Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.
It is no surprise or coincidence that soldiers who have seen unspeakable things, can only speak of those things with other soldiers. No surprise that traumatic events can bring people closer together. Form a bond that is unbreakable. Know what a look means without having to say a word.
My brother and I were a typical brother and sister in our early childhoods. He is four years older than me. We played together. We fought. He destroyed my Barbie dolls. Beheaded my baby dolls. I annoyed him in the way little sisters can. I had boundless energy and never stopped talking. Dad had to draw that imaginary line in the backseat that we couldn’t cross or we were in big trouble. It was all so normal. Ordinary.
I’ve said it before…there’s always the “after”…and nothing is ever the same, after. I remember our parents sitting us down in the living room and telling us they were separating. It was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. I was eight. My brother was twelve. Up to that point we had lived a charmed life. Mom was a stay at home mom. Dad was a pilot that provided us a nice house, big pool, huge yard. Vacations with friends, time with family and grandparents. I was in dance and t-ball. My brother played every sport he could play.
And then, in the blink of an eye, it was gone. Within that year, our parents were divorced and both remarried.
My mom married our priest, who had been counseling my parents. She moved us four hours north, away from our friends and family, to go back to work for a company she had worked for years before and to a city who still held many of her dearest friends.
My dad married my stepmom, who also had a daughter and between his work schedule, living four hours away from us and the life they had created, we saw him once a month.
My brother and I became ALL WE HAD. Our life was completely turned upside down. The people we loved, the people we trusted, the life we knew, gone. Our mom who went from baking cakes when we got home from school every day, was now working full time. We were stuck being raised by a stepdad who turned out to be a bipolar, schizophrenic, alcoholic, prescription drug abusing, train wreck of a human being. Yes, ALL OF THOSE THINGS.
Gabe became my security blanket. My protector. Who I turned to for every. single. thing. As long as he was there, I was safe. I became his #1 fan.
He was who I screamed for when our stepdad slapped me across the face as hard as he could. He is who came flying down the stairs and about beat the locked door down that our stepdad fled behind. He is who I looked across the room at when we would spend hour after hour listening to our stepdad lecture us in our day long family meetings. Then we would retreat back upstairs, crash in his room and talk about what a screwed up situation we lived in. He is who sat in the car with me the night our stepdad tried to kill himself, after mom woke us up and rushed us out of the house.
Volleyball was a savior to me. Basketball was a savior to him. Anything that got us out of the madness that lived behind those doors. I spent countless hours rebounding for him. I saw him LOVE the sport, I saw him HATE the sport, and I saw him love it all over again. I sat in the bleachers screaming my heart out every time he took the court, all the way up until he played his last game his senior year of college.
He is who I asked to walk up to the casket with me to see my first husband for the first time since I witnessed him take his last breath. He is who I told never to leave my side, as hundreds of people walked through the line. He never did. He is who I sat next to at that funeral, until he got up to speak. He gave the best eulogy.
He is who drove me to the hospital when I was in labor with Brady, nine days after Brad’s death, and who went between my room and my mom’s the floor above me, as she was dying of cancer the entire night I was in labor.
We took that same walk together up to my mom’s casket just two weeks later.
The “after” hasn’t always been pretty. Life is tough. But there is always a silver lining. Gabe has been my best friend ALL these years. He has been my constant. My safe place to fall since I was just a little girl. We both have family’s of our own and don’t see each other as often as we’d like, but he is a phone call or a text away and we talk every week. We talk about the past. Funny stories. Crazy stories. We talk about our kids. We talk politics and religion. We talk about God and our undying faith in Him. Added bonus, I talk to his wife every week too.
He is a devoted husband. An amazing dad. He continues to be a protector to his people and a light in this world. He gets hangry like I do. He is SO competitive. He doesn’t have a poker face. He isn’t super patient and is quick to react, just like me. We are cut from the same cloth. We are as close as hands and feet. I wouldn’t trade him for the world, even if it meant I got to live that charmed life we had at the start, all on my own.
His birthday prompted this blog post, so Happy Birthday big guy, your sissy loves ya a whole bunch.
As always, thanks for reading!