here's a thing...
Like most brothers who are close in age, when we were young Flip and I occasionally punched each other. Okay, frequently. Mostly I suspect I bullied him a bit since I was older. I don’t mean that I was cruel, just that I tried to boss him around*. By the time he was 15 he was bigger than me, but happily for me, by then he had matured beyond the need for petty revenge.
*(When he was 3-4 yrs old and I was 5-6, we played cowboys. For myself, I chose the coolest, baddest name I could think of: “Shoot-Lion”; I made him be the side-kick “Johnny”.)
But anyway, this post is supposed to be about another thing that happened when I was about 8 yrs old, while we were awaiting the arrival of our little sister: I had a nightmare.
I dreamed that in order to make room for a new child in the family, there was a rule that one of the existing children had to die. For whatever reason (because I’m self-absorbed rather than self-sacrificing?), in my dream Flip was the one.
White-coated doctors led my 6-yr-old brother into a room and closed the door. After a while, they came out, carrying buckets containing a heart and lungs and things. That’s horrible enough in itself, but the worst part was the finality of it – it seemed to represent that my little brother was completely, irretrievably gone.
It’s been 35 years since that dream, but I still remember the crushing grief and pain – I was crying when I woke up.
And with waking of course came the realization that it wasn’t real. I was weak with relief and happiness. In a gesture entirely unlike our usual interaction, I padded over to my little brother’s bed and hugged and kissed him while he slept.
After that day, we never fought again. Unless, say, we were in each other’s presence...