always

by Kristen

“Be good.”

“Always.”

That’s how the conversation ends.

I’m not sure why. It’s ended that way for years, for thousands of conversations. How did it start? Is there a story?

I don’t remember.

But if it doesn’t end that way, if we hang up without it, I feel funny . . . off-kilter. Like I put my pants on right leg first instead of left—it doesn’t make a practical difference, but the shift in the pattern throws me off balance.

Maybe it’s just our way of not saying goodbye, of pretending we aren’t separated by hundreds of miles. Maybe it’s his way of reminding me he’s still my big brother; and it’s my way of saying, “I’ve got this—you taught me well.”

Or maybe it’s how we say, “I love you.”

Whatever it is, it is the beauty of being siblings. Even when the beginnings have been lost to history we’re inextricably bound together, and it is good.

My brothers are my people. My boys. My rocks. They pave the way, and I follow. If they do it, I want to do it, too. It’s always been that way.

But now it’s less about flattening pennies on the railroad tracks and more about being family who choose to be friends.

We tell stories in shorthand. We say a lot in a few words or throw words around in bulk because it’s really about being present in the conversation and not the conversation itself. We show up.

Siblingship—it gets better with age.

They’re mine. And I’m theirs.

Always.

 

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