“Are you close to your brother?”
I was asked this question a number of times during my late teens and then after my brother moved out. My knee-jerk response was, “Yes”, and then I’d sometimes murmur, “I mean, I guess…” The truth was, I didn’t know. It FELT like we were close. I mean, we spent every day of my first sixteen years together, being homeschooled kindergarten through graduation. The thought that we weren’t close sounded ludicrous. But each time I was asked, a niggling little voice said, “Are you?”
I know now that we are not, and have never been, close. It seems so clear now, looking back. Close would be sharing thoughts and feelings. Close would be telling secrets you don’t tell your parents. Close would be talking to him like I talk to my guy friends. Close would be anything but a shallow, “Hi, how are you? Good.” relationship. But I’ve finally come to realize that is, indeed, just what we have. All that we have. All my life I had a false sense of closeness because I love my brother, and I was in close proximity to him constantly.
But we were not close, we never shared or opened up. He knows less about me than even new acquaintances do, and while he sometimes drunkenly opens up to me, I know that it is not me he wants to open up to – just someone. Because if I don’t answer, he calls our sperm donor, or anyone else, and will tell them whatever it was he was going to tell me.
One of the books I have on grieving a child says that siblings are a very important witness to our lives…a validation of our childhood and growing experiences. But it seems I have no witness, and I have no validation. I am alone.