Love, Family

3 Hopes ALL Older Siblings Have For Their Younger Siblings

Photo: Image: Serge Bielanko Private

When I carve up the whole sibling thing and zoom in on what it means to have one ... well, I've been lucky. My younger brother, Dave, has pretty much always been by my side, for better or for worse.

I don't mean that in a figurative way; I mean Dave has literally spent most of his 41 years on Earth just a few feet from me, physically, emotionally, soulfully. 

Girls can leave you, dads can abandon you, bosses can fire your ass, and friends can get tired of you, but the sibling-hood runs deeper than all that — at least it always has for me and Dave. Don't get me wrong; it hasn't always been roses. Our closeness and our familiarity has bred military strength contempt at times through the years.

We've punched each other in the face. We've sworn each other off forever. We've walked off in separate directions vowing never to look back again, vowing never to speak each other's name again. And yet, we've failed at failing our blood and our bond.  

I'd give him a kidney if he needed it. I'd carve it out of myself if it needed to be a rush job, no questions asked.

But so far, he hasn't asked for anything like that. So instead, I give him heaping handfuls of my hopes and dreams. (Sounds hokey but it's true.) It's almost impossible to dream up anything without my brother wandering across the dreamscape five minutes in.

And gone are the days when I was too awkward or uncomfortable saying that sh*t out loud. So let's do this. These are my three hopes for my younger brother, and hopes that all older siblings should have for their younger siblings, too.

1. Raw happiness

It isn't easy to wish tried and true happiness for other people in this world. (Mostly because we're all a bunch of selfish bastards and our hearts and minds program over time to aim as much happiness as possible at ourselves.) People lie a lot — even in marriages or long-term relationships.

We pretend we want to make our partner happy but way back in the shadows of our consciousness there's usually a voice whispering, "Why the hell does he/she not give me what I need? What I want?" That's why so many love affairs collapse after a while. We overdose on our own inability to shift the spotlight onto someone else for more than a few fleeting moments at a time.

But with siblings, wishing raw happiness for another is easy. I want him to be happy. I want him to know peace and love. And when I refer to the happiness as "raw," that's huge.

I want him to experience swift-moving moments of illumination, hour-long stretches of genuine joy as he plays with my kids in the warm spring yard, songs he loves appearing out of nowhere on the tiny speakers while he's putting gas in the van, someone handing him the best slice of pizza in his life, someone finding his wallet he forgot on the coffee shop counter.

Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. One after another, small shots of raw happiness, adding up to maybe 75 years of living that he can look back on someday as his lungs give out and his heart explodes in his chest. I want my little brother to smile as he goes down that one last time. I want him to smile as he realizes how all those raw, happy moments got hurled up on the pile over time, and that his life was a motherf*cking beautiful one because of that.

2. Ridiculous dreams

I feel bad for people who have given up dreaming virtually impossible dreams.

We're so connected by blood that when someone so intrinsically intertwined up in our veins and guts and spirit hits the saddest grown-up wall — when they stop dreaming of someday opening a restaurant or writing a song that moves a trillion drunk people in pubs to raise their pints and sing along; or penning the most popular cookbook of all time; or whatever the hell far-out dreams your younger brother dreams  you ought to just hope he keeps on dreaming them.

People often frown upon dreamers. Once someone has turned a realistic corner and shown they're probably not going end up the next Rockefeller or Cobain, way too many of us expect them to simmer down, to siphon the steam off of their dream machines. We expect them to give up the old ways. We need them to "get real," to stop dreaming ridiculous dreams.

F*ck that noise. I hope my little brother never stops hardcore dreaming. It would kill him; it would kill me. Brothers live off of our sibling's visions and wishes. The alternative is awful.

3. An overwhelming amount of respect and love

So much of what I wish for anymore is for Dave because he's my sibling and I love him a lot and I don't have all that much time to go around wishing stuff up for too many other people.

I've got three kids — I wish the stars in the sky for them, obviously. But after that, I'm divorced. I've been around and been knocked down and I've been shut up and shunned and body-slammed by a ton of people over the years, so I've only got a handful of people who I even bother hoping things for.

The world would be so much more badass if we all told our brothers and sisters that we love them so godd*mn much and that we mean it when we say that we'd die for them if they ever needed us to. (But please don't need us to, OK?)

I have such mad respect for you, Dave. Such mad love. And we aren't done with this brother thing yet.

Sometimes it's hard to say the things you really want to say. Sometimes you just have to write them in an article on the internet and wait for certain people to see it. Sometimes you just have to step back and hope that your little brother stumbles into all the things you've been trying to say all along.