Growing up with brothers gave me many opportunities other girls did not get. For example, being dog piled underneath bean bag chairs so often that I’m now claustrophobic. Playing with Matchbox and AFX cars. Dissecting live toads in the back yard. And finally, getting a boys perspective on things when your girlfriends just didn’t understand. Matthew is 5 years older than me so once I got to high school I immediately had a group of older friends, much to his chagrin. In contrast, Nathan was 4 years younger than me so I always had boys around that I could pick on—definitely an added perk.
Tim’s sister is 3 years younger than him and when we got married, she cried. I’m pretty sure they weren’t tears of joy. A few years later I found out that my little brother cried as well. He loved Tim and was happy to have him as a part of our family but he knew with the advent of the new family unit, our relationship as brother and sister, living in rooms across the hall from each other, would drastically change. It helped me to understand what Tim’s sister was probably feeling, too.
I must admit the relationship with my little brother did change once I got married and it wasn’t for the better. There were fewer phone calls, fewer deep talks, and late night chats after date nights became non existent. Months before Nathan died we were closer than we’d been in years. He came to live with us to go through detox from Heroin and try to get away from the environment that constantly tested his resolve to stay clean. Nate helped us with projects around the house. But my frustration with him grew when he would get up at 3:00 a.m. to have a bowl of cereal. The sound in our 1 bedroom loft carried and bounced about with the pine boards that lined our interior walls. Little did I know that in just a few short months I’d never hear him pour himself a bowl of cereal again.
Intentionality describes the way I interact with my older brother and his family today. Texting my nephews to see how their games went or simply to see how their day is going. We try to make the 90 mile trek to their house to have dinner and game time to stay acquainted with what is going on in each others lives. I am not nearly as good at staying in touch as I would like—it seems the older I get the faster life continues to pass me by. The only way to make relationships thrive and grow is to give them the priority they need. I don’t want any regrets in life when it comes to family relationships and my part in making an effort to stay close. Heaven knows I don’t want to find myself complaining about something they’re doing one moment and then find myself at their funeral the next.