I was tough back then… a junior in college. It was Christmas break and I had only been home for a couple of hours when my younger brother came bounding down the stairs and into the kitchen. My mom and I were talking, or better said, I was telling stories that surely impressed her. Either way, I hardly noticed Drew.
He noticed me though. I had left the door to our garage open while bringing my bags in from the car. Drew had found a Siamese kitten two years earlier. Muffin, so named before Drew discovered she was really a he, had escaped into the night.
“Who left the door open!”
I turned to him with a taunting look and proudly announced, “I did. What are you going to do about it?”
We had always had a sketchy relationship. Drew and I loved each other dearly, but if any two brothers ever “got into it,” as much as we did while growing up, I’d like to see it. In all our fighting though, he had never landed a punch like he was about to that night.
Drew has long legs. That’s how he got across the kitchen so quickly. I wasn’t concerned with his legs though… it was that balled up fist on the end of his lanky arms that finally caught my attention. He nailed me right in the eye.
“What was that for!” Never mind. I wasn’t going to wait for an answer. Grabbing him by the hair I threw him to the floor, cocked back my arm, and probably would have done something stupid if it wasn’t for the shocked look I happened to catch on my mothers’ face.
“You’re so stupid,” I said. (Fights were always his fault). I threw some more words at him and went up to my bedroom angry, scared, and upset with both of our actions.
An hour had passed by when he knocked on my door.
“Can I come in?”
That night was a turning point in our relationship. Neither one of us knew it then, but it was. Aside from the six inches he now towers over me with, Drew had done a lot of growing while I was away. So had I.
We weren’t talking like brothers that night. It was more like the conversations I had with my roommates at college. I respected his opinions; he didn’t have to be defensive of mine. Somewhere, under all of the facades we had spent so many years designing, the underlying love finally broke through.
Before the night was over we were laughing about the time I rolled him down a flight of eight stairs… inside a dog cage… with my mom’s poor Pomeranian along for the ride. We laughed at the time I shot him with my BB gun, how we used to ague over the front seat, and how he once threw a broom at me like some kind of javelin. (I ducked and it was left sticking out of the wall).
I’m not sure which one of us benefited the most from that conversation. It’s been four years since that night. Drew and I live several states apart, I’m married, and he’s graduating from college in less than a month. Much has changed, but our relationship only grows stronger. We don’t talk as much as we’d like to, but the cool thing is that I miss my little brother. It’s like someone turned on a switch that night and we’ve never been the same.
Growing up is tough work, especially if you have siblings. Will it be easy? No. Will you make it one day? I’m sure you will.
There are only 35 days left until Christmas. That’s the next time I’ll see him. I can’t wait.