Not The Horse — September 20, 2021

Not The Horse

On an early September morning in 2010, as the sun was just beginning to rise, I woke to the voice and laughter of my 4 year old son Gavin. He was still in his room having a full conversation with someone whose voice I could not hear. We had a very protective dog who was sleeping at the foot of my bed so I wasn’t concerned with a stranger being in the house, but I was very curious who it was that was making him talk in full sentences and laugh full belly laughs when the rest of us were still asleep. I quietly walked down the hall to his room and cracked open his door hoping to get a glimpse of what was going on inside. Gavin was sitting straight and talking towards the empty foot of his bed with a huge smile on his face. As soon as he saw me he let out an annoyed sigh and pat his bed telling me to sit. When I asked who he was talking to I was expecting him to tell me it was an imaginary friend or a strange dream. I was not expecting my young child to tell me he was talking to his Uncle who passed away in 2001, before he was born.

From the moment I found out I was pregnant with Gavin, who is the oldest of my three children, I spoke to him about my brother, his Uncle, who was an Angel watching over us and him. He didn’t know details of his death. He was 4 at the time and was too young to understand, but he did know that Uncle Jonathan was/is a hero and that he was lucky to have a special Angel watching over him. Other then kid appropriate stories, there was no way that Gavin could have known the things he told me that morning while we sat on his bed.

“Mom, Uncle Jonathan was just here with me. He was sitting on my bed talking to me and making me laugh. Mom, he has a really big cut on his head but it didn’t hurt anymore.”

I tried not to allow the tears to fall from eyes as Gavin told me not to be sad. That Jonathan was OK and didn’t hurt anymore. I let him speak freely about his encounter with his Uncle. I didn’t want my emotions or words to change how he was feeling about his experience with someone who he never met in human form but was clearly a very big part of everything he did.

He told me that Jonathan, a New York City Firefighter who was killed on September 11, 2001, was wearing his dress uniform but didn’t have on his white gloves. They were in his pocket. He told me that he had a big cut on his head that he got when the building fell on top of him. It was very important to Gavin that he tell Jonathan didn’t hurt when he died. That Jonathan wasn’t scared and didn’t feel any pain. He was at peace.

Gavin spoke about meeting Jonathan in heaven, before he was born, and the two of them waiting for the right time to send him to me. They watched over me together waiting for the right time to make me a Mom and Jonathan reassured him that he would be safe on this earth with me.

As my amazement in this conversation grew, my little boy told me how his Uncle stops by the house to check on me a lot. I am the youngest of four children and when alive, Jonathan was always my protector, death was not going to stop that. My 4 year old son told me that Jonathan needed me to know that he can’t stop the bad from happening but he will always protect us and help us get through those times in any way he can.

When Gavin finished talking, I told him I heard him laughing at something that must have been very funny and asked what it was. What he said next was the validation I needed to know that what Gavin had experienced was true. He chuckled and asked me why Jonathan calls me a horse. I was a moody child and complained to Jonathan, a lot, about what ever was annoying me that day. Whether it was not feeling well or being looked at the wrong way by the cat, I would find reason to complain to him. In the middle of the complaining, Jonathan would tell me that if I was a horse they would have killed me and made me into glue. With that, Gavin laughed and said that Jonathan wanted me to know that he was sorry he ended up being the Horse.

Gavin is now 15 years old and growing up he has always reminded me of Jonathan. The things he says, the way he acts and his overall demeanor is spot on with how Jonathan was as a teen. He still remembers talking to his Uncle that morning in his room and has had other encounters and conversations with both him and his grandfather who passed away a few days shy of his first birthday. They aren’t as frequent as they once were but he knows no matter what happens in his life, he will always have his Uncle Jonathan close by.

Every Spiders Friend — September 5, 2021

Every Spiders Friend

If you knew my brother Jonathan, you knew that he was a lover of all animals and creatures. If he found an injured animal he would try, usually unsuccessfully, to sneak it passed our parents so he could heal what ever ailment or injury they had and then let them free again. Caterpillars were picked off tomatoes and vegetables growing in the back yard garden, found homes in jars on the windowsill. When they hatched into butterflies, they were once again set free to fly around the garden in hopes they would lay eggs and we would have more the following summer. Injured birds where put into boxes and spoon fed in the hopes the wing or leg would magically heal on its own. Mice left at the door barely breathing, as a gift from our cats, were put into shoe boxes which usually disappeared by the next morning.

Over the years we had countless animals and pets come in and out of the house. Cats, dogs, fish, birds, mice, hamsters, snakes, iguanas and others that I can’t even remember. Over time our parents got used to the fact that they may, at any time, find a new “pet” living somewhere in the house. They drew the line when it came to having spiders. Spiders were a hard no, but that didn’t stop Jonathan from wanting to take care of them or trying to keep one as his newest “friend”.

For countless summers, my family spent a few weeks in a beautiful cabin, at a place called Silver Lake. Silver Lake is located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, close to Lake Placid. Being in the mountains and surrounded by trees and water, it was an animal lovers paradise which meant it was perfect for Jonathan and his spider quest. One summer, our friend Dennis came with us on our trip to the Lake. He and Jonathan were very close and spent the entire vacation together hiking, fishing and exploring the beautiful nature around them. They had an amazing time together, until it was time to leave.

As we were cleaning up the cabin and packing up the suburban, Jonathan found his perfect spider. To everyone else it was just a regular Daddy Longlegs spider, but to Jonathan, it was his new friend. As he grabbed bags to bring out to the car, the spider would crawl up his arm. It hung out on his shoulder while he grabbed fishing rods and tackle boxes off the dock. I am pretty sure I even remember him naming it and talking to it like it understood what he was saying. He insisted that he was bringing it home, which was an eight hour car ride, and keeping it as his newest pet. For one or two hours, that spider was his perfect pet.

When all the bags were packed and ready to be put in the car, Jonathan gently placed his spider on the back bumper so it wouldn’t get hurt or lost. Dennis, who was not a big fan of spiders, came over to help pack all the bags for the long ride home. When he saw Jonathan’s beloved Daddy Longlegs, he did what most people seeing a spider would do. He killed it.

Jonathan was devestated. How could his best friend kill his spider. He loved that spider. That spider meant everything to him. He was never going to find another spider as perfect as that one. How dare Dennis be so mean. He promised he was never talking too Dennis, ever again. He held firm to not speaking to him for the entire eight hours home. Once home, it was a pretty quick recovery. Jonathan found a new spider friend and the two of them were once again the best of friends.

To this day, we don’t know if Dennis killed the beloved spider knowing that Jonathan was hoping to bring it home, or if it was just a knee jerk reaction that most would have when seeing a spider crawling so close. Either way, it is one of those stories and memories that make us laugh every time it is told and every time one of my kids tries to keep an animal that should stay outside.