As teenagers, my brother and I spent a lot of time playing in the woods. We went hiking, fishing, and swimming in the creek.
We also built a makeshift fort and took some of my mom’s old lawn furniture down there. Mom never did figure out what happened to her chairs.
We spray-painted graffiti under the bridge. We wrote our names, the names of our dogs, and noted each year we were there.
Basically, the two of us ran wild through those woods and we were having a blast.
That was 26 years ago. Aaron passed away three years ago and his birthday is on Monday. I decided to take his daughter (Gwen) out there. She heard various stories over the years, but never got a chance to see the area. It seemed like a good way to honor Aaron’s memory.
I was surprised to see a lot of our graffiti is still there. Each step I took, felt like I was going back in time. Even though the terrain has changed some over the years, I could still recognize different sections and areas. I still remembered my way around those woods.
Memories of those days flooded my mind. It was a surreal feeling. I could almost see us and our dogs running wild. I was excited to see it all again. However, I felt the grief of my brother’s death.
I was hiking down memory lane and my heart was overflowing with mixed emotions.
We spent the day honoring my brother. We told stories and laughed, but we also cried.
Mom and I went to the Huntsville Botanical Garden to see the tree that I sponsored in memory of Aaron. I presented the sponsorship information to Mom last Christmas, because I wanted her to know Aaron will never be forgotten and his life made a difference in this world.
Then Mom, Gwen, and I went to the cemetery to put fresh flowers on the grave. It was hard standing there looking at his headstone. We all miss Aaron so much and there will always be an empty place in our lives.
Twenty years ago, there was a quadruple homicide in this house. The victims were teenagers and they were killed for accusing a young man of stealing a cell phone.
The guilty individual, as well as his two accomplices, were convicted and the house was eventually abandoned.
I drive by this house all the time and this week I was compelled to look inside of it. It’s hard to describe how I felt entering the house.
There was a mixture of sadness and grief, due to the senseless murders that happened here. I can’t even imagine how those poor teenagers felt as they realized their lives were coming to an end. Also, I felt angry. How can someone be so evil and callused?
I didn’t know the teenagers, but I feel for them and their families. I wonder what they would have accomplished if their lives were not taken from them.
I left the house with a heavy heart and a lot of questions.
Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have died while serving their country.
I also want to make sure we remember their loved ones, because their world will never be the same. Their battle continues and I hope they are able to find the support and strength to live with their new reality.
Happy Memorial Day
The death of my brother (Aaron Thaler) was devastating.
I was a few weeks shy of 3 years old when Aaron was born, so he was a part of my life for as long as I can remember.
My father was in the Army and we grew up overseas. I didn’t really get to know my extended family until I was a teenager and I never had the same friend for more than a couple of years.
That made my relationship with Aaron even more special. He was that one person I was able to play with and fight with, all throughout my childhood years. He was my only consistent friend.
We had our ups and downs together. Many battles were fought and a lot of blood was spilt. However, no grudges were held. After a few days, we would laugh about the last fight as if it was all a game.
Aaron died suddenly and I spent the first month in a state of shock. Eventually the reality hit me and I went into a deep state of depression. There were other factors happening at the time that caused my depression to spiral out of control.
I was blessed to have a few friends willing to reach out and help and a therapist that taught me how to overcome my depression.
It’s been almost two years since Aaron passed and my life is starting to get back on track; however, it will never be the same. I will always miss my brother.