He ain’t heavy


I’ve heard that from birth, infants have an attachment to their older siblings—that whenever its older sibling walks into proximity, a baby’s gaze will latch on and watch in mesmerized entertainment.

I caught myself perking up that way when my big brother, K, entered the room the other week.

Over the past decade and a half, I’ve only been able to travel back east to see my family about twice a year. It’s not nearly enough time.

It didn’t happen deliberately at first, but somehow, having a date with my brother has become something I look forward to each time I board a plane at LAX.

Most of the time when we go out, we have so much fun socializing, joking, watching sports, or playing with our latest iToys that the conversation doesn’t get too deep. And yet sometimes, we play that memory game. Pick any given family event in 1976 (or 1982 or 1978): I remember what happened on the inside of the house, he’s got the story from the driveway (or vice versa). We’re putting the puzzle of our lives together, together.

It’s not just about ancient history, though. I know that, if and when I need to, there are things I can talk to K about that no one else would understand.

I’m determined not to write an overly trite ode to his virtues, but I could. It would be so easy. Instead, I’ll focus on my favorite of his attributes: his sense of humor.

Nobody, not even Patton Oswalt, can make me laugh the way he does. It’s not just me who thinks he’s got a gift. One of my favorite memories is of a day in 1996 when his daughter, S, was just learning to talk. She was such a cute little toddler. From the time she began pronouncing her first words, she had a compulsive need to use full sentences. The result was that she sounded like she was stuttering while she collected her words to build the whole message. The three of us, K, S & I were playing Keep Away in our parents’ pool. K kept making these radically funny faces. It was as if he was channeling the village oaf. S and I were reduced to side splitting laughter repeatedly. Finally, S told me as if it were news, “My … my … my dad … my dad … my dad is sooooo funny!”  And she was right.

These days, when S argues with her little brother, K and I take pleasure in horrifying them with the news that someday they are going to be best friends, just like us.

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This is an entry in Genie Alisa’s Living Out Loud project. You can read this month’s prompt here: Living Out Loud Volume 18: My Brother’s Keeper.

2 thoughts on “He ain’t heavy

  1. I totally do the “gaze” when I first see my sister or brother after the months between visits I am able to make. :)

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    Hey Rachel, Just stopped by your blog …I can’t wait to read more. Thanks for writing.

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