Today my little brother turns 50. He’s one of a kind.
When we were kids our parents got divorced, then both remarried. We had new siblings to get to know. We went through it together. We moved to a new place, started a new school. We went through it together. We built forts, learned to swim, rode his mini bike, rode our bikes all around town, fought, made up, fought for each other and went through it together. A few years later we moved to a bigger town and learned to adjust to being in a much larger school. We went through it together. We lived on a small farm, hauled hay, played in the barn, visited our grandparents, put on plays, romped the woods. We went through it together. We visited our dad, step-mom, and younger brothers and sisters in Montana, drove there once with an aunt who nearly drove us insane, but we did that together. We swam in airplane shaped pools, waded the ocean, learned to fly fish on family vacations. All of it together. When I was 16 I went to Germany/Austria/Holland for three weeks and right as I was getting home, nearly the same day, he left for a trip to Alaska for a couple of weeks. It was the first time we’d done something separate, without each other. We each had a great time, but I can honestly say I missed him and wished I was sharing the experience with him. It didn’t quite seem complete without him. We got a tad older and got jobs at the same place, alongside some good friends. Then he moved away for college (I’d stayed at home for it) and we were, for the first time, truly apart. It was strange, and hard on us both, I think. When it was time for him to move back I flew down, helped him pack up his things, and we drove back in his tiny car stuffed with all of his belongings and had an adventure when the car broke down near Sacramento. We went through it together. Later, we rented a house together with friends. He joined the Naval Reserve and went off around the world for various exercises. I got a job and he got a job and he was nearly deployed to Desert Storm (had the orders and a date, but ended up not going because that particular conflict ended right before he was scheduled to leave). When we told me he was being deployed I hugged and cried and told him to please be careful, try to stay safe. Luckily he didn’t have to go. Later he got married, I was his best “man”, and then he built a house, while I was first living at the beach and then working in Southern Oregon. When I changed jobs and moved back up North I stayed with him and his wife for a few months, until I got a place of my own. He got divorced and I was there for him. I told him I was gay and he didn’t flinch, he was totally supportive. I met K and they, K and my brother, loved each other instantly. I got sick and was bald from the chemotherapy and he shaved his head. K and I moved to Illinois and in preparation, my brother helped me drive a car from Oregon to Illinois filled with household goods, survived a tornado in Colorado during that trip, explored Chicago together, ate some good pie, stood on the ledge, and laughed a lot. We’re good at that, laughing together.
And on and on. So many life experiences shared.
Life has moved forward, huge changes and small ones in our lives, and we support and love each other, always. We have had fights, of course, and disagreed sometimes, but what matters and remains constant is our love for one another and our ability to be silly and laugh together.
My little brother turns 50 today. And though I can’t be with him, I know he knows I’m thinking of him, and in my heart, we’re together.
Happy birthday, Little Big Brother. I couldn’t love you more.