My brother and I had one of the worst sibling rivalries I know of, but it wasn’t until I didn’t have him around anymore that I even bothered to notice how much I needed him there. Every Saturday morning we would be playing peacefully with Matchbox cars and Legos. By Saturday afternoon we were at each other’s throats. I would taunt him and he would chase after me threatening bodily harm. I had perfected screaming his name at the top of my lungs so that my parents could hear, and he had perfected the art of lying his way out of trouble. We plotted ways to make each other’s lives miserable; we were usually successful, but never really won.
On October 30, 2000, my brother and I both got what we had wanted for years. We lost the single wall that separated our rooms, and the chance to taunt and make each other miserable. What we didn’t know was that saying “goodbye” would far surpass any misery we’d ever experienced.
We never spent that Halloween together. He was North Carolina-bound to live with my father. I went to bed that night trying to make sense of everything; as evil as he was to me, I couldn’t think of a negative memory that we had ever had together. Weekends filled with Nerf gun wars flooded my mind. The forts we built every summer soon began to take place of all the times he squirted soap in my mouth. Every bike ride to feed the horses replaced the times he put holes in my door. Every nice thing he had ever done to me dissolved any names he had ever called me.
The night I said “goodbye” to my brother, I didn’t lose him to a car accident or an illness, I didn’t lose him to a cemetery plot, but I lost everything that made him my brother. I lost my Saturday morning companion; I lost my playtime partner; I lost the only person who accompanied me on my every childhood adventure. I missed the teasing, the fighting, the misery that I experienced. I missed the Legos, the cartoons, and the adventures we experienced.
I spent the rest of my youth alone. I see him occasionally; he’s almost a stranger to me now. He has taken up other roles since that October night. He is more than a son and a brother, he is a husband and a father. But, I miss the brother I knew growing up; I miss having someone around when I was growing up.
I believe you don’t know what you’ve got until you say “goodbye”. I never knew what was hidden behind the misery my brother put me through. I never knew that I would miss it. I miss him every day and I know that while he is still around, living his life, I said “goodbye” to the brother I knew and I would give anything to have those Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons back.
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