Apart from my usual social/political commentary, I wanted to write something more personal. Very recently my older brother (biologically, not fraternally) started his own blog. His debut post was focused on the goals he has for the immediate and more long-term future.
What stuck me most about the post was not the goals themselves, but a single sentence towards the end. He writes, “With friends comes family and I have to admit in my mind I have been a shitty brother to both of my siblings, and that’s something that I want to strengthen.” Now I can’t speak for my sister, but I’m sure she’ll agree with the inaccuracy of this statement. Let me explain…
One a purely superficial note, a “shitty brother” does not – I repeat – does not, buy tickets to Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter for their younger brother for Christmas. Instead they buy a bootleg, clearly not written by J.K. Rowling version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Kazakhstan. But I digress.
Growing up I was the epitome of the annoying little brother with an equally (if not more) annoying little sister. I remember not being in elementary school yet and I needed to be at the bus stop every morning with all the older kids. Of course my older brother had to begrudgingly take me along with him.
As we got older, there were constant, and I mean constant, comparisons throughout school. He was the athlete and I was the academic. In the classroom I was praised for not being like my brother. In the gym, I was derided for the same. Somehow through it all, my brother put up with it.
It wasn’t until girls got involved in our lives that we started drifting apart, and this is where I’m sure the “shitty brother” attitude comes into play. In all fairness to him, I made it a point to make Chris feel like a shitty brother in the latter half of my high school years. At that point I was an inseparable best friend with his former flame of some years and with equal measure to the force of that friendship, I hated his then girlfriend (and I’m positive she hated me back). Either way, it was my junior and senior years of high school where I became a true terror to my brother.
I would argue and I would cuss. I did many things I am not proud of, all to make him mad. I’m guessing it worked. I can’t speak for him but I’m sure he resented that about me. It wasn’t until I entered college that I took a minute to look back and find some regrets, a lot of regrets. I resented myself for how I acted towards him in general; I was a “shitty brother.”
Regardless of what happened years in the past, we have come a long way from that. There was a period where we did not talk at all. When I joined my fraternity, I met a guy named Arber, who I vehemently did not like (hi, Arber). As I spent more and more time with him and began to understand how his mind worked, I realized something – he was my older brother. Then I met Donald, Arber’s younger brother, and saw their relationship. That is when I really knew what I screwed up in high school.
It has taken some time and minimal effort, but the relationship between my brother and I has strengthened. Deaths and health issues have played key roles in that, but even more than that there is a desire to become better people and better brothers that propels this forward. In the last year alone, he has been there for me in my most vulnerable of moments and for that I am forever thankful. For that, Chris, you can rest easy and know that you are not a shitty brother – besides, look at our family, we could be worse (that’s a joke for all you aunts reading this).
On a side note, check out that picture and just how happy we are to be siblings.