brothers

Forty Days Til’ Forty, Day 32: What’s a Girl to Do With Three Brothers?

When my mom was pregnant with my baby brother, we didn’t know whether she’d be having a boy or a girl. Knowing how badly I wanted a sister, she had a consolation prize ready for me in the event of another boy. Sure enough, I was the lucky winner of a new doll after she delivered another winsome boy.

Being the only girl of four kids but only 17 months younger than my older brother, I tended towards characteristics that were more like the oldest. There were, however, some characteristics that were so uniquely my older brother, that even I couldn’t learn them–his propensity towards keeping tabs on who ate the last kitkat; his exceptional skill at building model airplanes; his debating abilities; his crazy smarts which undoubtedly got him to where he is today, a professor of archaeology at UCLA and a real-life Indiana Jones.

We fought like cats and dogs growing up. No one could get under my skin like my older brother. Yet, almost immediately after he left for college, I discovered a friendship with him that surprised me. How was it that this great guy had grown up with me all these years, and I hadn’t realized it? In the many years since then, I have grown to love and appreciate the man he has become. And in the last few years when I needed to know there was still a good man out there, he demonstrated the fight and honor for me that I needed following a devastating divorce.

Just a couple months after I moved back to Maryland, he and his family arrived in Baltimore for a Sabbatical year. There is no doubt in my mind that this was divine orchestration. His family’s presence that year offered tremendous support to me and my two kids as we shared regular Sunday dinners, and our kids got to know each other in that familiar playmate kind of way, something we rarely experienced with our own cousins growing up.

And so it is, on day 32, I offer thanks for this good man for demonstrating faithfulness, affection, and care when I needed to know there was at least one good man. I love you big brother.

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Forty Days Til’ Forty, Day 24: Flashback Friday – My Brother, My Friend

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In less than a week, our lives changed forever. From a Wednesday to a Sunday, he went from being your typical seven-year-old boy to a cancer survivor. A few unsettling signs that something was off–a limp when he walked, trying to write with the wrong hand–raised concern in my parents. I don’t remember my parents telling me that my brother had a brain tumor. I don’t remember which day of the week my dad set up camp in the hospital, next to my brother.

It all happened so fast that my other brothers and I never made it to the hospital to visit David before he was home. In a span of about 10 days, he was admitted, and a cancerous tumor the size of my mom’s fist was removed from his brain. A couple of teachers from school babysat us kids at home during the long days my mom spent at the hospital with my dad who stayed the whole time my brother was there.

Not only did we get David back, he came bearing gifts of toys and stuffed animals. The usual stuff of sibling rivalry reemerged as a little envy over his seeming good fortune crept in. Oh how very little I knew.

During my Forty Days Til’ Forty endeavor, I’m finding that each day is one more opportunity to take pause and say a prayer of thanks. Today, I am grateful that my brother is still alive and cancer-free. I am thankful that I have very few memories of bickering with my brother but so many good ones instead. Somehow this brother escaped the tickle torture I inflicted on my baby brother and the passionate fury I throttled at my older brother. In place of all that are memories of going on camping trips with our youth group, venturing out in the middle of the week to our youth pastor’s house for Bible studies, and the ease of having someone along who I not only called brother but could also count as a friend. I love you, David.