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Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Brother, Myself



I was thinking this morning that it had been so long since I'd spoken to my brother. Actually we spoke two days ago.

It was then that it occurred to me that our relationship is unusual.

Truth be told this isn't the first time I thought this. For a brother and sister to speak to each other almost every day is not the norm. But neither was our childhood. The closeness we share is one usually reserved for sisters, not siblings of the opposite sex, but often we were all each other had to emotionally cling to.

We were children of divorce, often left to our own devices. He was my lifeboat in a sea of insecurity and loneliness.

When it was time for me to go look at colleges, he took me. Four and a half years my senior, he knew the ropes, and the way to get to Vermont and New Hampshire evidently.

When I went to college he took me, cursing my broken down Saab with broken wipers as we drove through downpours around New York City on our way to the college our educator dad had wanted me to go to in Southern Maryland. When he left me there I felt like I couldn't make it. I stood there watching him drive off wondering what I would do without him.

At the end of that year he came to retrieve me and once again cursed as we took a train to Boston now that my car had officially died and gone to Swedish car heaven. This was after he'd come to help me get it fixed, and while I hurried down 95 in our dad's car he was broken down miles behind me. When packing to return to Cape Cod I'd insisted on bringing all my plants. He had every right to curse me.

At 18 I needed some surgery and once again he was the one to take me. Being a 22-year-old guy he didn't know what to do so he dropped me at the door and told me to call him when I was ready to go home and he'd come get me. And he did.

When our parents died within a year of each other a few years ago, we were faced with the fact that we're it. We are now the family elders. A family that is made up of my three children and us for all intents and purposes. We clung to each other as our mother was dying, once again holding each other up as we faced the inevitability of losing ones' parents.

He is my biggest cheerleader and frankly the most consistent relationship I've ever had with a male - save my two sons. We're very different in some ways - I dealt with the constant moves and lack of terra firma I felt as a child by putting down roots, probably too intractable at times. He has chosen a life that has been much less so - traveling the world and living in places like Tehran and Paris at times.

But in so many ways we are so much alike, We can call each other and know exactly what the other one is going through, like twins born years apart.

My brother sat with me in a car on a rainy night as I cried that my marriage was ending. He gave me so much wisdom reminding me that sometimes the worst thing that ever happens to you is the best thing. He was right. And when months later I was whining once again about my lot he told me if I wanted to see who the boss of my life was to go look in the mirror.

He sees my strength when I cannot, and vice versa.

I know not everyone is lucky enough to be this close to a sibling, I am blessed, But the thing is, you may have a great brother or sister in your life but they go by the name of friend instead.

Life can be tough, and it beats us up at times. How lovely it is when we know we don't have to fight the good fight alone. I for one am truly lucky that my best supporter is one I've had my whole life. And it does not go unappreciated.

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