Jonny Balogna

The entire family was in Brazil for a month-long vacation. It was a rare occasion for the six of us to travel anywhere together, what with big families making the simplest of trips a lot more complicated and expensive than they should be. Taking that into account, we were excited to spend our family vacation on the sands of Maceió, taking in a little sun.

My brother Jonny, on the other hand, craved the excitement of the ocean. Depending on the stretch of the beach you found yourself in, huge waves came to greet you close to the shore. Jonny wanted to waste no time getting thrown around in the water just to ultimately emerge feeling victorious, like a little tamer of the sea. That’s the kind of person my brother Jonny is: one who stared at danger in the face not to feel weak but rather to confirm his strength. It wasn’t so much that he was fearless but rather that he never let his fear stop him from experiencing the rush of living through something dangerous. Behind the shy half-smile on his face and his often quiet words was a boy who craved adventure because in them he saw the side of him that most people never got to see unless they knew him as well as I did- the side that was wild, the boy who felt comfortable amid the chaos of the ocean. He found himself there, amid the breaking waves that turned into foam as they reached the toes of beach goers who perhaps were too scared to face their crash.

Yet no matter how well I feel that I know Jonny, in my mind today I still see him as a little boy of five years old, lounging around the house cuddling with anyone he could find. But he is much more than that. He is a strong soul with a wise mind and a big heart and loving spirit. And although I have not been able to physically be there with him as every year passes by, I hope he knows he’s always with me in my heart and memories, like a little piece of the puzzle that brings my life together.

So from thousands of miles and ocens and stars away, I’m wishing a very happy birthday to my littlest brother Jonny, who fills my life with joy, excitement, hugs and more laughter than you could ever imagine; who is not afraid of big waves or of climbing tall trees nor jumping out of second story buildings.

And who will always inspire me to live a life full of adventure and encourage  me not to cower in the face of the breaking waves in my life.

Balogna & I on our family vacation in Brazil circa 2006

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