Monday, January 19, 2009
We went to Legoland today. Not Bryan and me and Reilly, like the above pictures show. Bob, the kids, grandma and me. I wish Bryan would have been with us. If he were alive, I know he would have joined us. He liked that place.
In fact, the whole place reminds me of him. So today's story is about Bryan and Legoland. Bryan chose Carlsbad as his home. He liked it there. It is where he lived most of his adult life. He died there. He liked the weather and the laid-back feel of the town, the food, the people. And in March of 1999, another reason for liking Carlsbad came on the scene. Legoland. A place for kids. But as I have already told you, Bryan was a kid at heart. He started talking about Legoland and planning our first trip there and waiting anxiously for it to officially open long before 1999.
Reilly was not even two and Legoland had not even been open for one month, when we went on April 20, 1999. We played in the Duplo Park and Uncle B got stuck in the slide. We soaked each other in the wet play place. We went on all the slow moving rides and even sneaked Reilly on the knight's horse joust ride--even though she wasn't old enough. Bryan walked through every exhibit in Mini-land and oooh-aaahed over each lego creation. He enjoyed it more than Reilly, who needed a nap. We were there at opening and we closed the place down. We got sunburned. He bought the place out sampling all the food and getting gifts for Reilly. I have said before that my brother was a generous man, I hope now you are understanding how true my words are. He liked seeing a smile on Reilly's face. I think he just enjoyed seeing Legoland through the eyes of a kid, experiencing it all as if he were a little child who hadn't yet seen the yucky stuff that makes adults frown.
I sometimes felt like my brother just wanted to go back and be a kid again. When things weren't so complex. When the expectations of adulthood and the responsibilities of manhood (real or imagined) didn't press in on him. Not that he was an irresponsible guy or one of those men who are stunted at 12. That is not what I mean. Except for the very end when things were turning ugly, Bryan never missed work. He paid his bills. He took care of business. He was an upright man. He was not materialistic, so "stuff" didn't matter to him. All of his worldly possessions take up only a small corner of my parent's garage. People are what Bryan cared about. He spent his resources: time, money, energy, on them. I was the blessed recipient of so much of that generosity. I took it for granted. I thought that was just what brothers did, spent time with their sisters. I am beginning to appreciate now how special my time with Bryan was.
What I mean is that I sometimes think that Bryan couldn't figure out how to play the game of life by the adult rulebook. I wonder if he didn't just want to be a kid again, when people cut you some slack and you don't have to be so serious and others expect you to be silly, or at least they aren't surprised it. Bryan was always a really happy kid. And he was not always as happy as an adult. Being a grown-up is hard, you know?
As Bob drove us through Bryan's town today I wished he were there with us. Not just to buy us apple fries and souvenir key chains, but to BE with me. I miss his exuberance. I miss his playfulness. I miss his loud laugh and his huge smile and his friendly way of striking up a conversation with the little kid in line behind us. I liked being with him because he always made it alright to be a kid again. I know that is selfish. If he is where I believe he is, Legoland has NOTHING going for it. And I would not ask him to return from there just to satisfy the emptiness in my life here without him. I am rambling. Legoland was fun. We had a good time. I miss you Brother.
Posted by Reilly Fitzpatrick at 7:41 PM