I’ve hesitated to share this, because it’s vulnerable. I’m not opposed to being vulnerable online, but I’m always sensitive to share stories that belong to me only. It’s not my place to share someone else’s story.
But today I’m going to share a piece of my story, and it will only be a piece, because some things just have to remain private. But I’ll share a little, because perhaps someone can identify. Perhaps this vulnerability will be cathartic in a way that’s needed not just for me, but for anyone who is separated from someone they love.
My Facebook feed has exploded with photos of friends and their siblings today. Happy pictures of siblings both young and all grown up, all smiling for the camera, because apparently today is National Sibling Day. That’s a thing, I guess. I never knew we had so many reasons to celebrate until Facebook came along.
National Talk Like a Pirate Day, National Submarine Day (I’m not kidding), National Corn on the Cobb Day (for real?!), and my personal favorite: World Nutella Day (thank you, random holiday schedulers).
I’ve enjoyed seeing photos of all my friends with their siblings. I particularly like the side by side comparisons of young siblings next to grown siblings. It’s sweet, and I’m genuinely pleased to see celebratory messages between siblings. But I’m also terribly sad, because you see…
I am alone.
I haven’t seen or spoken to my only sibling in two years. I still can’t believe that that is my reality, but it is. I am operating as an only child these days, and there’s a pain in that reality that is difficult to express.
Once upon a time, my brother and I were close. I was the dominant older sister, and he was the sweet, complacent younger brother who gave me anything I wanted. It worked well, though perhaps he would have preferred I’d let him lead now and then.
There are sweet memories of childhood, though, and those are the ones I cling to when the silence of separation starts to feel deafening. I remember the Christmases when we’d pile up together in bed and stay up late into the night, listening for the sound of Santa’s sleigh. Then we’d wake in the wee hours of the morning, much to mom’s chagrin, and tear downstairs to see what had been left behind.
There are memories of playing on the beach, and laughing together as a family. There are happy memories (ones that apparently always include dressing up, because just about every picture I found had us in some crazy get up), and I’m thankful for those.
But as time progressed and we grew older, the differences in our personalities became more pronounced. The pull away from one another happened slowly, and I take responsibility for my part.
The reasons for our current separation are both murky and confusing, but I won’t at all claim that I had no part in our fractured relationship. When I left for college, I lost all claim to any hope of a Sister of the Year Award. I went to Texas and left him behind in Missouri, and it never occurred to me that my leaving might be difficult. I enjoyed my life away, the independence I felt living on my own.
It’s easy for me to look back on those years and justify my behavior. I was 18. I was acting in youthful ignorance, and arrogance. But my youthful arrogance left my brother alone at home at a time when life got very confusing. There were things that happened in our extended family that I was able to remain separated from, but my brother had to live through a different reality.
I wasn’t there for him.
It’s a regret I will carry for the rest of my life, because if I had been there, perhaps he would have trusted me more when he grew into an adult. Instead, I was too distanced. And despite the fact that I apologized to him, and begged his forgiveness (which he readily granted), the damage had been done. I wasn’t a friend to him when he needed me most, and so he lived his life without me in it.
The last seven years have been a challenge of trying to repair the damage, and working through new issues. There’s enough blame to go around to everyone involved, but it does no good to try to rehash every moment that led us to this final separation. I’ve learned that sometimes you can try too hard, and in the trying you actually do more harm than good.
I don’t even know where my brother is now. I don’t have an address or a phone number or an email address. I don’t know his family, and he doesn’t know mine. And I embrace my part in that separation with full remorse. I wish things were different.
On this National Sibling Day, I celebrate the good memories I had with my brother, and I hope for reconciliation. I suppose there is a part of me that’s hoping, maybe, he reads this blog and will hear my heart and be willing to reach out and start a dialogue.
To those of you who are able to truly celebrate this random holiday, I offer you my only advice – be thankful always for what you have in your siblings. Cherish them, and never give up on knowing them as adults. Because it is truly a precious relationship to have someone who knew you then and knows you now.
I love you, dear brother, and I do hold hope in my heart that someday we can enjoy one another’s company again. I just wanted you to know.
Happy National Sibling Day
(I seriously can’t believe that’s a thing…)