October 17, 2013

he ain’t heavy.

brothersYesterday a lovely writer I know shared the news that her brother had passed away suddenly. I remember her talking about him and how their relationship grew from him being a brother from another father . She’s a person thats had a fair degree of life trauma thrown at her and it reminded me of a line a mum told me last month when explaining her resilience…really just how much can a bear bare?

My son was born just after dinner on a Wednesday night. Our obstetrician – who rushed in for the last 7 minutes of my labour – suggested to my husband and I on his arrival that we were in the space in between his birth and the rest of the world knowing. That it was Ok to just bask in his newness before sharing that information with everyone who was waiting. I’d had this vision early on in my pregnancy that my girl would push through the doors of the delivery suite and peer through the see through cradle. That BAM their lifelong love and admiration would begin from that very moment. The story of my own sister arriving at the hospital, with little bells on her slippers, scurrying down the corridor eager to meet me had echoed in my ears for the 33 years prior.

I wanted to reproduce that memory.

It was late into the night before I had finally settled into the room on the ward – having the three girls come to meet their brother suddenly didn’t seem as simple and calm as Id pictured it. My girl was with my mum and our other girls were with their mum. The idea of orchestrating a blended family meet up after a long day of labour and tears meant that I actually chose to settle down for the the night with my two men – my husband and my boy – ready for the before school visit the next day. Ready to just remain in that little cave post birth for a few moments longer.

My girl wandered in the next morning – her wild curls standing upright. Her disney princess jumper over the top of her stripy tights and her little mouth pursed in a way that only she can do when she is unsure whats happening next. She stood over him pulling at his tiny toes, looking up at me almost to check whether or not I looked any different and she cuddled him quietly and then asked for a snack. In the weeks after she genuinely told people that she forgot what his name was, she would sit with him for short periods and would perch on the edge of my lap as I fed him. Keen to ensure that my lap and my heart still belonged to her.

He on the other hand was instantly besotted, his eyes would follow her around the room. he would laugh and clap as she performed greatest hits from high school musical and would take whatever snippet of attention she offered him. She was his big sister.

That was three years ago now. On the three days a week where my boy hangs with me he asks me from 11am onwards if its time to collect his sister from school, he looks out the window waiting to see other parents walk up the laneway beside our house so that he knows when its time to leave. As her class files out into the balcony heading towards the playground he darts between the other kids legs to launch himself at her. When she cuddles him she cradles his head – like a mum would do to her babies.

She remembers his name now. She tells him everyday that he is the best brother she ever had and any ideas from me about the ties that bind, in this complicated mess of blended family, vanish for they are closer than any brother and sister I know.

I love them.

Thinking of Eden today and the pain that comes with the bonds that connect us when they are severed.

Whats your sibling story?


Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. I’ll forever have imprinted on my memory the faces of my boys as they their baby brothers. For my middle fella, he was a little special, we weren’t sure what would happen when he met our little guy. But that moment he connected was beautiful. Boom, instant love. With our eldest, we reserved the honour of him hearing his littlest brothers name for the first time so he could tell the rest of the family. So while in hospital with our newest baby snug between us, we rang home and soberly asked the grandfather if we could speak to our boy. Then we announced the news that his brother had arrived and his name. He has always had his brothers back since then. Beautiful post Sarah. Kia kaha Eden.

  2. Our kids are 6.5 years apart and whilst I’d love to say that our daugther is always the caring big sister, that isn’t always the case. Our son looks up to her, but is also fond of saying ‘not my friend’ to her (usually when she is not being a caring big sister). I’m actually surprised how much they fight, but believe that to be a symptom of love (with a bit of annoying frustration thrown in). The other really surprising thing is that being adopted, our kids still look so much alike (or at least our son as a baby/toddler looked very much like our daugther at the same age). The photo identification software actually queried if they were the same person. I can only say they are meant to be the sister and brother they have become, just as we were meant to be their ‘Forever’ parents.

    • Wow – you know the more my girl hangs with my husband the more she starts to take on his mannerisms. His words. His irritating way of unpacking the dishwasher. Its like on some level they all know who they are connected too ever when the birth certificates say something different. ‘Forever parents’ – beautiful x

  3. I don’t remember any of my siblings being born. The first four came before me, the youngest by six years older and the last came when I was only 18 months old. ALL I can remember of my childhood is siblings. Siblings, siblings everywhere. Add a friend each during summer holidays (we had a pool) and it was just KIDS ahoy.
    Now though the family is grown with families of their own and sadly we’re distanced somewhat. Still super close to my baby sister though and I’d be well and truly devastated if we were to be at odds.

    • See I only had a sister and we were only 2 1/2 years apart so we spent a lot of time hanging out (we would have loved a pool!) When I got the chance to interview Sam and Connie from love your sister this year I listened back to the recording as I was writing the article and thats the big message that stood out -the sense of loss that comes with just a hint of an idea that one would have to exist without the other x

  4. Beautiful Sarah…. Made me cry 😉

    My fave photo of my three is the older two hovering over a 1 day old Zara… That photo says so much about their personalities, their unconditional love for each other and the closeness that I hope never disappears…

  5. I said to a mum the other day that some days I wish I could fast forward 15 years to see how they all turned out. Id love to know how their relationship changes and double check that they’re still being lovely to each other. That pic of your babies sounds divine x

  6. Beautiful post Sar

    My heart is breaking for Eden right now – I know the pain of losing a little brother so losing one to suicide is beyond the processing capability of my brain.

  7. Reading this post gave me goosebumps, especially as I have no siblings.
    I’m always telling my four how lucky they are to have each other, but am yet to convince them.
    Hopefully, in time…

  8. I love your story about your daughters reaction to your sons birth, trepidation followed by a gradual love, and the instant adoration of your son. I remember when I brought Henry home, my youngest, we lived in a double story house and Henry’s bedroom was upstairs next to ours. Ava my daughter, used to panic when I’d go upstairs to feed him and put him to sleep, I think she thought I was going to disappear forever with Henry up to the heavens. And like your daughter she used to squish her little body somehow onto my lap when I was feeding him, just so she too could feel that closeness. But she adored Henry right from the start. As soon as he would squawk or make a sound she would rush to his side, trying to comfort him in some way. I was amazed at her maturity and comfortable ness around babies. Being the youngest of three I was never around babies much and when I had my first I remember being wracked with anxiety about how I would look after this little alien creature. My daughter just so naturally and completely adored her baby brother, had absolutely no shred of jealousy, as well as still wanting lots of cuddles from her mummy as well I feel that he is so lucky having such an adoring older sister and I hope that will always be the case..


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