He's my brother. My happy place. Our beamish boy (as in "Come to my arms, my beamish boy! O Frabjous Day! Callooh Callay!")
He's my bookend, 8 years and two sisters between us. Such joy when he came into our lives, this little bundle of love! Our dysfunctional family had some hope; he's our common thread. Our love for him helps weave our knotted snarls together into some semblance of cohesiveness.
Our beamish boy, the light of our lives, didn't quite meet those crucial developmental milestones on the expected timeline. Month after month, he slowly progressed, but the gap grew bigger. Progressive worry grew bigger.
I will never forget the wash of ice-water feeling when our parents explained to us, unequivocally, that he was "developmentally delayed". That he would not ever "catch up". That this changed everything. That it changed nothing.
I will never forget that moment. How hearing those words caused an instantaneous burgeoning of my love for him, love so large already, an explosion that expanded into heart-melting protectiveness and bittersweet joy.
My brother is a-MA-zing. He does so much with, frankly, relatively little. Life is difficult for someone with his cognitive challenges. He keeps going. He keeps learning. He keeps finding new ways to figure things out. And always, always, he keeps loving.
He is almost 40 years old, and we STILL do the "family happy dance" when he reaches another long-fought-for, well-earned developmental milestone.
And when he tells me he loves me, with such tenderness, with that little emotional catch in his voice, it's a gift beyond words. My brother. My happy place.
It is a privilege to be his sister.