One of the happiest days of my life was December 22, 1987.
It was the day that my little brother was born. Alex. The coolest brother ever.
I wanted a brother so very badly. I mean, I already had a sister and to make the sibling collection complete, a brother would be perfect.
From the night I found out my first step-mother was pregnant I prayed to get a little brother. Pretty dedicated for the mind of a ten-year old that still didn't understand the entire prayer thing.
I'd start my prayer off like this:
"Father and Mother God. Guide me as I sleep. Guide my middle-sized feet to thy. Thanks.
Hello. This is Ladeeleroy. I live at 4121 Street in Shreveport, Louisiana. I'm in the 71106 zip code, Caddo Parish, USA. North America. Northern Hemisphere. Planet Earth.
Thanks for all the good stuff that happened to me today. I liked it. Thanks for my parents not dying today. Thanks for my sister. Thanks for my stuffed animal Doggie. I love him.
Please let the baby be a boy. It's cool if it's a girl. But I really want a brother.
Okay. That's all. A boy. Have a good day. Thanks again for all you do.
Amen and women."
This is how I would fall asleep everynight... letting the Higher Powers That Be know exactly where they could find me (because they probably got a crap load of requests every night), telling them I thought that They were doing a good job, and slipping in a little Request at the end, if They weren't too busy.
I remember seeing him for the first time in the hospital. Little and wrinkly. He had a huge vein on the top of his forehead that went to the crown of his head... covered in sweet, silky, baby smelling black hair. He had little hands. Little toes. Brown eyes barely open, but just enough to give you the hint that he was totally Aware of what was going on around him.
I was scared to hold him. He was so small. He was so wanted. What if I held him wrong and the adults started panicing about his neck and softspot and brain?
But, when he was placed in my arms, I knew he was my brother because he fit so perfectly. My arms were meant to cradle him. He knew that I was his Big Sister.
I was in love. (In the sibling sense, you perverts.)
As he grew older, it was very obvious that Alex & I were brother and sister. We looked alike. We had the same facial expressions. Same gangly arms and legs and incredibly long toes.
He is the apple of my eye.
My sister loved him, too. I have many mental pictures of seeing them lying next to each other in front of the small television we had- both watching a video that sang songs like, "My Mamma comes back. She always comes back... she always comes back to get meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee."
But I was the eldest. The one that he wanted to be like. (Maybe that's egotistical, but it's true.) We would gang up on Doobird and play games like "Monster"; screaming and running from Doobird, causing scars and issues in her brain, I'm sure, with each shriek of "AHHHHHHH! She's a monster! Get away! Get away!" Alex would cram himself into the corner of the long couch that now resides in my apartment. I would shield him from Doobird using my skinny frame and pillows. Doobird would either finally give up in trying to not be the Monster, or start crying, causing a guilt trip to ensue and we'd all find another game to play together- one that wouldn't cause young minds to question family loyalty, etc.
I was the only one to see him take his first step.
I was the one whos lap Alex wanted to sit on for his first haircut.
I was the one who took Alex for a drive to McDonald's when we found out that my Dad and his Mom were divorcing. It was the day after my 16th birthday. Alex was 6. Doobird sat in the back, silent. I spoke.
"I love you Alex."
"We didn't get ketchup."
"Ladeeleroy, will I still get to see you and Doobird?"
"Doobird and I will throw a freaking fit if they don't let us near you."
Doobird pipes up, "That's freaking right."
"Can we listen to the Beatles?"
"Yeah we can Alex. Which one?"
"The one about a Yellow Submarine."
Or at least that's how my brain remembers it.
For the most part, we always did see Alex. We would spend Mondays and Tuesdays with our Dad, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays, we'd go to our respected Maternal households.
But, about a year later, Alex's Mom decided she was moving to New Jersey. She was taking Alex with her.
And I was livid. I was livid and so incredibly sad. How dare she? Not only does she leave my father, but she's taking my brother away, too? I only had two years left in high school and then would be going to college... she was taking away the only amount of time I had left with him until I was forced into the pre-adult world. I cried. I cried and I cried. I spent every possible moment I could with him and Doobird. We took photos in photobooths. Went to movies together. Did anything we could as a sibling clan to make up for the time we knew we were going to loose because of the move.
And when he did leave, a part of me grew up. It was a loss not having him around. Thank God I had Doobird, because my Dad didn't really let us know how he was feeling.
But life goes on. And a love between siblings is capable of stretching through phone wires, internet cables, and dreams.
I went to college. I began to grow into an adult. Making adult decisions.
Meanwhile, the adults in my life were making some decisions as well. The first step-mother got married to a man in New Jersey. They decided to go back to Shreveport.
Alex came home. Two years too late. But he was still home.
And it was in that time that I realized that my brother and sister are the most important people to me. I love them and cherish them so very much. I love my parents, too... but as time goes by, it's just going to be the three of us.
But right now, things are fantastic. It's amazing how much Alex and I are alike. It's like he's living the 14 year-old life I lived. He listens to Weird Al, The Beatles, and Space Ghost CDs. He kicks ass in school. He's a member of the Honor's Jazz band, playing a saxaphone that's as big as him. He IMs me at work and makes fun of the fact that I have a job. We exchange stories about the best way to get out of school for a sick day. I feel like a role model.
"Don't ever fake an ankle sprain. It's just too hard to follow up with an ankle sprain."
"Duh, Ladeeleroy. You'd have to limp for like three weeks."
"If you're going to fake an illness, Strep Throat is always the one to choose. Just be sure to wince when you swallow."
"And you have to talk in a raspy voice too. Or else they'll know."
"Sigh. My little brother is growing up."
He graduates the 8th grade next month. The 8th freaking grade. It just amazes me because I find myself realizing that, holy shit, time is passing and I got to grab onto the chunks that really matter and love them for all they're worth.
Because, sooner or later, it might be all that you have. And you'll be 50. And Doobird will be 47. And Alex will be 40. And we'll have families and reunions and those moments from childhood will be shared in a nostalgic, brief moment, with neices and nephews clinging at our legs or opening our beers for us.
Right now, I want more than anything to give him a hug. God. I really miss him.