“I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be one of so many, to have not just parents and siblings but cousins and aunts and uncles, an entire tribe to claim as your own. Maybe you would feel lost in the crowd. Or sheltered by it. Whatever the case, one things was for sure: like it or not, you’d never be alone.”-Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key
What would my life be without my siblings? I cannot imagine it nor do I want to even try to imagine my life without my sister and my brother. We’ve been close. We’ve been apart. No matter where they are in this world, I know I’m never truly alone.
I was the only child for a number of years. During the first five years of my life, my parents tried to give me a sibling but with no success. So, they decided to go the adoption route.
I can remember the day we drove six hours downstate to the suburbs of Syracuse to pick up my brother. His foster name was Matthew. He was about six weeks old. We waited in a room that held only a few chairs. I remember an older woman carrying a baby in her arms as she brought Matthew in to meet us for the first time. He never cried. I can remember sitting down in one of those hard chairs as Mom placed this baby in my arms. He looked up to me with these gorgeous blue eyes, and I smiled at him. I was now a big sister.
My parents renamed him after Dad: Eric Charles. But I called him “Ricky” instead. Even though we were almost six years apart, we bonded. He had such an easy-going personality, it was easy to have fun with him. We laughed a lot together sometimes over the silliest things.
Things changed a few years later when Mom got unexpectedly pregnant. Our baby sister was on her way.
She (or Mom) almost didn’t make it though.
Over a month before Jaime was due to be born, Mom developed a complication with the pregnancy: placental abruption. Dad rushed her to the hospital while his parents stayed with Ricky and I at our house. Mom’s blood pressure dropped and she lost conscious while they prepped her for delivery, so they performed an emergency surgery to deliver Jaime. The doctors were then able to stabilize Mom. Jaime, however, developed jaundice and would stay at the hospital for an additional few days. In the end, both would fully recover and come home.
Our family was now complete.
With having siblings, there was usually one who would have the most difficult time adjusting to changes (namely a new body in the family unit). Ricky was that one. Before Jaime came long, he was potty trained and well-adjusted. After she came home though, he regressed back to wearing diapers and began to stutter. He was jealous of his younger sister. They were also a lot closer in age (less than two years apart) so as they both grew older they fought constantly. For the longest time, I either couldn’t understand why they got after each other so much, or I found their bickering and arguments quite amusing.
Jaime was a spunky little thing. Not to mention smart. She knew how to get what she wanted without getting in trouble; that’s what she had Ricky for who constantly found himself in trouble for something he had no involvement with. And when she didn’t get her way, she’d punched him. He though would never hit her back.
However, he found other ways of getting even.
One memory comes to mind.
I was in the living room watching TV with my parents. Ricky and Jaime have been playing outside. Ricky came bounding inside all happy-go-lucky, and started to tell my parents some story which I can no longer remember. After about five minutes or so, he turned to head back outside when he paused to tell them, “Oh, Jaime’s stuck under the wood pile.”
We all rushed outside to the back yard to where Dad had placed stacks and stacks of woods for our fireplace to be burned during the winter. That woodpile stood at least five feet high, and about 10 feet wide. The neighbors from across the street were already there trying to rescue the screaming Jaime (six years old at the time) who was buried under a heap of logs. I heard later that Ricky had dared her to climb the woodpile; as a result her weight shifted the pile and it came down on her.
As the older they grew, the warring declined and they actually became good friends (much to my parents’ relief).
Ricky and I always had a close bond, but those two had an extra special relationship. They still do. I have to admit there were times when I’m the one who felt jealous, but then I reminded myself that my life would be utterly empty without the both of them.
Both would be there for me through some of my darkest times, and I for them.
Life can be so harsh and trying, and to not have family to help you get through these times…I just shudder at the thought.
What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life – to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.