A little story and a request

[I’m asking a small simple favor of those reading this. You can find it at the bottom of the story. Thank you!]

Growing up, all my cousins on my mother’s side lived out in the country… Mississippi country. Serious southern country. KAWNtreh.

Cornbread, fried chicken that was just killed a couple of hours ago in a horrific ritual of chase the chicken, grab the chicken by the head, lift, whirl chicken around until head pops off, skillet gravy that will make you question the place of humankind in the cosmos, pet goats, Piggly Wiggly grocery stores, and walking barefoot through that very same store.

My little sister and I would go down there from time to time and visit, usually staying for several days. It’s something that most Americans these days would have a hard time envisioning.

I still get the willies remembering having all the lights off as the sun set. You didn’t dare turn a light on, and considering how many of my country relative’s houses burned down over the years (it’s a stupid number of house fires that you would likely not believe), I can kind of understand.

What you have to realize is that there were no outside lights. No street lights. No city, no stores, no headlights, nothing. Pitch black. While the moon and stars might provide some illumination outside, inside you could not see your hand waved in front of your face.

Weird noise? Deal with it. Creaking floorboards. You have no idea who it was or what they were doing. I got stepped on several times. For me, it was terrifying.

Oh, but first thing in the morning, before dawn had done more than barely lighten the sky, we were treated to I SAW THE LIIIIIGHT! I SAW THE LIIIIIIIIGHT! JEEEEESUS SOMETHINGSOMETHINGSOMETHING, I SAW THE LII-II-II-IIGHT… bellowing throughout the house.

I thought the damn Tribulation was starting… scared the shit out of me!

It was just my aunt Vanessa and a boombox. I love her, she’s family, but at that moment, I really did want Jesus to go ahead and take her.

The only male cousin close to my age (out of about forty cousins), was my cousin Brian. Brian was a very chill guy. Nice, friendly, fun, I loved the guy. He was one of my favorite parts about visiting the country. Seeing as my older brother was a violent sociopath bastard and Brian’s older brother was prone to beating the shit out of us (or just doing really mean shit), we had that in common too.

Brian took after his mother, my aunt-by-marriage. I was one of her favorite nephews as well. I think Brian and his mother both possessed a part of that gentle nature that I think maybe they picked up on in me. He was a country boy, still, just more quiet, introspective, and less rash than the rest of our shit-kicker cousins.

I moved away to Germany when I was around 15. I only made it back to Mississippi for a short time, years later, on my way elsewhere, and never back to the country. I hadn’t seen Brian since then. I did run into him on Facebook and reconnected. He’d been married, had a daughter named Brianna who resembles him so much it’s ridiculous, then divorced, then into some trouble, then out of trouble.

At that point he didn’t have much, but he did have a daughter who loved him and a brand new grandbaby he was just crazy about.

He died very shortly after that.

That devastated me in a way I didn’t expect. It’s like someone reached to the back of a cabinet where stuff I don’t use often ended up migrating, but not forgotten, and just… took something.

Brianna was crushed. He may not have been the most stable father, but he loved the hell out of his daughter and she knew it, never doubted it, and she loved the hell out of him, right back. In pictures with her, his smile was glowing bright. His entire face was lit up. He was really proud of who she was and made sure she always knew that.

I haven’t been back to Mississippi in a long time, so I’ve never met Brianna face to face, but I’ve told her what her father meant to me, growing up, and how I loved him like the brother I wish I’d had. We’ve exchanged Christmas presents through the mail and her husband even sent me a few really thoughtful gifts this past year. She still tags me on Facebook, which is one of the few times I pop over there to see what’s going on.

She’s got a sweet nature, like her father and her grandmother. She’s also got a romantic streak that I recognize and feel very proud to see in another member of my family.

She absolutely adores her husband and had this idea, recently, that I want to try and help with. No one here has to do a thing, but if you want to help me, here’s the simple request:

She wants to collect as many pictures of her “love for Matthew” from different places around the world as possible. She mostly just asked family and some of her facebook friends, but I want to surprise her. I figure since I’m in contact with so many wonderful people across the world, here on Medium, I might be able to make this really special.

Here is an example picture:

Again, please don’t feel obligated, but if you have a moment to write

Brianna’s love for you is so big it has reached
<insert Country/State/Region/etc>

on pretty much anything you feel like and snap a picture, it would mean an awful lot to me. :)

Duplicate areas are FINE! :)

It doesn’t have to be in English and feel free to add whatever embellishemnts you like. :)

Please feel free to post them here, or email them to briannaslove@heathhouston.net

Thank you so much, from my heart, every one of you wonderful people who read my writing.

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