Jonathan Charles Paul
For alot of years I put off dealing with your death. Maybe it was because I never "met" you or because when you were born and then died two days later I blamed myself for your death somehow. I kept telling myself, if I hadn't been in the hospital and if she hadn't have caught that flu, you would
have been whole. I asked myself why I had survived when you had not and to a child it didn't make any sense. I have to confess, I used to hate going to the cemetary across the street from our church. Every time we did we would leave the flowers, and mom would cry for a couple of days again after that and then the guilt would keep coming back.
I was told that of all of the siblings in the family, you and I most looked alike. Funny, after you, our sister Katie was born and I was secretly relieved that she had a baby to focus on and not cry over you. That's a horrible thing to think, and I'm mad at myself for thinking it because mom did still cry around your birthday, and each time the blame and the questions about the "why" festered within me like gaping open wounds. I would cover them up and immerse myself in something else and try to shut it away from my mind. But to be honest, I guess in alot of ways after you were born and then we lost you so soon - from that moment, subconsciously, I was always looking for a brother to replace the one I had lost. A brother to confide in, to slip away and ride the horses bareback through the woods on a Saturday morning with - and then I would feel disappointed when it didn't happen. That none of them could be you was hardly anyone's fault.
Last month, at Bill's wedding, Mom told me that the chemicals that were sprayed behind our house in Sullivan, Mo. were probably ultimately the cause of why you were born with half a heart. When she told me that I cried, I still cry. I know you fought like hell to live, as I fought like hell to live in that hospital. I find it ironic that for most of my adult life I've fought adamantly for environmental issues, and curbing pesticide use. Little did I know there was a bigger reason for all of it. Also at the wedding, mom mentioned that she was going to have your body moved here less than a mile from the farm at the old brick church. It's a lovely place that overlooks the Cedar River Valley, and under large White Pines that are at least a century old. I've offered to help her in ways of researching what we need to do.
I cannot tell you enough that I love you and miss you. I'm sorry that I took so long to talk with you. I know that when you are moved up here at last I will be visiting you more often - maybe to make up for lost time but certainly with far less guilt and apprehension as I had before.
Love, your sister,
July 25, 1998