to The Green Beret Foundation….
Aside from that, not only did CrossFit gyms across the nation hold workouts in your honor last year when we lost you, many of them did it again this year. Your old roommate Brett was the catalyst for keeping it going, and again, proceeds were donated in your name. It’s crazy-awesome. Just like you.
In any case, you’re in our thoughts all the time and I hope you’re in a nice, safe place keeping Nanny and Billie company. Keep an eye out for Larry, as well… He’s a cool guy. You’d like him. Oh yeah, and if it was you that sent that wonderful lady scuba diving to find your memorial bracelet on the bottom of the Hawaiian ocean, thanks. Mom really needed that. So, anyways, I really miss you! We all do!
Until we meet again,
P.S. If you’d like to know the back-story about Alex, read this post.