I didn’t really want a brother. When you were little, I once (ok maybe more than once) dressed you in girls clothing and put barrettes in your hair. I called you Matty. I wanted a sister.
A sister wouldn’t hook up batteries to your bedroom door knob so you would get zapped when you tried to get away from her. I thought if had a sister, we wouldn’t fight like cats and dogs.
She wouldn’t have spent the hours we did, climbing trees, jumping off of swing sets, building forts and hammering nails into everything worth (and sometimes not worth) hammering nails into. A sister certainly wouldn’t have helped me built parachutes for Barbie, then launch her out of the tallest tree in the yard.
Yesterday I went for a drive. For some reason I drove down to the ocean and it made me think of the hours you probably don’t remember, playing in the sand. When Mom and Aunt Shirley took us to the beach. It wasn’t a warm day, being the Pacific Northwest, but we dug holes and searched for crabs and shells and filled our rubber boots with sand.
I thought about the times we went camping. Always in the pouring rain, it seemed. We would whisper in the dark about bears and ghosts and things that go bump in the night. Every once in a while, Mom or Dad would casually say over their shoulder from the campfire, “Go to sleep!” and we really tried not to.
Remember the time I fell off the roof? I went up there to retrieve your Luke Skywalker, attached to a parachute, who had gotten stuck on his escape from the Death Star. I most likely bruised my ribs in that fall. But you kept the secret. Probably because I threatened your life.
Speaking of Star Wars, remember the time we thought Mom and Dad didn’t have names? Through some sort of oversight they had made it their whole lives, to that point, without having proper names. You decided that they should be Han Solo and Princess Leah. Of course your real-life heroes should have hero names!
You and I would spend hours outside imagining epic adventures. Most of them involved the search for Goonie pirate treasure. In our version though, we were chased and captured by Stormtroopers then saved just in time by some good old, slo-mo face melting courtesy of Indiana Jones.
I remember the day you told me about this girl. You knew she was perfect and I worried I would lose you forever to the other side of the world. The day you married her, I saw the tears of joy run down your face and I knew you two would be happy.
Jakob became your new hero. The day he was born was the best day of your life. I watched you bathe him with such tenderness. A far cry from the little brother, much bigger than me, who inadvertently tried to drown me when I was ten or so.
You became my hero when you fought back against this disease that tried to take you from all of us. You didn’t want to leave your beautiful little family. You fought hard. You were always so positive. “I’m okay, I’m okay.”
It must have been something catastrophic for you to leave us. I know that if you could you would have fought your way back. I know you tried.
A sister wouldn’t have given me all those memories. A sister wouldn’t have been the only brother I wish I still had.