They say that the relationship you have with your sibling(s) is like no other. They say it’s special, unconditional and… love/hate. And I agree, having a sibling is the best (and sometimes worst) fate in the world.
As it happens, my earliest memory is of my brother. I’ll take you back:
Hi, I’m 3-year-old Laura. It’s Sunday morning and we’re at the dump. My dad’s brought us here, and we’re, me and Matt that is, sitting in the back of the car whilst Dad’s gone to get rid of the grass cuttings. He’s told us that we’ve got to stay inside the car, and he’ll be back soon; I guess that means I’m in charge because I’m the oldest…
OH MY GOD MATT HAS JUST BEEN SICK AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO AND HE’S ONLY A BABY AND I’M IN CHARGE AND WHAT IF HE CHOKES AND NO ONE IS HERE BUT I CAN’T LEAVE THE CAR!
I know, I’ll open the door, stand just outside the car and shout ‘Daaaaaaaaad!’ really loud so that he might hear me and come back and it’ll fix everything and I won’t be in trouble and everything will be ok and Matt won’t die.
I don’t remember what happened after that. I assume my dad did come back eventually, and Matt’s still here so it was probably just babies being babies and throwing up milk all over themselves. Anyway, I feel like this occasion, as traumatic as it clearly was, represented the beginning of our relationship – at least our relationship as it is today. We look after each other in a way that no one else really does or really has. Losing our dad in 1999 was probably one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a family and, although too young to remember most of it, it was fundamental in shaping our relationship. Left with just the 3 of us, Matt, my mum and I, I wanted to be the one that looked after him. I wanted to read him stories and play games with him and explain all the worldly discoveries you make by the grand old age of 5 to him. My great grandad used to say that Matt was lucky, because he’d ended up with 2 mums. One bought the house, paid the bills, clothed him, fed him and did all the ‘actual’ mum stuff; the other told him what things he liked to eat in restaurants, made him run errands around the house under the premise that they’d ‘time him’ and has spent the last 14 years doing his homework.
There have been ups and downs. Aged 6, Matt hit me with a stegosaurus at bath time; it chipped my humerus and I forever have ‘attacked by dinosaur’ on my medical records. As a bitchy 8-year-old, I turned round to Matt and said “I’m older than you, I’m cleverer than you, and I’m prettier than you” – and, much to Matt’s dismay, gained disproportionate support from my grandad. Aged 19 he still regularly hides in my wardrobe and jumps out at me, causing me to nearly wee myself/go into cardiac arrest. The ups far outweigh the downs. We’ve never been the sort of siblings that argued, or competed with each other. We have totally different interests but we share the same values, sense of humour and taste in biscuits. I keep his secrets, pick his condom wrappers up off the floor before my mum sees them, and always let him watch what he wants on TV. He leaves me notes with an accompanying snack and drink when I’m out late, gives me lifts, and looks after me when I’m ill/stressed/generally panicking.
As Matt’s got older, I see the tables turning. I’ve gone from looking after him to us looking out for each other. I still proofread his essays, but he now helps me with grad scheme numerical tests as well. You know when you go to uni and you really miss your pet, I miss my brother. Now he’s at uni too, we’re spending the least amount of time together that we ever have and it sucks. But I know he’s never far away, and that he’ll always be there when I need him – as I will for him.
Thank you for keeping me sane in our mad house and in this mad world.
Thank you for looking after me and being my oldest best friend.
Written by Laura Warner
Student and Blogger