Laughing In Grief
There are a few epic stories of fights by brother Andrew and I had. One of the best was our foot-smelling contest. Yes, it's just like it sounds. Here's how it played out...
I was probably about 10 and Andrew was about five (we were 5-1/2 years apart.) We were in the car driving from our hometown of Bay City, Michigan to our new home in Fort Wayne, Indiana. This was the late 1980s so there were no handheld game systems yet or iPods. Walkmans weren't even a thing yet. It was a dire, desperate time where kids looked out of the window, read books, or fought with each other. I was bored (I was usually the instigator) and came up with a new game.
"Hey Andrew, wanna play a game?" -Me
"Sure! What game?" -Andrew
"Okay, we're going to smell each other's feet and whoever can smell the others foot the longest wins. You can go first."
The front seat went quiet when my parents realized what was happening. Yet, they continued to let us carry on...they are very wise.
I pulled off my sock and shoe and shoved my foot in my brother's face. After about a minute or two, he said,
"Ugh. I. can't. Take. Any. More! You're turn!"
I took one whiff of his foot and said,
"Yeah! Take that! Hey! Wait...what did I win?!"
Nothing. He won nothing. There were no prizes. I had just bested my brother.
This story is part of our family legend now. I call it out because it's important to remember all things in our grief and sibling loss.
Sibling life is fraught with drama. I have two girls and I see it now. I wrote a blog on Medium.com about the first time my daughter Georgia, said, "I wish I didn't have a sister." It's normal for siblings to say things like that. We can get lost in the "I wish.." but that will literally do no good in your past story. You can only make changes for the future and guide our future generations.
On the flip side, sibling life can also be full of laughter. I hope you have that in your life or had that in your life. Andrew and I could fight in ways my two daughters haven't shown me yet (thank God!) but we could also laugh.
Since Andrew was 7 when he died, I do have the "I wish" in adulthood. I wish my brother could be an uncle to my daughters. I wish I could ask him questions about how he would handle situations. I wish he was here to have my back and help me stand up for myself when I feel too weak. I wish he was just here.
But... he's not. So, instead of getting stuck in the "I wish"s, I am going to remember the time he fell asleep eating ice cream and his nose went right down in his cone.