This time last week, I was an older sister to two "kids." I was preparing to head back home to see my little brother marry his girlfriend of eight years. It seems like big life changing events never fail to bring out the best and worst in families. This one did not disappoint. Through it all, I found myself juggling a slew of emotions.
Euphoria that my baby brother is taking a big leap into a life with new twists and turns. He is joining his life with another, for all the good and bad that those bonds produce. He is a man. And he now takes the life of someone else into his capable hands to support and cherish. As I hugged him and felt our salty wet cheeks touch in a hug that said far more than our mouths could...I wanted him to know how proud I am of him. It wasn't easy growing up in our household. We all have our individual emotional scars to prove it. Still he's taken all that he's learned and he's taking a courageous step forward.
Sadness that with this new chapter, perhaps the big sister part of my family duties isn't as important as it was before. Watching him say his vows, a home movie reel played just behind my eyes. I see him with his big curls and even bigger eyes, dancing around my legs avoiding a bug moving just too fast for his tastes. I remember his silly face clowning for the video camera, talking about pilgrims. I remember all the times we fought and the laughter and love that always came shortly thereafter. I remember picking him up after falls, and taking him in my arms...my favorite little raggedy Andy. As much as I celebrate the man he is...a part of me wants to go back one more time and hear his voice without the bass.
Fear that perhaps the journey he prepares to take is one I may not have the chance to follow. As much as I tried to squash it, I felt pangs of envy. As the oldest sister, I've become accustomed to "establishing the trend." I lead, they follow. Now as I get intimately close the notion of forty...I realize we are not all guaranteed to have the same life experiences. I'm not...well...married to the notion of marriage, but I've always aspired to be connected to a partner. Building something. Big or small didn't matter, but something still that we would celebrate together as our life. Some elements of those wishes and wants, may still come. Others may not. I came face to face with my own immortality and sense of closing doors as I watch my brother prepare to open them.
Resentment that while so many things change and evolve about our family dynamics...some things remain painfully the same. I came face to face with some of my old demons and negative personality patterns for coping in times of stress. I realized how painfully hungry I am for things to be done differently, while struggling to accept that some things just...are what they are. Sometimes when you step away from things...you believe because you've grown, you'll somehow be more adept at handling the same old problems. Oft times, what happens is, you revert back to the same old way of processing pain, or anger, or fear...because the old habits feel more available than the new ones. I crawled back into my shell, just when I needed to find my voice. I hid...when I should have stood tall. I cowered when I should have challenged. And even now...I'm still feeling great frustration with myself and others as a result of it.
So much good overshadows whatever sprinkles of bad are found. It's up to me, really...to decide where I want to spend my emotional energy. I think it's best spent right now, thinking of the grown man now enjoying the sand between his toes.
I wonder if he remembers the days in the sand the way I do.