As a little girl I used to beg my mom for a big brother. She tried and tried to explain to me that she simply couldn't give birth to a brother who would be older than me. Of course, she was right. But, while my mom couldn't give me a big brother, God could. He brought a wonderful man into our lives, who brought with him not only a big brother, but a little brother, too.
My best friend is grieving a great loss in her life, right now, and her sweet little girl has lost her brother. As I grieve this loss with my dear friend, I can't help but also grieve the loss of my own brother. The big brother I wanted so badly, so many years ago.
As I was driving to the grocery store the other day, it really sunk in that my sweet little boy would never know his uncle. The little boy who loves every person in his family, will never know a member that was so important to us. Tears fell down my face as I pictured the way my big brother would love my son. He would pretend not to, pretend that it was no big deal, the way he used to pretend he didn't like my little fluff ball dog. But, in the same way that he would pick her up and stroke her fur when he thought no one was looking, I know he would open a little spot in his heart for my son and secretly watch him, and take joy in his funny, loving, red haired nephew.
My heart hurts when I think of the incredibly imperfect relationship I had with my big brother. The anger I had toward him and the ways I treated him. Surely, in his life, already full of pain, I added hurt and sadness. But, I remind myself that we grew older, and got along better. I reached out, in my own way, to show him that I cared. To show him that I was glad he was my big brother. I remember that he came to my college graduation (something incredibly uncomfortable for him to do) and he not only came to my wedding, but was in it (something I know he did only because he loved me, and not because he wanted to in any way).
When I think about love and grief, I remember how fleeting life is and how important it is to show love to others. It could be something as simple as letting them know you put leftovers in the fridge for them or sitting on the couch with them watching something you don't care about.
Love is a strange thing. It's not always simple. We don't always show it well. Sometimes we don't show it at all. But here we are, on this earth, commanded to love.
"So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." John 13:34-35 (NLT)