They parted from the others and began to walk. Before long, the sun was setting and their strides had fallen into a steady rhythm even though their heights and ages differed. Through the last few years, he had become like an adopted brother, and she loved him in the most kindred way.
She knew that this walk was significant and tried to remember all the things she wished to say, convey, and affirm. It had been so difficult for him lately, and youthful days can be so heavy when you are above your years, but without the independence to change circumstance.
She saw its weight in his countenance. She heard it in the tone of his voice and the expression in his eyes when he tried to smile things away. She could relate to the burden of feeling misunderstood and disconnected, and the way it felt to have one's sacrifices taken again and again until sacrificing for others had become an assumed part of your personality. She saw it when he shared his day over the telephone or shrugged with a small smile and telling sigh when asked how things were going.
Yet, she could see all he was striving to be--when he held back for someone else's benefit, when he did something kind even when others did not notice or acknowledge it, when he gave her a meaningful look across the room when he intuitively knew she needed it.
The two shared a heaviness of responsibility. The responsibility of being an older sibling, trying to care for everyone, witnessing the pain of others and hurting for their hurt, trying to be the bigger person even when it should be someone else's turn by now, and noticing the value of things without the ability to evoke the change you want to see--to make.
They walked up and up and up, and she told him what she saw. She affirmed the ways he had chosen to do the right thing again and again and what that demonstrated about his character. She empathized with his frustration and validated how drained he felt when more was asked of him or the times he felt very alone.
They reached the top of a hill and came upon a familiar old covered carriage that had been there since she was a child and he hadn't been born yet. And climbing onto the front seat, she told him how proud she was of all he was and what he chose to be.
He began to cry and she was struck with fear that she had said something wrong--had made something worse.
But then, he let his little golden-orange head fall into her lap, and said in a quiet voice, "I love you."
In memory of my little brother
June 6, 1991 - February 22, 2015
Whose sensitivity, thoughtfulness, silliness, and sweet nature will brighten my days always.
19 & 20/52 :: Little Stories of the People
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© Kimberly K. Taylor-Pestell 2017