It was his birthday. He was sat on the floor in his bedroom, all arms and legs, fiddling with some sticks and joints from his box of K’Nex. I stood in his doorway for a second before he noticed me, and felt a deep something inside of myself. He was so tall now, my big brother. Nine years old already.
A couple of weeks ago, we went round the roundabout twice as dad tried to work out how to get to the drop-off zone. Two hours parking in our hometown bought us a five minute drop off at the airport. It was a case of getting the bags out of the car, hugging him, then leaving. He didn’t look back. I think I might have cried if he had.
He sent me a facebook message this week with a link to a post, asking me to show mum if I could. I’ll forward them of course. But they made me think of his ninth birthday. It was the same feeling I felt as a seven-year-old, but he wasn’t playing with K’Nex, he was doing press-ups and pull-ups and goodness knows what else. He wore the same grin. I’d seen him in a camouflage t-shirt before but this is different. The uniform made me feel that same thing I’d felt all those years before.
I’m still not sure what it is.
There is a little pride of course, it’s hard not to be proud of your big brother, even when he drives you nuts. He’s always protected me. Of course I’m proud of how he’s become such a sweet, decent guy.
I guess you could say there’s some excitement and happiness too. I would know his grin anywhere. In one of the pictures, he’s hanging from a metal climbing frame with the same pleased smirk he’s always had. The last few years haven’t been the easiest for him but I’m glad he’s enjoying what he’s doing now. I’m excited too — he’ll do well, he has it in him.
There’s this other feeling mixed in there too, one without an English word that I know of. Galau. I’ve found it difficult at times, the way our relationship has changed as we’ve grown. We were distant for a time but we got closer again and it’s a little strange now he’s entering a world I don’t know, one where I can’t tag along as the admiring little sister. It’s that feeling that he’s going to change in ways which will challenge him but he needs to do it himself. It’s a peculiar feeling of wanting the simplicity of the past back, of not wanting to move forward into the unfamiliar, but knowing there’s little choice and it’ll be fine when we get there.
It seems so long since we stripped down to t-shirts and knickers and dug holes on the beach till the tide came in and filled them. So long, since we built dens on the bunk beds and played elves in the woods. It feels like forever ago we visited the Wallace and Gromit room of Belton Park.
Sometimes everything inside of me wants to kick against the constraints of time and change, but our God has ordained it and whatever he ordains is right. I can only trust him as time and tide bear us on, and continue to pray that time and providence would bring salvation to both my brothers as we change and grow.