The feeling I’m feeling is like when a little girl is expecting a baby brother for the first time and she knows she’ll have much responsibility in raising the kid right, but then as the due date gets closer and closer, the little girl starts to get erratic – shouting her excitement, sleeping in the new baby’s crib because it used to be hers, clinging on to any normalcy – because soon, it will all change.
It will all change soon enough, so her parents tell the little girl to calm down and to enjoy Mommy and Daddy solely for the last time in the next few weeks. The little girl nods her head and smiles while reaching in for a double hug with her two favorite people. All she knows is this consistency. What’s to come in the next few weeks is somewhat like a tornado swirling with questions, sadness, and a bit of happiness.
She should expect the attention to be turned from her to the new baby, and the doubt of her existence to match the importance of his. She should expect to hold him once with a pillow under her elbow for protection because he’s fragile. He’s so fragile. She should expect to be counted on in a more adult way than her years dictate because she knows more than the little baby and because “her brother depends on her” to “be a good role model” and to “love him unconditionally”.
Sometimes parents get the other sibling a gift to shadow the horror of what’s going to soon change her world so drastically. She will need a distraction from it all. The distraction will only last a moment – a couple days, tops – and then be thrown into the toy chest with the other dolls she’s practiced on since she was old enough to grasp. This change is so big that the little girl will probably cry over it more than smile. Little girls don’t know how to accept change. A change like this is life altering. And that’s not being dramatic at all. That’s the truth.
So as I sit here about to be a “big” sister for the first time to my older brother of 31 years, I compare myself to this because it is what it is. At least, it’s the closest metaphor for you to accurately understand how I feel. I go through bouts of panic, excitement, horror, and emotions I haven’t let myself feel in years. What does someone do when they have forgotten how to be a sister? More importantly this question entered my mind on my commute home from work today: What does it mean to have a brother in your life? (And I’m not being dramatic. I want to know.)
In a few weeks, in less than month, in a number of days I can count on my fingers and toes, my brother will be coming home from seven years in prison for vehicular homicide because he drove drunk one night. He will be coming home to our childhood home, back to our mother to be reunited with life after a brother-sister relationship death. Our relationship died.
Because I have committed to wiping the slate clean, to start over anew, I have committed to being excited about his return. But it’s awfully hard to accept all his faults when I don’t know how this brother is or what changes will come to my life I’ve built over the past seven years. I’ve built quite a comfortable one.
I’m wrecked over it on the inside, confused as hell in my heart, but trying to think positive in my mind. I’m trying to talk my body into being ready for this change, this new baby brother shift in my family dynamic.
I will teach my “older” brother many things. I will teach him about Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Gmail and flat screen TVs and iPhones, and Blueray players and e-readers and tablets; the list goes on and on. I will teach my brother the appropriate ways to pay for things now and reinforce good behavior. I will notice when he’s trying, and pep him up when he’s lost steam. I will protect him from bad habits, such as his kicked addiction, alcohol, and from some friends who are still bad influences. I will have to drive him places, and even sometimes hug him to remind him I still love him.
Sometimes I will need him to hug me to make sure I know that he still loves me.
After all this time dreading, wondering, and anticipating, I hope having a new brother was worth the wait.