Chris and I went to see a play yesterday afternoon called Winners. In it, a family struggles with a dad who has long been unemployed, a mother who has to step up to a higher level job (seemingly against her own will for the sake of the family), and ends up having a serious extramarital affair with her boss. The two kids have strained relationships with their parents, but they seem comfortable and seek solace with each other. One night, their parents come home late from the mom’s work event, and they are screaming at each other. The father is accusing the mother of cheating on him with her boss, and the mother screams and says, “I want a divorce!”
Both their older son and younger daughter are awake. The girl is in her brother’s room at the time, and they hear everything. They are both deadly silent after the outburst, and the sister starts to leave her brother’s room. “Where do you think you’re going?” the big brother asks. She comes back to the bed with him, and he wraps his arms around her to protect her.
I immediately started tearing up. I couldn’t help it. And then I started crying. Even the woman sitting next to me offered her little tissue packet to me and asked me if I was okay. That’s what big brothers do. When they know their sisters are scared or upset, they want to be there for them to protect them and make them feel better about the world, even if just for a little bit. That’s the way Ed was. I never shared any of my real “problems” or dilemmas with him. Part of the reason was because I knew anything I could call a “problem” would be nothing compared to his problems. The other reason is I’ve always known he’s a worrier like our mother, so I knew if I ever told him anything seriously wrong, he’d worry about me and even be paranoid, particularly given our distance.
My big brother is gone from this world, but his memory still strongly lives on, and every time I see a big brother with a little sister or sibling, I will be reminded of him and me together in the past.