Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dear Baby Brother

It’s another personal one. Bear with me, or skip it.
Baby brother, you are important enough to merit a post.
Alienating my audience, for the win!


I can’t save you.
There. I said it.
I love you, so much.
But I can’t fix it.
And I can’t stand to look in your eyes when you keep asking me to.

Once, on a family hiking trip I was frustrated at having to constantly slow down and wait for everyone else, repeatedly for the entire hike.

I finally stormed off ahead, straight into a cave, without a flashlight.

I followed a family that did have a flashlight.

But they didn’t realize it, and they got too far ahead for me to catch up. And I was trapped in the dark.

And then I realized you’d followed me.

And I was panicked. And you were panicked. And then I was more panicked, because crap, what kind of big sister gets her little brother into her mess?

We finally found our way through to the other side, out into the glorious sunlight!
I attribute this experience to my developing claustrophobia. We were what, 9 and 7 or 8 and 6 years old? I can’t remember.

Here’s the deal, little brother.

I spent years trying to protect you.
I spent years trying to stand up for you.
I learned about IEPs long, long before any of my education peers. I became your advocate and even attended some of those meetings to speak up for you.

I forgave you for the many ways you embarrassed me as a teenage girl.

I tried to be another parent when ours couldn’t handle you. And sometimes, I was the only one you would listen to. And so I held that responsibility and took it upon myself to be my brother’s keeper.

But I can’t save you.
I haven’t been the mythical, “she can calm her brother down, she’ll know what to do” big sister in many years. You grew up. You grew taller than me. And my big sister magic, in all but the shell of its existence, faded away.

That day, long ago, when we wandered into that cave, we both had a choice.
I chose to wander off into the unknown without a flashlight.
But I didn’t expect you to follow me. And it was your choice to follow me.
I can’t fix everything for you. I never really could.

If I had an easy answer, believe me, I would have told you long ago. If I could fix it, it would already be fixed. I tried so hard to make it better. But I can’t.

Baby brother, I love you with all my heart, please don’t misunderstand.

Send me an email. Talk to me on Skype. Don’t think I never want to see you. Every time I enjoy a coconut, I think of you struggling in the driveway opening one with a hammer, or with the coconuts in Hawaii…
Ask me to buy you bootleg movies. Ask me to send you a Thai SIM card, for God knows what purpose. But most of all just talk to me.

I wish you all the best.

But you can’t follow me any more.
Especially if neither of us have a flashlight.

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