My brother and I are 7 years apart but he’s one of my best friends. After all these years I can still remember pacing the the waiting room of the hospital dying to go see my new baby brother. He was my own real life baby doll. I have always been happy that God gave me a brother and not a sister. He has a wickedly dry sense of humor and a kind heart. My kids think he walks on water. (What kid wouldn’t love an uncle who sneaks them nerf guns and candy every chance he gets?) We’ve spent hours arguing, crying, and laughing together over the years. We even shared a room for most of our lives. I was there for his football games and he was there for ALL of my dance recitals and competitions (poor kid) not to mention all of our major milestones along the way.
When our parents decided to part ways it was hard on us for so many reasons. It was especially hard knowing that we wouldn’t be around each other as much. I’d decided that at 18 I wasn’t interested in going between houses. I chose to stay in our house with whichever parent had possession of it. Being 11, he went back and forth. The first Christmas after our parents separated I made him a promise. Wherever he decided to go for Christmas, I’d go. “Where you go, I go,” became our agreement from that day forward. It worked for us even as I graduated and started my life in the real world.
Things changed when he decided to join the NAVY after high school. Suddenly, I couldn’t be there to protect him from the world like I wanted to. He didn’t need it, but that’s what big sisters do. The Hubs and I planned our wedding to make sure that he would be there by our sides. He was the best man. One month later he went to freeze his butt off and become a NAVY man in Great Lakes. It was the longest we’d ever gone without seeing and talking to each other in his entire life. I hated it. He wrote and said that he was fine but the food sucked. I prayed for him every night. We watched his graduation on live stream and cheered even though we knew he couldn’t hear us.
When he finally got to come home for a visit I cried. He was skinnier than if ever seen and looked so grown up. The “grown up” quality faded as soon as he opened his mouth but it was a change nonetheless. We were fortunate to have him close by when the twins were born. He was one of their very first visitors. They were three months old when he left for Spain. Before he left we got tattoos inspired by our Bonus Dad’s nicknames for us. “1.0 and 2.0” They’re on our shoulders so we can always see it. A permanent reminder that “where you go, I go.”
Spain was hard on him. Unbelievably hard. And suddenly when I felt like he needed me most, I couldn’t be there in person. Couldn’t hug him and let him know that everything would be okay. It nearly tore my heart out of my chest. I have rarely felt so helpless in my life. When we talked I reminded him to look at his shoulder. To know that I am always there. I told him again “where you go, I go.”
He came back to the US but I couldn’t go to see him. Plane tickets aren’t cheap and I had babies to nurse. We talked on the phone a lot. When he came home to visit and I finally got to hug him I cried like a baby. True to his nature, he made fun of me. He spent his time at home with all of us and when he left I made sure to hug him super tight. Now we talk all the time about work and life and dumb stuff. He has gotten to know the kids via FaceTime and videos. The Twins glow when they see him on the screen or hear his voice.
Siblings are a blessing for so many reasons but for us it’s always been about knowing that no matter where we are in the world, there is always someone out there that has our back. Someone cheer us on when we’re struggling and to take us down a notch or two when our heads get too big. Someone who remembers the stupid stories and has shared our past in a way that only a sibling can. I can only hope that my kiddos grow up to be this close. Close enough that when it comes time for life to move them apart they can say “Where you go, I go” and mean it.