To the outside world, we all grow old.
But not to brothers and sisters.
We know each other as we always were.
We know each other's hearts.
We share private family jokes.
We remember family feuds and secrets,
family griefs and joys.
We live outside the touch of time.
- Clara Ortega
Turns out I missed "National Sibling Day" – at least according to fb. Since I try not to let fb tell me what to do or how to feel, I didn't spring into action to get a blog post. But, I had been thinking about sibling-hood. I was glad that for the occasion I was able to find some quotes.
I was catching up on back episodes of Parenthood recently. There was one episode in particular that reminded me why I enjoy this show. It turns out I am not as interested in the pains and joy of parenthood that they display. I am more touched by the siblinghood. I think they portray the drama of family dynamics so well – and often hit a nerve with me, and I imagine with others as well. It is a constant tug of war between the now and the then. Whenever the siblings deal with each other, the viewers can see how each character vacillates between the young persona and the adult persona – and the others are doing the same.
In this one episode, Just Like at Home, the glue that binds the siblings was most passionately and delicately displayed. The sister who might arguably be the most self-centered, and happens to be the baby, is going through a separation. She is sending her kids to spend the weekend with their father – and she will be home alone. Each of her siblings, with busy and dramatic lives of their own, is secretly worrying about her and plotting to take care of her. Maybe it is that she is the baby – and not unfamiliar with being in the needy category. She doesn't ask any of them to make it better or take care of her. But they all show up over the course of the evening. They don't want to talk about what's wrong, or tell her what to do to make it better. They come over with food and drink and end up in a dance party and a sleepover.
It is what I will miss most about not having my brother and sister here anymore – maybe because I was their little sister … their first little sister, the one they learned how to take care of others with. Every day is sibling day for me since my brother and sister died. I haven't quite honed my coping skills so that every memory doesn't twinge with pain. Maybe someday … lately, I have been trying to bring up my sister to my nephew. I don't know if it is the right thing to do. I don't know what is right or wrong. But, I know that I know things that he can only learn through me.
The therapist asked why these two deaths hit me so hard, and I have been trying to figure it out. It is not as if I talked to my sister or brother every day. It is more that when I talked to them, I didn't have to explain. It is not that I am not close to my younger brother and sister. It is that my older and brother were intimately involved in how I grew up. That there are not really any other people in the world that know me the way that they knew me. It is not to say that I don't have friends who know me well or that my other family members don't know me. It is just different. And now that they are gone, that knowledge, those memories from their perspective, that understanding is gone.
There are hurts and pains and joy that only your brother and your sister can heal, know and feel. And as much as all of that is true, there are so many times in my life that I felt like no one understood me. I was the alien in the mix. I still am with my birth family in so many ways. But my brother and sister tried to reach me – more than anyone else in my family. Sometimes they failed and sometimes they succeeded. I know that they tried because it was in those moments of trying that I came to know of the secret knowledge they carried about me.
So, yes, I celebrate all my brothers and sisters, those from the flesh and those not, those still in bodily form and those who have left me.