As a writer, I love words, from the funniest sounding like kerfuffle to the mundane like water. This week I’ve been obsessing over a couple of words, beginning with the word sibling. It’s such a cold, sterile sounding word, perfect for doctor forms, college applications, and census forms. Think about it. No one has ever said, “I hugged my sibling.” You hug a brother or you hug a sister.
Jealousy is another awful word, but I spend a lot of time these days experiencing it. No, I don’t care what kind of car you drive. You live in a humongous house—good for you. Those jeans you’re wearing are a size six. I’ll toast you with wine and ice cream. My jealousy travels on a different path. I envy your ability to hug your brother. I can’t. But I would give every dime I have or ever will have, for just a few more moments of time with him.
It irritates the shit out of me to hear people tell stories, edged with pride, of how they haven’t spoken with their brother/sister in X amount of years, because he/she, insert reason here. Ninety-nine percent of the time the inciting incident is stupid—failed to pay back loans, insulted kid, or jealousy… Yes, there are the extreme situations such as abuse when separation is necessary. But today, I’m pontificating about simple disputes that take on a life of their own.
How in the hell could anyone be proud of, not speaking to the human-being who bears more in common with them than any other? I don’t just mean genetically.
Last week, Pini and I were having coffee on the deck, engaging in our annual where-are-we-going-on-vacation disagreement, which brought up the subject of Florida. I launched into the story of my dad loading my mom, me and Don into my grandfather’s 1970 something, block-long bomb of a car and heading off to Florida. At one point in the story, Pini rolled his eyes and said, “Sure.”
“Really, it’s true,” I shot back. “Ask Don.”
We both froze.
Life passes through stages—childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and hopefully very old age. It’s only our brothers and sisters who transition through all the stages with us. They help connect our past, present and future together. They’re the constant, sharing traditions, beliefs and memories. My brother remembered the simple things, like Sunday spaghetti dinners at my grandma’s house, and our grandfather’s habit of calling all his grandsons Sally and his two granddaughters Jimmy. Don and I both loved reminiscing about the Christmas day Elvis showed up on our front porch. He wore a purple Santa suit and gave us signed vinyl records. Now, the last two sentences could be huge lies. But, you’ll never know. Don isn’t here to confirm or deny it.
Our brothers and sisters taught us to navigate the relationships we have today. You’ve been happily married for years. Thank your brother/sister. All the fighting, laughing, and negotiating provided you with the skills needed to survive all relationships. Most of us learn at a young age that the silent treatment solves nothing. So why use it on the one person who may have the spare body part you might need someday?
On Friday, June 27, 2014, my brother would have turned forty-seven. He liked to celebrate with simple things, beer, gummy bears, and grilling with family. I’ve spent the week brooding and dreaming of the chance to give him one more hug.
I’ll never get what I want, so I’m going to ask you to do it for me—please. On Friday, hug your brother or sister. If they live far away—call, Skype, or email. If you haven’t spoken in years, reach out. All it takes is a simple email. “I’m thinking of you. Hope you are well.” Imagine the chain of your life and fix the weak link, before it breaks completely.
Do it for me and my late, beloved brother, Donald Dobransky.