My brother made it as far as the end of the street. He sat on the corner, duffel bag beside him and cried. Dad, of course, watching closely out the front porch.
I don't know what was said. Dad walked outside and brought brother home. I sat and cried. I was angry. Sad. Confused. Mad.
Both of them were stubborn, both of them pushed the other, and I couldn't handle the thought of potentially losing my brother, my confidant, my protector. And the fact that the man who could look at me sternly and make me cave like a ton of bricks, could actually apply the tough love he'd only threaten with, was overwhelming.
That day changed me.
It changed brother.
In completely different ways. Brother built a stronger wall, but maybe I did too. It was just that I started to see hurt behind the strong eyes of my father and I wanted more than anything to never be the cause of it.
I left out an important element that happened a year prior to this. Baby brother was born. Oh, how I had prayed so often for a sister! More than anything in the world, I wanted a sister. I prayed and prayed for her to come.
God gave me baby brother, and I was okay with it. But it didn't stop the prayers for my sister. ;)
The days, though at times tumultuous, were generally full of love. I see that now so well. We were not wealthy by any means. We struggled - had the lights turned off on us for late bills, and were excused from the private school for a few weeks because payments were passed due. It wasn't always easy, but the Christmases with oranges and bananas as stocking-stuffers, favorite candy bars wrapped and placed under the tree... Coloring books and crayons... A board game to play together....
Those were simple. Simply beautiful. Full of that kind of love where a mom and dad know they have not a lot to offer but try to make the simplest kind of day special. I now know how much work goes into a day like that.
We played and played with each other and our new baby brother. Probably a little too much. When baby brother was only a year and a half, big brother snapped his little leg in a wrestling match. His infantile cast which mom keeps in a drawer still brings back fun memories of how big brother got baby brother to shush and stop crying - in order to cover his transgression - and it actually worked! Baby brother fell asleep, but when he woke up screaming, mom realized there was a problem and rushed him to the hospital. Little leg intact and covered in a tiny cast that we all decorated with loving marks was a bold reminder that the plan didn't work as well as we thought. Smiles while looking back... not as much fun as you're living through them, moment by moment I'm sure.
And so it was that dad finished his school days. His college was finally complete and we were faced with another move. I wasn't given a vote in the decision, but I surely thought I deserved one. Just as I had been miffed at the thought of moving from my home as a four-year-old, I was miffed at the thought when a ten-year-old. Thankfully, my acting out tactics had changed some. So, there we were. 1985 and the decision was made to move. Back to my beloved St. Louis. Though it wasn't my choice at the time, I am so thankful now that it happened.
Oh, and that wasn't all. There was an announcement made along with it. Not only were we moving this summer... Mom was pregnant.