We were having a conversation over dinner last weekend, me and my boys. About Fathers’ day and Mothering Sunday and whether or not there was a day for Brothers too. Google answered this question, and as luck would have it we were just a few days off. The date of this unofficial holiday is May 24th, which is today! Now, my boys decided they didn’t want to get each other gifts – though they might be less irritating to each other for the day. But my brother is my hero and our bond has only strengthened recently, since I turned forty. I’m going to annoy him with a flood of memes later, but thought I’d write my hero a letter that I’ll never send.
I decided I was going to sit down and write you a letter, but I feel kind of foolish now. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to sit down with a pint, chat while all the children whizz around? Well, it’s national brother’s day and you’re overseas working hard so that’s not an option, so you’re stuck with this, a letter, for my hero.
It’s weird to think how much we used to fight when we were little. Probably more to the point, how mean I was to you. Your little sister with a big swing! Thankfully I grew out of that. But I never grew out of being uber protective of you. Do you remember the story of me standing up to your bullies? Those seven year old boys must have been very confused, this small girl of about three, frown set and fists ready. But they took notice, left you alone – perhaps I was tiny but fierce? First and last time for everything!
In spite of my terrorising you at home, and defending (or more likely embarrassing) you in public, we stayed close. We were always out and about, well you were. I just followed you round like a bad smell. Fishing, biking, beach… And when you weren’t there i was to be found on your computer, or digging out your hidden porn stash.
I think back now, as I write this letter, I can see that not only was I shadowing my hero, we were also forced into the situation when dad got unwell. When mum had to take over his full time care/nursing.
You’d left home by the time my original hero died, I wrote you a letter then too. On paper that time, though it never made it to the post. And at his funeral you looked after your little sister, as mum did all the duties we snuck off for peace behind the crematorium. There is only so many times that a frdhly grieving fifteen year old girl can hear “oooh, haven’t you got your fathers eyes?”
Soon you were back off to uni, and then your work took you up North. You came down South regularly, entertained your annoying little sister on visits. I worked my way through your friends, so maybe I wasn’t that annoying!
Do you remember giving me away at my wedding. I remember, more clearly, sitting on a bench by the harbour on the eve of my wedding. We worked our way through a pack of Marlborough lights, chatted about all kinds of everything. Except the one thing I wanted to tell you. That I wondered if the following day was actually one big mistake.
You married when my oldest was eight weeks old. She got the hackles up on my back, I didn’t know why. Until six weeks later, you turned up in town, stayed at mum’s. What mum shared, about your current position, was all too familiar. But your ex clearly missed a trick. Unlike P, who encouraged the belief that his bad behaviour was my fault, your ex picked a fight with the wrong sibling. I helped you clear the flat you’d lived in, swept peas out of the bottom of your freezer and filled holes in the walls.
It was at this time you would have moved back up north. I remember being surprised that you didn’t, though I was pleased. You weren’t a permanent fixture, work took you overseas often, and for long stretches. But you were there when it counted, much like when dad was ill and we spent the summer making a mountain biking movie. You took me to hospital for my second Caesarean. After I passed my driving test you hopped out of the car at the station and left me, engine running, to figure out how to sort your bloody car! More recently, you’ve been a positive male.role model for my boys. Your oldest nephew opening up to you, he has zero respect for his father after all. And being our long distance IT support, I can.never thank you enough!
It’s less what you’ve done with my knowledge though, more the provate life choices you’ve made with my wellbeing in mind.
Last November mum passed along that you’d stayed in the South West as you were worried about me and P. When I followed the news up with a message later that night you said you didn’t know what was wrong but that it certainly wasn’t right.
I know, had you said anything then, I would have pushed you away. I wasn’t ready to admit that I couldn’t fix it. But then a full eight years since I told P I didn’t love him, a new feeling came over me.
I’ve held people, everyone, at arms length. I give love freely, but never expect it in return. And when I knew the sacrifice you’d made for me, leaving a life you loved to be close to your little sister, it was a sucker punch. The realisation that one of my favourite people in the world was in my corner, even when I didn’t know I needed someone… It really was like a heavy weight.
That I was loved, by one of the very few people whose opinion matters to me, opened up my eyes, and heart, to letting other people love me.
It’s very strange, that one relayed conversation could have such an effect. And as I sit here writing this, my unsendable letter to my hero, I have tears running down my cheeks. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad, but I’m definitely emotional.
Maybe some day I’ll be able to repay you.
I’m not sure sweeping peas out of a defrosted freezer quite cuts it!
Anyway, that’s enough gratitude. Time to see who can give the deadest arm.
With love on national brothers day.
Your most (and least) annoying sister.
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