Just like Logan never knew Peyton, Brian never had a chance to know his older sister, Kimberly. She was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect. Surgery corrected the defect, but post-surgical complications claimed her life, two months before Brian was born.

Brian’s parents seldom talked about Kimberly, unable to dwell on the pain of losing her. Though losing Peyton was, and is, unspeakably painful for Brian and Kelly, they didn’t want to push Peyton’s memory into the background, either — certainly not as far as Logan was concerned. Brian picks up the story in Chapter 20, “Tell the Whole Truth.”

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When I was young, I was matter-of-fact about Kimberly’s death. I knew it was sad, knew it was a loss, but I didn’t grieve the way my parents did. I accepted what happened. In the years since Peyton died, Logan has been much the same way.

Perhaps as adults, we become much more cognizant of the finality of death. We have a context in which to place severe loss, and it cuts deeper. When you’re a small child, the concept of loss doesn’t hit home in quite that way. Certainly, the difference between a parent losing a child and a small boy losing his sister is a pretty large chasm. As a parent, you kill yourself inside wondering what went wrong, whether you were negligent in some way, whether you failed to protect your child. Logan is free of that yoke.

But his freedom from that burden also makes him much more frank and able to face both the memory of Peyton and her loss with complete openness.

Logan has freely brought the subject up to our friends and extended family. We’ll bring him to a cookout or some other type of gathering, and he’ll blurt it right out:

“I had a sister, but she died.”

Every time he does that, my stomach reflexively tightens. I can’t help it. It’s that kind of subject. I know if he brings it up, Kelly or I will be drawn into the conversation. We’ll talk about it, but it’s not pleasant.

But I don’t stop Logan from bringing it up, because he needs to know that it’s essential to express your feelings, that sweeping sensitive subjects under the rug and bottling up what’s on your mind is a destructive path in life. Plus I want him to remember Peyton. I want Peyton to be a living part of his memories. I don’t want Logan to have the same experience I had growing up, in which my deceased sister was an occasional visitor to family conversations but was otherwise banished to the depths of our collective subconscious, with all our other suppressed memories. I want Peyton to remain alive in spirit to all three of us.