Sibling Reflections

I am the oldest of three and mother to three. I watch my garden girlies and the bright boy, how they interact with each other, treat each other, feel about each other, through the prism of my relationships with my brothers. I'm sure most of you who have siblings and are parents do the same thing. I think, all things considered, that my children's relationships with each other are strong, warm, and affectionate. Yes, they know what sets the other two off, and yes, they usually run with it when the chance presents. And I watch and smile. They razz each other in perfectly normal sibling ways.

My brothers and I were rough and tumble kids. We fought, often physically, and got into trouble whenever we got caught. My brother Kurt was something else as a child. Boy, he'd have had some labels, for sure, had they had them. I'm surprised he didn't since some of the labels were around. He was trouble as a kid. Biggest smile, incredible charm, and complete trouble. He was the same into adulthood, as well, until drug abuse culminated in a stroke a little over four years ago and left him a changed person. The smile is still there on occassion, but the charm is mostly gone. The vanity and handsomeness has been lost in the nearly hundred pounds he's gained since shortly before the stroke. The keen intelligence and the certitude of that intelligence have been dampened.

The brother I had before the drugs took their toll and slowly stripped him away was lost all but completely the day of his stroke. Yes, he survived, but the things that made him a wonder to behold, the shiny bits, those were taken away and we were left with someone who was significantly diminished. Yes, there were positives; the drug abuse stopped; he's on medications to manage the underlying mental disorder that plagued him. He's home all day everyday and he's safe.

Until this week, when he began to feel ill, complaining of intestinal distress. My brother, easier as he is now to deal with, is still not an easy person to deal with. He's a gaping maw of wants and needs, a perpetual baby bird with his mouth continually open and cawing for more, more, more. He's got a fairly lousy diet despite my mom's best efforts, and he was inconsistent in letting anyone know of how bad he was hurting when this started Tuesday.

 Did I mention he's not the easiest to deal with? He bitches a lot. It's a lot like my bright boy, who at the time of his stroke at the age of nine, had spent the previous six months complaining of headaches whenever he didn't want to do something. I dismissed the initial complaint the day of my son's stroke, because like Peter calling wolf, I'd heard it time and again. We perhaps did the same sort of thing with Kurt.

Last night, he went over to my parents and complained more specifically and my mom took him to the emergency room, where they found an abscess in his colon. He was admitted, and this morning when I talked to my mom after taking my A & P test, she let me know about his admission. I spent the rest of the morning with Mom and Kurt. He kept demanding a drink, even though he was NPO (nothing by mouth). He even snuck some tea while Mom was out of the room, admitting it to us before he was wheeled into surgery several hours later.

Did I mention he's difficult, needy, and pushy? And yet, he is my baby brother and I love him. Even though, as I sat with him earlier today and watched him in the hospital bed demanding ice chips or something to drink, a  pepsi even, and thought to myself, you know he really looks like Jabba the Hut laying there. Still I love him.

He was rushed into surgery late this afternoon once the surgeon finally saw him and saw his CT and read it as perforated instead of just an abscess.  Less than two hours later, my brother was out of surgery, minus some of his colon and with a colostomy. An hour or so after that, he was in his room, demanding again. Ice chips. Glasses. The remote control. Pain meds. And still looking like Jabba. And me still loving him completely and forever.

Because he's my little brother. And that's what siblings do. They love each other completely and forever, even as they razz each other, even as they think uncharitable thoughts. They love each other. And they're there when it matters. Both Kyle and I are there for him when it matters. And even when it doesn't. Because, well, there's a little ping of satisfaction in raising a bottle of water to one's lips and taking a nice, lip-smacking, thirst-quenching drink of it while giving your baby brother who keeps asking imperiously for a drink a shit-eating grin. I admit it. And he'd have done the same. And once upon a time, his grin would have been even bigger. And the smacking would have been a whole lot louder. And I'm pretty sure I'd have smacked him. And then we'd have gotten into trouble. :-)

May you get well soon, little brother.

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