My brother signed my twenty-seventh birthday card, “You old. Love, Jon.” And in all our pictures together since childhood, while my arm is wrapped enthusiastically around him, he looks away with theatrical disdain.
Yet people used to ask my mom, “What do you do to make your kids get along so well?” Because we had all the same friends as kids. We played out in the park or on the swing-set in our backyard: elaborate games where we were detectives solving crimes, analyzing finger prints and evidence. We put on plays in our basement, had a seasonal game where we were elves in Santa’s workshop. Once, on a three day road trip from Ontario to Florida, we spent almost an hour going through the first Harry Potter movie, line by line, trying to get the precise intonation. (Our poor parents.) And when the technology allowed our plays became movies— writing scripts, casting friends in our attempts at comedy.
On his first day of high school, a peer of mine stopped me in the hallway to ask, “Do you have a brother? Because I saw this kid in 9th grade who has your face.” We are alike in more ways than one. My brother knows what to say to cheer me up, understands how my mind works… that we both need quiet introspection in the morning and that we both feel bad if someone as much as looks at us the wrong way.
And he supports my creative endeavours by always making sure I follow through, by complimenting me (even if I’m not around to hear it). When he comes to hang out with my group of friends, I feel proud of his humour and intelligence. Perhaps our pictures together are just another running bit between us: a proud sister wrapping her abashed brother in a tight embrace. Because, at the end of the day, he is a friend, a confidant, a person I trust more than anyone, and I know he feels the same. But now that we’re older, now that we’ve lost people we love, we know what it means to leave words unsaid. So when a phone call ends or when I hug him goodbye, he always says, “Love you too, Sister.”