I often write about Howard, my baby brother, who died eight years ago in a fraternity house fire at the University of Mississippi, especially on days that cause my heart to yearn all the more for his good judgment and ability to see the rainbows through the clouds, like on the anniversary of his death, and on his birthday.

Yesterday, I was happily too busy honoring his memory by hiking in Glacier National Park to write about him, though I penned many thoughts in my head as I traversed the Highline Trail with Maggie Rose on my back and family and good friends in tow.  I’ll get to the hike in a separate post, but it was a magical day to think about what would have been Howard’s 28th year — fall has cast the high country in that most golden, perfect light, and it eased the sting of his absence.

At day’s end, we returned to Hillhouse and gathered together with the rest of our crew at the memorial site that Jordan, one of Howard’s best friends, designed, built, and spent the last week installing:

Many days of prep work ensued, as the two pieces of the form — delivered via 18 wheeler to the Warehome — waited patiently.

Everyone helped, including Neil and Keith in their off hours.  Thanks, guys.

Loading one of the two pieces of the form onto one of the two beekeeping flatbed pickups.

Maggie supervising.

Loaded and headed down West Shore Road – the order of our entourage: the two flatbeds; me running with my camera and pushing the stroller wearing Danskos and blue jeans; Jody in the supersized forklift; Jordan in her rig.  Finally, I ran out of breath and stopped to take this picture:

The gawkers were many.

Arriving in the Big Field for installation!

I ashamed to say that I have not yet taken an awesome picture of the finished piece – they’re all too far away, or too blurry, or filled with people and equipment …. coming soon, I promise!  Just a reason to keep y’all coming back every couple of days or so, right?

But at any rate, to finish out Howard’s birthday, last night we all gathered together at the memorial site, drank a glass or two of champagne, and offered various toasts, all heartfelt and yet so vastly inadequate.

We wondered aloud if he would have gone to law school, and then begun working for the FBI, as he dreamed of doing, helping to keep this country safe from harm.

I wondered privately if he would have married a kind, clear eyed woman by now.

I wondered what he would name his children.

Happy 28th birthday, Baby Bro.

Brother Dear background / Howard and Joe-Dog, foreground

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