Oh Brother

I talked to my older brother, Ezekiel, yesterday. It had been about a month since we last talked, which is longer than we usually go. (I may have ignored a couple of his calls on the way . . . but shh).
I like my older brother a lot. I’ve always thought he was cool –even when he was, objectively, maybe not so “cool.” Like the time he got a mullet, when mullets were no longer a thing. But to me he was cool. He was confident in his opinions, and he pretty much defined the words conscience and integrity. Additionally, he was fierce and determined.

My brother has always been a major part of who I am: from when we were three and five and played in the backyard together; to when we were ten and twelve and still similarly sized enough that we could physically fight one another (and did); to when we were thirteen and fifteen, and he stopped talking and I got angry; to when we were seventeen and nineteen, and he hated living at home but didn’t know how to get out, and I hated having him grump around the house and told him so; to when we were nineteen and twenty-one and told each other everything.  To now, when he does a better job of staying in touch than I do. When we call each other on the phone, and always end up laughing. When he comes to visit me, and all my friends think he is cool too.

I remember when I would come home from college on the weekends, and Zeke was still living at home. He would get off work around 10:30pm, and we would stay up talking until 2am. We would wrestle with faith and life. He always had stories from work, and I had stories from campus. He would get choked up about brokenness and hurt in himself and the world. He has always awed me with his heart –and his somehow coinciding flippancy.
My big brother was the first person I told that I was struggling with depression. The first family member I talked to about being an alcoholic.
And he probably made jokes about both those things too.  For my brother Zeke, nothing is off limits from his humor, not death, not addiction, not relationships or strangers.  But every single person he meets, he believes is worth loving deeply.

I still think you’re cool bro.

One comment

  1. Tammy Babad · · Reply

    I just finished reading all your posts. You make me feel and see in new ways every time I read your writing. I think you are a very good writer. I relate to what you say about depression and am curious and intrigued by what you share about recovery. That is not a particular struggle I have had. I relate to the hiding inside myself though. Kevin, I think, is like that, too. But when he drinks, it brings himself out and he gets to be the louder, freer version of himself. Or so it seems to me. It has caused problems for him, though, too.

    I want you to know that I have really and truly become more myself over the years and I am able to be myself in ways I never thought possible when I was your age. I touch people freely at work and friends. I still sometimes look at myself doing that and say, “Wow. That’s me. I really can touch people and give that love freely.” It was impossible for much of my life. And I am sad or bitchy or opinionated at work. Those things also were parts of me firmly locked away. They only came out when I was full to the brim and they exploded out at odd times, but only at home with family.

    I remember the loud, free, bitchy Elly. Sad Elly, I never got to see. But I remember a lot of you that’s hidden away right now, and I am confident you will embrace these parts, love them, and set them free over time. I’m looking forward to it. Take all the time you need. You are beautiful inside and out. I don’t know why loving ourselves is the hardest thing we’ll ever do, but it is.

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