Sunday, March 30, 2008

Big Sister, Little Brother by Kathryn Magendie

I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea. ~Dylan Thomas

I most always think of him as a little boy, not the young man David was when he died at thirty-two. Imbedded in my memories lie his infectious laugh, impish ways, and gentle nature. My little brother once brought home the mangiest, ugliest stray mutt and named him Dinky. Dinky promptly ate my mini-parrot, but I couldn’t stay mad, and now I’m glad. David’s face was so woebegone I’d have had to harden my teenage heart far too much to yell at him or blame him.

A few years before Dinky, David and I planned to stay awake the entire night—oh, this was a daring, exciting feat before the days of endless television and technology. We sat on my bed—as big sister that was quite an honor for a little brother—and played games, told stories. The last I remember the time, it was four a.m. We awoke the next morning, disappointed we hadn’t quite made it, but I’ve never forgotten the little brother-big sister bond we felt.

And years before that, David was feeling poorly, and so climbed in bed with me, feverish and pale. My sisterly heart took over then, too, instead of the “eyewww…go away, brother!” I petted his head and told him he’d feel better in the morning. Instead, he was rushed to the hospital and would have died if my parents had waited any longer. I remember visiting him, awed at the tubes protruding from his small body. When he came home, it was as if he was made of glass and we didn’t want to break him. Who knew that was only a practice for what would later come. A mean tease from whomever or whatever may be in charge. I suppose some could look at it as a reprieve, delay of the inevitable. I suppose.

So, you may be thinking, what does death of a beloved brother have to do with gratitude? Why...gratitude for those days I can pretend he’s not gone by re-living our childhood. Gratitude for the days I see David’s impish face grinning at his big sister who sometimes showed sisterly charity by being kind instead of bossy and mean. Gratitude I remember those kind sister events more than the mean-sister ones. Gratitude for the time he was here on Earth with us, however short.


Barbara Quinn said...

I'm sorry about your loss of your brother. You are so right that our memories keep us warm company as we go forward without the people we love and we're lucky to have had them in our lives. It hurts and is bittersweet, this thing we call life.

Nannette Croce said...

Isn't it comforting how our minds work so that memories I'm sure were painful just after your brother's death have now become a comfort to you.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I'm glad you have those warming memories. Beautiful post.

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