Monday, January 7, 2008

Oh Brother

It was a matter of time before it happened and deep down, I know it probably wasn't personal. That didn't make me embrace the usurper of my throne any more. His arrival turned my world upside-down and it hasn't stopped turning since.

Until 1977, I was a carefree little princess at the center of my family's universe. Uncles bribed my mom to play with me, aunts proudly showed me off to their friends and grandparents would monopolize my time as their God given right. I was the benevolent and adored little dictator of our universe.

Life was good.

But then my parents placed us all in exile--in a cold land far, far from my happy kingdom. On that cold, March morning in the strange state of Iowa he came to our world and we have never been the same.

Had he been healthy, perfect and happy, he would have been tough competition. But he was none of those things. He came to this world, barely breathing and hanging on to life to pacify my mother. I was lost and ignored in the shuffle, left to adjust to a cold, distracted world. I was powerless in the face of his illness. I could neither lift the darkness that had entered our world, nor could I charm my way back into anyone's attention span. After all, it is hard to compete for attention against a child who is only sent home to die.

And so, I did the only thing a disgruntled princess in my position would do: I made myself invisible and harbored a distrust of people that hasn't quite gone away.

The fact of the matter is, he was mostly innocent--and I soon forgave him his near death tendencies. I even appreciated his humor and forgiveness in those moments I accidentally pushed him closer to his demise. I could not forgive him for his gunpowder personality, his disruptive habits and his sheer joy in provoking me. Half the times, he didn't even put any thought into provoking me, and those were the worst offenses.

Thirty years later, he is the same. He beat Death in a staring match and gained a cult following in the process. His nurses still look me up and call me, telling me of his antics in the hospital. His teachers groan at his irrepressible personality, even when he set his school on fire. Multiple times. And he still provokes me, without an effort. I want to share his joys and lift his sorrows, but I cannot. At best I can caution him and not rain on his parade. I fear that despite our differences (and similarities) I still have not forgiven the boy who cast me out of my kingdom.

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