Thursday, December 8, 2011

Happy Birthday Mike

When I was a young girl growing up in the 70's I knew a few things for certain. I knew that I was going to marry this guy-

I knew that no matter how hard I tried I was never going to be as good a roller skater as my friend Maren. I knew that the best jeans were Jordache and I knew how to tell the real ones from the fakes.
I also knew that my brother Mike Sabella was the coolest guy around.
I think I started idolizing him from the time I was very small. He was six years older than me and seemed to be all knowing all the time. I trusted him and believed in him like every good little sister does with their older brother.

Because of the age difference we never really argued, there wasn't a sibling rivalry between us. I mean don't get me wrong, he teased me for sure. He started calling me 'chubby' when I was a kid, I don't mean like "Nina, you shouldn't eat that you are getting chubby" I mean like "hey Chubby can you hand me the phone?". It was my name. I didn't like it, it drove me crazy but at the same time it was kind of endearing.
As the years went on and Mike moved out (I have written about that devastating event before, it was awful) he became more and more protective of me. He started to worry that I might make the wrong choices in middle school and high school. He was always sure to give me pep talks and was constantly telling me to 'stay sweet and innocent' those were the words he would write to me all the time on birthday cards and notes.

Here is a card he got me for my birthday one year and inside it says- Nina, Make these high school years pass the way they're supposed to, fun and exciting, But please stay as sweet and innocent as you are. Love, Mike.

He was 21 or 22 years old when he wrote that. I love that at age he was worried about me.

I love this picture. My hair is horrible, my dress is silly and Mike's chest hair is out of control but the picture is awesome. We look alike, and that always makes me smile.
When I was a Junior in High School I had an accident on Mike's scooter. I flew off the scooter while I was riding it and went over the handle bars, I broke the fall with my face. It was ugly. I broke my nose and my eye socket. I was in bad shape. That was the card that Mike had written and put on the flowers he brought me. I am not one that saved things like this, but when it was from him I did.
These pictures were from my high school graduation. The roses were from Mike. I lost that card. I wish I could remember what it said.
Mike was the kind of brother that when he got his license and I was 10 years old he would let me go places with him. Not always, but sometimes I was able to go to the beach with him, go to the store. Those were my favorite times when it was just the two of us. He taught me how to drive when I turned 15. He let me take my driver's test in his BMW. After I had my license sometimes we would trade cars. I drove a 66 Mustang. I would make sure that my car was always clean and full of gas for him, he would hand over his car filthy dirty and on empty. I would get mad and tell him that it wasn't fair. He would say "Nina, just because it says empty doesn't mean it really is empty, you have miles and miles to go" that little piece of advice got me into trouble several times...

One time in late 1988 he had been living in Hollywood and he wanted to show me around. We went to the movies at The Beverly Center and then we went to dinner at Ed Debevic's. I remeber that night like it was yesterday. In December of 1988 on his birthday he and I went and picked out the family Christmas tree together, it was awesome. I didn't have any idea at the time that it would be his last birthday, his last Christmas. I didn't know how heartbroken I would be the following year. I had no idea that I could ever feel that much pain.
Mike has been gone for 23 years. For the first five years after he died I had a dream about him every single night. Every night. Sometimes they were sad, sometimes they were happy. But every night when I went to sleep I knew I would have a dream about him. He truly was the best brother any girl could ever ask for. He loved me so much and he made sure I knew it. It breaks my heart to think that he never got a chance to be a dad, to be a husband, to see the success that I was sure would one day be his. He had many friends and there are so many others that miss him as I do. None as much as my parents did of course. After Mike died both my parents walked around with a little piece of their hearts gone forever. They were never the same. My dad became more sentimental, more emotional. My mom became harder, more abbrasive and more distant. She didn't want to let anyone too close. I can't imagine what it was like for them. I am just so glad that now they are all together. Sometimes I resent the fact that they all left. Sometimes I hate that I feel like my Dad gave up. I want to scream 'WHAT ABOUT ME!' but I know in my heart that everything happens for a reason and there is a plan for me.
This is Mike and his best friend Kevin a few weeks before Mike passed away.

My kids and my niece and nephew never got to meet Mike. It is so important to me that they get to know him through me and through our brother Danny. I want them to know how funny Mike was, how he loved Danny and I both so much. His famiy was very important to him. He was good to his mother and respected his father. He liked the ladies and he had tons of friends. He partied a little too much but he worked very hard. He was talented and loved music more than anything.

I have no idea what he would be like now at 49 years old. I imagine he would mostly be the same. I guess he would probably still be calling me Chubby. I do know that if he was here we would be celebrating his birthday together.

I miss you Mike Sabella. Happy Birthday.


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