There is a story in our family that must have some truth to it because it is retold by several family members and it never changes (which for our family is almost unheard of):
When my brother was born, he had to spend a few extra days at the hospital because he was born with a clubfoot. When my mother left to go get Corey and bring him home, she told me that she was leaving to get me something she knew I really wanted. It is said that the look of excitement that shown on my 16 month old face could not have been mistaken for anything else other then sheer delight.
When my mother returned later with a bundle of “something I really wanted”, I came running to the door. “Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!” I shouted as I stopped before my mother and the bundle. My mother leaned down to show me what was wiggling inside that blanket. I peered inside anxiously awaiting my first glimpse of the puppy I had so longed for. There, peering back at me or perhaps at nothing at all was a pink furless Corey. “Puppy?” I asked timidly. “No, no puppy. This is your new little brother, Corey.” This announcement prompted me to shriek out loud as I took off running for my bed where I spent time crying over the disappointment of not getting a puppy – the one thing I had really wanted.
How funny children are. My little heart had been set on “something that I had really wanted” which surely everyone had to have known was a puppy. How could I have known that at age 37 I would be sitting here thinking about how very lucky I am to have a little brother?
Corey and I have never enjoyed a “typical” relationship. Growing up, we seemed to both exist in a state of hell that only we could see and understand since no one seemed that keen to step in and rescue us. But no matter how bad things were, the one thing that Corey and I knew deep down was that it was us against the world. We were a team even if there were times when we had no idea how to function as a team.
Eventually, Corey and I grew up and moved away from that environment and into situations where we had more control. Sometimes we made bad choices and sometimes we chose wisely. The one thing that was always constant was that I was his big sister, he was my little brother, and we loved each other no matter what choices the other made.
Now, as we both crossed over that mid-30s marker, have settled down in our married lives, become parents and grown into adulthood, it’s amazing how close we are. What is also amazing is to have had the opportunity to go along for the ride, watching Corey grow into the man he’s become, and to share in the vision of the man he wants to be. Over the years I have watched as my brother went from scared child to rebellious teenager; from know-it-all young adult to maturing, productive man, loving husband, caring father. It has been a truly amazing transformation, and I am privileged to be a part of his life and growth as a person.
The little brother that I once saw as a pink, furless “puppy” has grown into a self assured man who questions life, seeks out answers, strives for improvement, shows compassion to those around him even though it was something he, himself, was rarely shown while growing up. I have come to know and admire Corey for his willingness to change the things he can change, and his constant struggle to let go of the things which he has no control over in the first place. I continue to be in awe of his talents. Even though Corey has lots of “excuses” he could use to write off certain behavior, he is chosen to take responsibility for his own actions. I have seen him turn into a loving husband and a wonderful uncle. Most importantly, I have seen my brother go from being my great disappointment to my kid brother to being my dear friend and loving brother.
I am proud of Corey. I am proud of who he is and of who he’s striving to become. He is my brother – the something I may not have thought I really wanted, but the one thing I’d never give up now.