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Saturday, May 1, 2010

A letter to my brother

Dear Brother,

The day you were born was exactly two months before my ninth birthday. For almost nine whole years, I had been an only child. A spoiled only child who didn’t know any other way. And then there were two.

They brought you home; you had a new room with new things. You got gifts. You got visitors. You got a lot of attention.

As a baby and toddler, Mom always called you her “special guy”. I hated it. I told her it was because it sounded corny, but the truth was that I was jealous. Wasn’t I special? What made you so much more special?  I didn’t get it.

I don’t remember much of your early years. I remember you went through a spell of having nightmares and a lot of things scared you. I remember a music video that I had taped and watched that used to really scare you. Mom and Dad made me tape over it, but there was one small part that didn’t get recorded over and I secretly laughed when you saw it and ran away crying. I was mean. You were a sweet, sweet little boy and I was a mean, mean big sister.

When you reached school-age, I was a teenager and I couldn’t be bothered with you. You were just a little kid. Mom and Dad used to make me babysit you while they went to visit friends. I didn’t like to play. I didn’t like to do much of anything that was kid-related. As a rebellious teen, I invited friends over and we would sneak alcohol from the cabinet after you went to bed (did I even tuck you in? I can’t remember). I will never forget the night when my best friend drank too much and passed out in the bathroom. It was right beside your bedroom door. I had to call Mom to tell her what we had done because I was afraid that she might need to go to the hospital. I was crying, panicked. And you… you were sitting there, all alone in your bed wondering what was going on but too scared to find out. Curled up and afraid, you sat there. Alone. I only realized that you were even awake just a couple of years ago when Mom told me. It haunts me. And I feel so terribly guilty about it. I’m so sorry.

When I was in grade 12, I made the stupid decision to move out with my then-boyfriend. Mom was sad but she didn’t want to forbid it, worried that it would push me further away. You wanted my room, and reluctantly she let you have it. Less than a year later I moved back. And I got my room back. You had to return to your old, smaller room and I’m sure you weren’t impressed, but you didn’t complain. You told Mom that you didn’t mind because it meant that I would be coming back home. I thought that was really sweet.

As we both got older we started to get along better. I was rarely home though… either at work, out with friends or my new boyfriend (future Hubby). You didn’t have a lot of friends. You were shy, and the neighbourhood we lived in didn’t have many kids. I wonder if you were lonely. I was never around to find out.

I do remember when you were in grade three you got a Nintendo and we actually started to share time together, laughing and playing. Although Mortal Kombat might not have been the best thing for children, it is the first time I actually remember playing and enjoying something with you and it was wonderful.

But soon you moved away. Dad got a job in another province, and I made the decision to stay behind. I didn’t want to leave my friends or my new relationship. You were 10 and I was 19. You moved four hours away from me, and suddenly you became the only child. I only visited once or twice a year. Mom came back for visits, but rarely with you or Dad. I wasn’t in your life after that. I was barely in your life before that.

You started in a new school and, at the young age of ten, you realized that you needed to change in order to make new friends. You came out of your shell, never afraid to be yourself and you enjoyed being different and unique. You made many friends and joined sports teams. You were independent, confident and outgoing. You still are.

More years went by. I moved to a city even farther away with my newly-formed family and we saw each other even less. Last year, Mom and Dad decided to move here, too. And this time, it was you who chose to stay behind. You are now an independent young man, with plenty of friends, a girlfriend, your band, school and work. You have gone back to school, training for something you are obviously enjoying, getting excellent grades, and pondering going even farther in your studies. You have stayed loyal to your band and even recently released your own CD. You have been a wonderful son to our parents... never giving them the trouble that I did, but always having to walk in my shadow and be judged based on my mistakes.

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for not being there as a big sister, as a good role model, as a friend.

I'm proud of you. For getting by on your own, for being true to yourself, for being such a wonderful uncle to my kids - they are crazy about you.

I miss you. I miss your smile and your big, hearty laugh, your confident stride, your sarcasm. :-)

I wasn't there for you in the way I should have been, but it doesn't mean that I didn't always love you. I did. I still do. You are my little brother. You always will be. I hope you forgive me for everything I did (or didn't do). I hope we can connect more often. Please know that I am here for you. You can always count on me and can talk to me about anything. I won't let you down. Not anymore.

Take care, Little Brother.



  1. That was so touching. I have a younger brother too and we rarely talk. Maybe it's time to give him a call.

  2. Thanks, Vicky. I wasn't there for my brother the way I should have been, but I figure it's never too late to try! A phone call sounds like a good idea... I'm sure your brother will appreciate it, too.

  3. Great post Shannon. Very honest! I hope it felt good to write it. I think though that what you and your brother went through as siblings is fairly normal given the age gap, and without question it would have been hard for you to adjust to him. Your life changed so much when he came and at a time when you were already changing dramatically. Jay and his brothers aren't close because there is a significant gap as well. They just lived different lives.

    I have a very difficult relationship with my younger sister too, for different reasons, but I have much of the same guilt. I bet you he looks up to you in his own way. I was shocked when I learned that my sister did.

    And you are right, it's never too late :-) A lesson I could learn myself.

  4. Christine,
    Yes, it felt really good to write it... so much so that I almost chickened out to actually post it! :-)

    You're right... I have a feeling that my brother would laugh at me for this, but I really wish I would have been more involved. My son is 7 years older than his sister and they are pretty close. I just wish I would have made more of an effort.

    Thanks for your comment!

  5. This was a great post and i hope your brother reads it! I wrote a very similar but very different post not to, but ABOUT my brother. It took a lot of guts for me to write it and after a day, I actually took it down because I DID chicken out. But then I went a step further and actually called him. I TOLD him how I was sad about our relationship (he's older than me) and ended up having a great, yet teary conversation... I'm not sure if things are better now but at least they are off my chest and in his head! Your brother deserves to read this though!

  6. Becca, I know you are right, and I do want him to read it. But now I'm really scared because it sounds like you were the one with a older sibling who wasn't present and it obviously hurt you.
    It will definitely be difficult to get the nerve up to tell him. I haven't even told my mother about my blog yet! Baby steps... I promise I'll do it, though! Thanks!

  7. You have been too hard on yourself Shan, let Skoto read it and you will see I'm right.

  8. Thanks, mama. You're probably right, but as you know I've always felt guilty about it. We'll see... I might soon get brave enough to show him.