My mother jokes that I never got over the birth of my brother. She says that for three and a half years I was an only child, and having to share anything, from that point forward, made me miserable.
And it’s true, that on a lot of levels, my baby brother has annoyed the crap out of me for thirty years. When we were nine and twelve we used to have spitting fights gathering amunition from the facuet as if we intended to storm the beaches of Normandy, and not you know, soak our sibling. For three hours we would battle on, until my dad came home from working overtime on Saturday mornings. Thing is though, before he walked in the door, we would mop up every bit of water so neither of us would get in trouble. We were tight like that.
There were long trips in cars where we would beat each other silently, and not so silently, till once, one of our parents threatened to leave us on the Merritt Parkway (I love you mom). There was also the time I almost ratted him out, and he decied it was a good idea to show me finally who was stronger. I imagine that our parents fretted that we would never love each other.
Something happened though, when I left for college, and he entered high school. No longer was he always a pest in my eyes – and perhaps no longer was I so spoiled in his. Which isn’t to say that for the last fifteen years he hasn’t lashed out the insult princess, while I’ve hurled back stubborn pig – but those incidencts are fewer and further in between.
Even though my three and a half year old self might have wanted to send the baby away, my grown up self can’t imagine life without him. My brother has the heart of a lion. He cares deeply, he fights fiercely, and he loves to win, badly. He works all day at the high school we graduated from, is the head coach of one sport or another, every season of the year, and then you know just for fun, and or money, he tends bar after all that high school work is done. He works so hard.
And he loves his nephews. These days I flip through albums and can’t believe how much of my sons can be found in him. I worry that he’ll have my kids in pads and helmets before they’re five – but wouldn’t be too upset if he taught them how to pole-vault.
At my wedding he was my man of honor – and when he gave a toast, he talked about how we had become more than siblings, but friends, best friends. And it’s true, we two we’ve seen each other in our darkest, saddest, and scariest moments – some that no one else has been there for but us. But lately we’ve shared a lot of joy and a lot of love, and baby brother I can’t wait to see what the next thirty years brings us both.