The past two years have been incredibly hard on my brother. I have no words for what he has been through, or for the things he continues to battle easy day. For the past ten years or so, all we’ve had that we can truly count on, as siblings, is each other.
I remember the day he was born. The phone rang and I wasn’t pleased hearing I had a little brother. I was determined a sister would be coming home. And by determined, I mean adamant. There was simply no way anyone was going to convince me that a brother was a good thing.
We share the same birthday in neighboring months and our birth times are similar. We were born in the same hospital, but because the maternity ward had been moved and remodeled, our birth certificates state we were born in different zip codes.
I remember the day he came home from the hospital. He looked up at me from my mother’s arms and I was suddenly the most important person in his world. He knew exactly who to trust.
He would scream and cry whenever I was out of his visual field. I’d come running into the room and as soon as he saw me, he’d stop crying. He’d go from red-faced hysteria to laughter and giggles, because I always made him smile.
Up until a month ago, I hadn’t heard from my brother in four months. Every single day, I was convinced something horrible had happened and that I would soon get a call from a police officer or a coroner’s office. I was mentally prepared for the worst. What I got was an unfortunate shock I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But ultimately, the shock led to my brother being okay, and that is a relief.
A lot of people do not share close relationships with their siblings, for various reasons, and I understand that. But for me, my brother is the one person who will always have my back. He is someone who knows me really well. He’s one of my best friends.
I haven’t seen my brother in nearly two years, but nothing and no one can break the bond between us. He is the one living person who knows how to take the things I say. He knows when I’m truly being sarcastic, or when I’m simply making a statement. Even via text, my humor and delivery are not lost on him. He makes no assumptions with me because he actually knows me.
Together, and individually, we’ve been through a lot. It’s mind-numbing and disturbing to think about, but it’s life. Each of us is on a journey and for a while now, I’ve known that I somehow got dragged into my brother’s journey and life lessons. I wish I knew how to focus solely on myself, but I wasn’t raised to be selfish or to pretend that another person doesn’t matter. There are many people you walk away from, including family members, but I choose not to walk away from my brother because I know his heart. I don’t know one side to base my judgment on; I know the entirety.
I have the “luxury” of focusing solely on my health right now, but I know the odds aren’t in my favor. My brother has managed to survive quadruple bypass surgery, two operations due to staph infections, and several other procedures, all in less than two years. He has another treatment in a few months, and it scares me because I don’t trust it. I have a right to be concerned because as he pointed out “You’re the only one who truly cares.” He’s right, and knowing that angers the hell out of me.
Every family is different and each family’s dynamics are also going to be different. However, I was clearly raised right. I can go from zero to psycho in less than three seconds, but when it comes to most people, they simply aren’t worth it. My brother may not be of value to other “family members”, most of whom should be lined up and shot, but he’s of value to me because he’s MY brother. You don’t mess with what’s MINE, and that includes people. It may seem arrogant, but once you’re a part of my life and heart, I won’t allow you to be hurt by others.
I am proud of how far he has come, and I won’t allow anyone else to take the credit for it. He still has battles and challenges, and I will forever be a dragon slayer for him, if need be.
So today, on his birthday, I say “Welcome to the rest of your life. Don’t fuck it up.”
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