My wife has a 21 year old son. She had him in her 20’s and very early. He’s an amazing man and we are both very proud of what he is doing in his life as a military man, his family and his direction. She also has a great relationship with his dad – who, by the way, is just about the coolest guy on the planet!
Saffiya, doesn’t see her brother often because he is in the U.S. But she has always known that she had a big brother (15 years difference between them). He saw her a few times when she was little when he would visit us in Qatar and from the day they met, she only had eyes for him. And why not, he’s compassionate, smart, funny, loving and adores his little sister.
When we went back to the U.S. in February after my wife’s brother passed away, the family all came together at my mother in law’s home (kids, ex’s, uncles, aunts, friends). And, of course, Alec was there (and his awesome dad who I will give a shout out to!). Even before the plane ride, and although she had never had the chance to meet her uncle, whom she bears his name as her middle name, her focus was to see her big brother (and wow, that is one long plane ride from Dubai to Seattle and then on – picture 15 hours with a 13 month old and a 5 year old – its not pretty).
From the second she got her hands on him there was no going back. And for more than 48 hours, she wanted nothing more than to be with him. She bonded more than anyone would ever know (and he entertained his little sister endlessly). She joked and teased and hugged and cuddled with him. And, for their mom, her smile during the worst time in her life, was real.
We came back to Dubai and she would go through a few weeks here and there where she wanted her brother. For whatever reason, she just needed her brother. My wife and I always assumed that there would be a great distance between them and perhaps when she went to university, he would be closer and watch over her. We were blessed to have Mackenzie because we knew at that point, they would also have each other. But clearly, there is nothing like an older brother.
Early last week, she informs us that she needs to talk to her brother and we need to message him. We acted on her instructions (of course, otherwise, her wrath knows no bounds). No response. She asked again, we explained there is a time zone difference (goes right over her little curly head) and that he has to work (which she responds “Tell him to tell his boss I need him!” or my favourite “Tell his boss he quits!”). A day goes by and we get a message back saying that he is off Thursday and can talk to her. She was fine with it and refused to tell us what she wanted to talk to him about.
Now, him being in the military and having his own family and busy doing so many things, we thought we should prepare her and continue telling her he’s busy and he might not be able to make it. She said “No, he is my brother and you need to message him again. He will do it”.
She is a blessing but when something gets into her head, it stays and there is nothing we can do about it (no amount of Frozen accessories will solve any dilemma like this!).
The day comes and he’s sent a message saying he can talk. Wife is on a conference call and desperately trying to get off the call because she is walking in and out of the room, “Are you done yet?” “Are you done yet?” out and in “Are you done yet?”.
She finally gets her brother on the phone and says to us “I need to go outside and talk to my brother!”. Well, ok, but please stay close.
She starts the big conversation and we periodically hear squeals and laughing and whatever else she was babbling on about and what he was entertaining her with. She came back in after awhile and handed the phone to her mom and sat on the couch squeezing her hands between her knees with this huge smile on her face. While her mom talked to him, he didn’t tell her anything that Saffiya said. And, when I asked, Saffiya said “Nothing. I just talked to my brother” and sat there grinning.
To now, she hasn’t told either of us what they talked about and he hasn’t told his mom either. Whatever it was, was between them and with 15 years between them, it was important in whatever way it was for that conversation to happen.
I’ve been taught to believe that there are angels around children until they grow up that protect them and guide them in whatever amount of life they have. Sometimes, those angels help point children in the direction they need at that time to help them determine some decision they need to make or something that has bothered them or are thinking about.
For her, whether you believe it or not, perhaps an angel just wanted to guide her to her brother for a chat about everything and nothing. And whether it was 15 years or 5 years, they have a bond – a very distinct bond, that an ocean away cannot take from either of them. And for our two youngest that can look to each other for whatever support they need, makes me very happy. And when I see our youngest looking so lovingly at her older sister and wanting to imitate her every move and be part of her every moment, that is when I believe siblings need each other.
The bond that is there does not go away no matter how far away they are, no matter what good or bad things have happened. There is love that you just can’t get rid of. Love that is instantly binding that even if you want to, you can’t make it go away no matter how much your brother or sister makes you crazy.
I see this with my own family, my wife sees this with her late brother and her sister and we look at this with our girls as well as their older brother.
They only have each other. That’s a pretty amazing thing if you think about it. Someone that is always going to be with you, know every part of our soul, hate you and love you and still want to protect you at all costs.
For our oldest, she needed her brother and I certainly wanted to make sure that she maintains that love and closeness with him – because they will always need each other in whatever capacity it needs to be.