I am the youngest of four siblings. Doug and Nick are barely a year apart, followed by Amelie, then me. Sometimes I watch the four of us around the dinner table and wonder how we were each born from the same two parents. And then in rarer times, quieter times, I see the subtle thread that ties us; the binding, intangible something in our hearts that seeks greatness and loves easy. On many nights, like tonight, I wonder who I’d be without my siblings. And if I’m feeling extra philosophical, I wonder what the world would be like without them. I find them that important! There’s a strong energy about the four of us. We do OK on our own, but there’s this tangible vibrancy when we’re together. And this unintended dynamic of reverse reciprocals has formed among us. Where one is slow the other is fast. Where one is hard the other is soft. Where one yells the other soothes. Where one forgets the other remembers.
What has occurred to me recently is that each one of us carries a different piece of our dad around. And this is why I think there is such powerful and positive energy when the four of us are together; we’re putting together four pieces to revive a beautiful whole. Since each of our relationships with our dad was different, and we were all different ages when he died, we all carry something different. My brother Doug carries his Peace and Patience. Nick carries his thoughtfulness and social graces. Amelie carries his joyful “Burst of Sunshine” characteristic. And I carry his attentiveness to the voiceless. We ALL carry his sense of humor, his fearlessness in being weird, his desire to play meaningless pranks, and his simple talent of just being fun. At least, we all try.
Having the three of them in my life has been a true gift. And maybe while I’m prancing around in LaLa Land I should clear up that we are NOT The Brady Bunch over here. We have plenty of dysfunctional to pass around. We yell at each other, make fun of each other, grow insanely impatient with one another, and sometimes we even wrestle. It isn’t uncommon for my brother to call me a turd sandwich or my sister to call Nick an asshole at least once every few days. When it happens, usually I’m acting like a turd sandwich and Nick is in fact acting like an asshole. Sometimes he calls Amelie a pain in the ass, which she can be. And we all yell at Doug for being the slowest human being on the planet. BUT. But, but, but. Behind any name-calling, shouting, mental or physical abuse, there is a deep and unbreakable love. It’s always been there. Even in my loneliest of times, there has been a quiet assurance in the back of my mind that I am not actually alone. I know in the that before I’m out under a bridge somewhere, I have three doors to knock on first, and each I know would open.
Whether in the form of a helping hand, money, food, shelter, an ear, a reality check, a pat on the back, or a cheering-up, we’ve all lent to one another different things at different times. And it’s a real treasure that we’re able to do that. You’ll have to excuse my notalgic sulking, I’m a little down in the dumps now that the house is quiet and there isn’t a cacophony of sibling rivalry bouncing off our walls. I always get sad after we make the last trip to the airport to bid the last family member adieu. Today we said good-bye to Nick, and all is finally quiet here. I’ve always loved the chaos of having them home. Ever since I was in 7th grade and Doug was first to go off to college, I always became exceedingly anxious around late November, because it meant everyone was coming home again. We’d finally all be together. Now I’m 27, and still the anxious kid around November, and sulky in early January, after everybody leaves. Anyway, I need to stop boo-hooing. Just thought I’d let Doug, Nick, and Amelie know, I love you. A lot. Even though you’re all turd sandwiches. Can’t wait till next year.
Health, Happiness, And A Quiet House Again.