Author
Rosemary Donahue
April 22, 2016 1:39 pm

My brother William and I weren’t always the closest. Or rather, I wasn’t always the best sister. We’re four years apart, and when I was young, I used to use those years as an excuse to pull rank. I’d always choose the biggest cookie for dessert, I’d use my longer legs to my full advantage when we ran for the remote after dinner, and I’d always, always sit in the front seat. We had our tiny sibling arguments, sure, but I like to call them “sitcom arguments” — that is, they wrapped up quickly, or at least within the span of a 30-minute episode.

In our younger days, I would exclude him from things a lot. When I’d venture across the street after doing homework to hang out with my best friend, I’d often make up excuses about why he couldn’t come, and I’d turn my head as he pouted. I’d also close my bedroom door when I had friends over, even though he often just wanted to be part of the group. This, obviously, wasn’t very nice of me.

We got closer over the years, however. We discovered a similar sense of humor, and developed something akin to our own language, complete with gestures and eye rolls (this language evolves still today, and now includes emoijs). Our favorite thing to do was stay up as late as we could on weekends, watching the terrible movies of the early 2000s until we were so delirious and giddy with laughter that we fell asleep on the couch, then we’d follow it up with early morning cartoons and our dad’s famous crispy-edge pancakes. Those were some of my favorite nights ever, and we still continued them into his late teens and my early 20s.

In high school I started to get into music, and I showed him everything I knew. I’d spend hours downloading music from Napster and Limewire (I know, I know) and burning stacks of CDs with William watching over my shoulder, waiting eagerly for me to give him a song list to write down. We’d beg our parents to let us play our favorite mixes on long car rides, rather than the oldies stations they preferred (though, to be fair, we love the oldies stations too — you can’t not, with our parents). We went to some local shows together, and our love for similar music was solidified. So many bands and songs still remind me of that time, and of my brother in general, like anything by Rilo Kiley or Death Cab for Cutie, or The Format’s Interventions + Lullabies.

I didn’t know how much sharing my music meant to him until recently when he came to visit me in New York from California, where we grew up. He told me that when I shared music with him it made him feel like I thought he was cool and like I cared about him, which meant a lot to me, in return. Toward the end of my high school career, our parents sent me away to a live-in program for troubled teenagers. They were worried about my behavior, and I wasn’t allowed to see William for the first six months, per the rules of the program. When I came back from the program after 15 months of hard work, we immediately picked up where we left off, and in fact became closer than ever — something I was immensely grateful for.

While I was gone, I had been worried that he’d resent me for my behavior, or for the fact that during much of high school I’d been depressed and withdrawn, made poor decisions, and treated my family badly. But he forgave me, and loved me anyway. I was also grateful that he had learned from my mistakes, rather than followed in my footsteps. Because we were both older when I came back, we were able to talk about a whole breadth of things with a maturity we hadn’t been able to before — everything from relationships, to family, to what we both wanted for our future.

That was 10 years ago, and since then, he’s become my best friend. He texts me every single day, whether it’s a long conversation or one single “miss you, sis” text. We often send each other Snapchats of our pets (he has a cat named Niyama, and I have two dogs named Lily and Milo), and we talk about food a LOT. We also talk about our relationships, Netflix shows, and what we want to do when we see each other next. Usually, it’s just spend time together walking around, being goofy, and eating a lot of pizza.

I’m so lucky and grateful to have a best friend who is truly (and, duh, literally) my family — he is there for me no matter what, and has seen me through everything I’ve been through.

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