A fitting title for my currently Children's Literature-filled life. "The Three...." always seems to work as a title (You know, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, The Three Little pigs, etc....). I probably do say "Once upon a time...." at least five times a day.
"Once upon a time, there was a little girl with three big brothers.....
....There were very few places that she felt happier, safer, or more loved than when she was surrounded by these three big brothers.
I think that first picture clearly shows that my four-year-old-self is thinking..."Wow. I'm really lucky. Just look, I have three big brothers holding me."
So many pieces of who I am and what I value have been acquired through years of watching and listening to them. They have, in ways that I'm sure I don't even recognize, shaped me...my understanding of family, of love, of friendship, trust, parenthood, faith. In unique ways, they each continue to challenge and sharpen my understanding of who I am, how I perceive and think about the world, and how I know and love my Creator.
Different seasons of my life have particular memories of times spent with each one of them.
Even though Andy moved out of our house when I was in second grade, I always felt that we had a lot in common. I think he must have been a pretty generous high-schooler to make me think that we had so many 'shared interests'. He came home from college and took me on dates. He asked about my friends and listened, he challenged me to dream and to think beyond my small, comfortable world. And he still does. He is one of those people that, though he is intimidatingly brilliant, accomplished, creative...his presence and his conversation never make you feel less valid or articulate. Somehow his loving way of listening and affirming makes you feel smarter and better, energized and inspired. I really miss you, Andy. The long stretches between summer visits and winter holidays are too long.
Some of the only times in my life that I've felt physically strong, athletic, fast, were the hours I spent practicing basketball in our driveway, learning to dribble and shoot with David, or attempting to copy his jump-rope routine to become a higher jumper. I fondly remember sitting in his classroom as a high-schooler, feeling proud, happy, and actually challenged to think (too often a rarity in high school); and in more recent years...I smile when I think about running back and forth between our houses to borrow a vaccuum, an egg, a spare key, a lawn mower, dinner, to share cookies, to use a shower, to return a run-away dog, to ask a question. He always seems to be close when I'm locked out of my house, my car won't start, or I've run out of gas. David has rescued me a lot. Only, it was way easier when we were neighbors. I do miss Forest Hills.
Daniel and I were siblings together (at home) the longest. Since he could drive and I couldn't, we spent a lot of time in the car together. Back and forth to church, school, home. We talked a lot, and listened to a lot of music. Once on our way to church, we witnessed an accident together. An awful, nauseating, unforgettable car-hitting-a-little-girl-with-her-bike accident. She was okay. But we weren't for a while.
When we were littler, we spent hours together at the cabin. Mostly because I wouldn't stop following him around as he built forts in the woods. I was 'in his army.'
I guess, maybe I still am. Probably not. He's threatened to fire me about a thousand times. Being in his army was really cool because.... I got to hold nails for him, and go get water for him, and hand him tools, and listen to him talk about how great his next idea was going to be...
No, really.... it WAS really cool. Because I got to be with him. And I always got to be part of his 'next great idea.'
One Christmas break, when I was in college, I stayed with him on the way home from school. We decided to go play our instruments in the mall to earn some cash. It turned out to be illegal. Regardless of the fact that our music delighted countless children, parents, grandparents, made people smile, sing, laugh, and cry; some insecure and self-important Mall Security guy came and felt it was his duty to escort us out. Even though we were leaving, he wanted to 'write us up' or something. Since I didn't have an i.d. on me, he told us he'd have to take me 'in.' Daniel just laughed as he said "um, you're not going to take my little sister anywhere" and told me to get in the car. We ended up playing outside a little bookstore (with permission) on the UofM campus. It was really cold. And unforgettably fun. Lucrative too, if I remember correctly.
Then, several years later, we became really really good friends again. As adults. And we turned out to be even more alike than we ever knew before. He gave Ryan and I a bunch of new friends when we moved back to MI, who are now some of our best friends. He invited us to be part of a church that revived my love of The Church.
In recent years, some of the most decadent time I've had with him have been hours spent in a cedar lined, warm studio making music together, drinking too much coffee, eating apple slices and whole wheat english muffins with natural peanut butter, and solving all the problems of the world. (I almost bought a cello this weekend, brother. I really do want to record again soon.)
And today, he's old. We share our birthday month. (September might be the best month, I'm beginning to think.) And I am grateful beyond words (though I have seemingly been able to be rather verbose) to have him as my big brother.
I love you.