I was less than 4 years old in this picture. I’m the short one.
I looked up to my big brother back then. It was just the two of us at that time. As much as I try, I can’t remember what it was like. I can remember what it must have been like. I must have tried getting his attention. I must have asked my parents why he didn’t talk. I must have tried talking to him. I know it was frustrating to Mom and Dad. I tried doing my best not to add to any problems.
When we were a little older, Mom and Dad took all three of us kids camping. Dad took an 8mm movie of us playing ring-around-the-rosie. When it was time to ‘all fall down’, I jumped on Mike to get him to fall down. He was laughing. You can see it in the movie. I think Mike liked it when I gave him attention like that.
I can construct a pretty good edit of tender moments, captured instants of meaningful glances, signs of connections among my family members. With that as a backdrop, how could I not appreciate those times?
I can construct an equally good (and truthful) edit of sorrowful glances, isolation, and fruitless striving for connection among family members. With that as a backdrop, I think, “Why couldn’t I have done more?” I do know that at the time, all that could be done was done.
It is as if my recollections go in and out of focus, sharply remembering an affectionate hug for a moment before it fades to a memory of hand biting and head slapping. I can’t tell you how they balanced in real life.
This is (part of) Mike and me, many years later. He is still as elusive as ever.