Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wanted: One Big Brother

Sometimes, I can be such a girl.

Like tonight, for example, I was all hyped up to watch Criminal Minds – this great crime/mystery drama about the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI. This group of FBI agents traverses around the globe solving serial killer crimes by figuring out the killer’s motivation and personality.

Of course, as it is with all Hollywood shows, everyone on the BAU is incredibly good-looking. Thankfully, the writing is excellent and the actors are very good. So all I really have to do is suspend my belief that everyone who works for the federal government is incredibly handsome and or model-gorgeous, and I have a great TV watching experience.

Well, as I was flipping through the channels, I saw that Steve Martin’s Cheaper by the Dozen remake was also on TV tonight. Since it also stars the yummy Tom Welling (of Smallville fame), I thought I would check it out during the Criminal Minds commercial breaks. I mean, I’ve seen the movie before, and (other than Tom) it wasn’t like I was all that impressed.

Well, of course, you know what happened. I ended up watching Criminal Minds during the Cheaper by the Dozen commercial breaks. I got sucked in. What can I say?

I pride myself on not being a chick-flick kind of person – TV or movies, but this one just got to me. I mean, of course there was Tom, who I would pay good money just to see sit in a chair for two hours. Mainly because, as gorgeous as God made him, the guy can’t act his way out of a paper bag. (I saw his remake of The Fog – and it was terrible!)

Anyway, back to the movie. I think I identified with it since my Mom is also one of twelve children. It’s a wonderful family legacy, and one I am deeply grateful for.

As I was watching the movie (and Tom), I got to thinking about family.

I am so fortunate God ordained for me to be an only child. As with all families, there are pros and cons to only childom. I wouldn’t trade my fantastic childhood for anything. Being an only child gave me many, many opportunities I would never have had otherwise.

I had closeness with my mom and dad that many children only dream of. I had educational, growth, and development opportunities I wouldn’t have had– since my parents never had a lot of money. And so much more!

I say this to preface what I am going to say now. There was only one thing I really wanted in the way of family. And by the time I was born, it was already too late.

I wanted a big brother.

My friend, Lindsay, had a big brother – Adam. I was in love with Adam. Not because he was older, taller, and handsome (although he was), but because he was an incredible older brother to Lindsay and her three sisters. He took his job seriously. You’ve never seen a big brother treat his sisters so nice.

I’d be over at Lindsay’s and all of us girls would be playing together, and (as it often happens with bunches of girls) a fight would break out. Then there’d be stomping off, door slamming, doll throwing, and down the hall yelling. Then, Adam would come out of his room (his fortress in the mostly all-girl land where he lived) and go talk to each one of his sisters, until eventually everyone was back in the same room laughing and dog piling on Adam. He’d slip back out to his room, eventually, and I would just stare lovelorn into the hallway wishing I had a valiant older brother.

That’s probably yet another reason why I have problems with men.

Until I met Brett, no man was ever there to defend me. My amazing father was misled, so he wasn’t there to stand for me when Josh tormented me. The boys in my class stood idly by or were active participants in the abuse I suffered. In high school, I was the target of mean boys who enjoyed taunting me. At church, I was (gratefully) mostly ignored by the boys, and only singled out by one or two for occasional humiliation.

So, it’s no wonder I would have appreciated an older brother.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I discovered there were lots of different types of men out there – and some of then were actually good. I hadn’t believed it up until then. And after what I had been through, can you blame me?

I wouldn’t have minded a younger brother, either. But, unfortunately, my little brother, Nathan James, died during my mom’s miscarriage when I was only five years old.

I didn’t even realize Mom had a miscarriage until I was eight. I had a flashback of organizing my books on a bottom shelf so there would be room for the baby’s things. So, in all my eight year old naiveté, I turned to my mom and asked, “Weren’t you going to have a baby?”

Mom was shocked – it had been THREE years, and I’d never said a word - and then broke down. Over the next couple of years, I learned the horrible pain and heart wrenching agony that miscarriage caused my parents. Mom said that if they hadn’t already had me (after being childless for 11 years), she wasn’t sure she could have handled it mentally.

The story of the miscarriage - and its ramifications – are another post altogether. But suffice it to say, there are times when I think of Nathan and wonder what it would have been like to have a brother.

I guess the sad thing for me is that I never found anyone to fill that unique void. My brother-in-laws are hardly brotherly, even though I’m young enough to be their younger, much younger, sister. And for all my cousins, not one ever stepped up into the roll. Not that I blame them – I don’t believe I was all that easy to love and/or imagine as a “little” sister – since I was anything BUT little growing up.

There is one time I remember where I had a “brotherly” experience. Several of the Rehfeldt families had rented a cabin next to a lake up in Wisconsin one summer. My cousin Jason (three years older than me) and I rowed out to the middle of the lake and talked for hours about God and the universe. He was sweet to be so kind to my somewhat cynical twelve year old self. And I’ve always treasured that moment.

I think my big brother void manifested itself in who I chose to marry. I loved Brett for who he was, but I was drawn to the fact that he was a big guy. He could defend me if I was ever in danger. And, to be honest, I’ve only ever seen Brett really lose his cool once and that WAS to defend me on a Chicago street.

So, psychosomatic as it sounds, I guess, I am still looking for my big brother.

At least, I know that, one day, I’ll get to meet my little brother in heaven. And it’ll be nice to say, “Hi, Nathan. I’m your sister.”

I’ve never been anyone’s sister before.

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