I have a brother who happens to be 18 months my junior.
There is an 18 month difference in our ages, grades, experiences, friend groups, and lives.
18 months. That’s it.
An 18 month difference, between myself and my favorite guy.
And those 18 months seem like such a small thing, when writing about them on a blog that I’m not even sure anybody reads.
Or when I’m acting as a youth leader at the youth group he attends.
Or when he and his friends ask me to coach their soccer team.
Or when I think about the fact that I just graduated last year, and he’s going to be graduating next year.
But then there are times when it feels like the biggest difference in the world.
Like when I drive a 90 minute round trip to pick him up from his SAT testing.
Or when my parents are gone for the evening so I make dinner for him.
Or when I think about the fact that he’s never had a job and when I was his age I was working full time at a place I’d been employed by since I was 15.
An 18 month difference.
Sometimes I think about those 18 months.
About what my parents must have been going through at the time they had him.
Because, when my little brother was born I was going through treatment for cancer.
His birthday is his birthday, because my parents had to pick a day that didn’t conflict with my treatment schedule, so they induced him around my schedule.
He was named after one of my doctors.
And he spent a huge part of his younger years following me through hospitals and treatment centers.
And sometimes I feel like he’s been following me ever since.
Because it’s hard to be so close in age and not always be following each other around.
We’ve always been in the same Sunday school classes.
We’ve played on the same soccer teams.
We’ve created imaginary games and worlds together.
We’ve gone to the same High School at the same time.
We’ve had the same friends.
And yet, despite all of the things that we do that are exactly the same, I still feel responsible for him.
I still feel like I’m supposed to be an example for him.
I still feel like I’m supposed to watch over him, and protect him from things I know will harm him.
I still feel like I’m supposed to drive him places, and treat him to a movie, and buy him dinner.
I still feel like I’m supposed to give him life advice, and tell him what to do, and help him with things.
I still feel like I’m supposed to jump in between him and anyone that wants to do him wrong.
And maybe I’m the only one. Maybe that’s not something all older sisters feel, maybe it’s only because we are so close in age that I feel so responsible for him.
Or maybe, these feelings would be worse if I was way older.
Maybe if I was already in my mid-to-late twenties and living on my own I feel even worse because I wouldn’t be around him all the time.
Maybe some of these feelings are less because of my brother and me, and more because my family has gone through so much in the past several years.
Maybe I wouldn’t be so protective over him, if there hadn’t had been so many things to protect him from.
Maybe if I hadn’t gotten so hurt so many times in so many different ways, I wouldn’t care as much if he did.
Maybe, Maybe, Maybe….
I live my life in the perpetual world of Maybes.
Maybes and What ifs and Almosts, are what I spend most of my time thinking about.
From big things to small things.
Maybe I should have slowed down a little bit on that turn.
What if I had saved more of my paycheck?
I guess I almost made it.
I live my life in the perpetual land of these thoughts.
And a lot of those thoughts are about my wonderful younger brother.
Don’t get me wrong, I love him.
And I love that he and I are so close in age, because there’s a lot of good that comes with it.
Like the times when he will sing along to Uptown Funk or Nikki Minaj with me windows down and the radio at full volume, whenever we drive anywhere.
Or the times when I make pop culture references around my parents and he’s the only one that understands.
Or the times, like tonight, when I have to pack for a theme day at a camp and have nothing that fits the theme, so he gives me a shirt to wear.
Or the times when we are hanging out at the county fair with some friends, and he sees somebody look at me creepily, so he comes up and put his arm around my shoulders until the guy walks away (Or when he doesn’t tell me that this is why he put his arms around my shoulders until after we got home, because he knew I’d probably freak out).
So all-in-all, my younger brother being a not-that-much-younger-brother is a bigger blessing than it is anything else.
Being his older sister, by 18 months, greatly enriches my life, and I honestly don’t think I’d have been able to make it through some of the things I’ve gone through without him.
And even if he sometimes gets on my nerves,
Like when he tries to convince me that I need to do half of his chores, because two weeks ago when I was in another state, he did it all by himself.
Or when he tells mom the name of the boy I have a crush on, so my mom starts constantly asking me if the guy’s asked me out yet.
Or when he’s driving my car, and break checks while I’m in the back seat.
Or when he comes into my room and lays on my bed without asking.
The list could continue for eternity, because my younger brother is super annoying.
But he’s a lot of other things too.
He’s a hard-worker.
He’s an upstanding young man of God.
And I couldn’t be more proud to be his 18 months older sister.