You never quite appreciate the simplicity of childhood until you are grown — until the carefree days spent with ice cream on your face or a baseball in hand are long gone, nothing but mere memories of days so far long ago.
I think about that quite a bit, not just because I am (of course) getting older, as we all are, but also because in this knowing, it makes me appreciate even more just how wonderful my childhood was. I grew up with a brother three years older than me, and from the moment we first ‘met’ as brother and sister, we were instantaneous friends. It helps, too, that we have parents who had instilled in us then that our sibling was our lives’ first best friends, the best friends we were given at birth.
We quickly became the most fun of playmates, the most competitive of athletes, the most comical of duos. Whether we were in school or enjoying the summers off, we’d host batting practice in our yard, produce plays in our living room, and imagine a pirate ship in place of the bunk beds in my brother’s room. No one could make me laugh like my brother — still, no one has even come close.
We ate together, watched TV together, and even made sure those bunk beds had nightly tenants (the top bunk always belonged to yours truly).
In the summer, my mom entertained us in the morning with breakfast, then an “adventure,” which was her term for picking a place to take us for the first part of the day where we could explore together, just the three of us while my dad worked. The second half of the day was filled with splashing in the pool, passing a ball in the water, eating popsicles on the deck. It was bliss.
Family vacations to Disney were in order each year, and the splashing, passing, and snacking continued, just in a different location. But no matter where we were — home or away — or what we did, we were always having fun and enjoying each other’s company, each other’s friendship
I can almost feel the questions coming: “Didn’t you guys ever fight? Get on each other’s nerves?” Of course we disagreed, of course we annoyed each other, of course we weren’t always roses and sunshine. We were children, after all, and it’s only natural for that to happen. But, what we didn’t do was hold grudges or let any bad (or hurt) feelings linger. Why? Another thing we learned from our parents was how to genuinely apologize, how to recognize sarcasm, how not to take things too seriously or too personally. And, to be honest, after a few minutes of being upset with each other, we also missed the company that the other added — we missed our playmate, and that was much more important.
That fellow playmate, competitor, swimmer, snacker, comedian, and best friend has grown up and turned 28 years old. It’s odd to think that soon, we will occupy different spaces once he moves out into the house he recently purchased with his fiancé and gets married. It’s odd to think that this is coming quickly. It’s odd to think he is old enough to do those things, to be an adult and start a whole different journey.
Of course, I am so happy for him and proud him, not just for what his life is, but for who he is. Of course, I will miss our childhood days and all that was carefree about them. Of course, I will wish we could go right back to those days and skip the ‘adulting’ part.
But, I know that he and I have more memories yet to make, more adventures left to undertake, more laughs yet to share. I know good things are on the way. I know there is so much more to enjoy together. And I am so grateful to be the sister of such a wonderful man, able to be with him for it all.
So what matters today is a wonderful childhood filled with the best of memories. What matters are exceptional parents, who blessed me not only with an incredible brother, but gave me the common sense to realize what kind of person he is and how he should be treated. What matters is a sibling who is more than just a sibling, but is a best friend for your childhood and for your adulthood.
What matters most today is a brother who I look forward to calling my best friend for my entire life — just like our parents taught us all those years ago.