Today is my brother's birthday. I wish I could see him and hug him, tell him happy birthday. Unfortunately, I don't know how to contact him. He lives in the same town I do, which isn't that big, unless you WANT to run into someone. My brother chooses to distance himself from the family for some reason. And that makes me sad. I've only seen him twice in the past 15 years. The first time was not long after we moved back here. He walked into the office where I was working--not to see me. As far as I know, he didn't even know we were living here again. The second time I saw him was at our aunt's memorial service. That was over ten years ago.
It hasn't always been like this. Pete is about a year and a half older than me. When I was two and he was 3 1/2, we went to live with aunts (sisters of our mother). Pete lived a couple of houses down from me, but we were together every day because our aunts worked and our grandmother babysat us. From stories I've heard, we were inseparable. When Pete was 5 or 6, the uncle raising him was sent by the Army to Germany. Pete went, too. When they returned after four years, they bought the house next door. Our relationship had changed, of course. He was 9 and not crazy about having a little sister. All I knew was my big brother was back.
After a couple of years, the Army once again moved my uncle. This time to Virginia. When they returned to our little military town, Pete and I were in our early teens. Definitely a new and not so great relationship now. I remember him being pretty mean to me and even hitting me when he got mad. Once we were both in high school, he virtually ignored me. He played football and was popular. I wasn't. It was hard to pass him in the halls and have him walk right past without a word or look.
After graduation, I married and moved away. I had children of my own. When I'd come home to visit, I'd see Pete sometimes. But our relationship was strained. Now here we are all these years later, and we don't talk or see each other. I can't tell you how that feels. To know my brother is only a few miles away and deliberately chooses to stay away. He didn't even contact me when Shana died.
Pete is the only person I feel truly understands my childhood, because he lived it, too. When we were young, I felt like he was the one person in the world I could count on. I knew he loved me when I felt no one else did. Then things changed as we grew up. And here we are as adults. Both still with that lonely child inside. We could so easily help each other--if he only knew. And if I knew where he is.
Happy Birthday, Pete. I love you.