My family is comprised of five daughters. We can re-enact the Famous Five, the Spice Girls, and the Bennett sisters with a full cast, although if I were to choose, I'd go with everyone's favourite British pop band; if we're Jane Austen's quintet, I have to be Lydia.
Of us five, I am the youngest. I was borne ten years after the oldest, and entering my toddler years, my parents were decided; five little girls was enough.
I, on the other hand, had different plans.
As part of my early childhood education, my mother was teaching me to pray; her basic instructions included; start with what you are thankful for, then ask for blessings you need. Every night, I would ask my Heavenly Father to bless my baby brother in Heaven.
It was cute at first, but sometime around when I started pouring over baby catalogues and asking if I could have whichever baby I liked for my brother, my parents decided it was time to tell me that I was indeed the baby of the family. I wouldn't have it. I kept praying and shopping for mail order brothers. I don't know how long it took them, but eventually my parents realized I knew something they didn't and shortly thereafter, I got my wish, and my baby brother was born.
I like to remind him of this story whenever he is angry with me.
Nineteen years later, after years of loving each other when we bond over imaginary games and hating each other after being shot with pellet guns, I can truly say that Brother is one of my favourite people. We unite over our mutual lack of spouses, our belief that life would be better if people still carried around swords the way they carry cell phones, and our love of closet novel writing. He calls me Sister, and I call him Brother (because he is my favourite). Last year when I moved to Edmonton, Brother was the person I spent the most hours on the phone with back home in Calgary, we vented our dating stories together, I critiqued his university papers and reminded him to stop using so many commas already, and he told me to stop making excuses and start writing again. Brother is my number one fan and I love him for that.
On June 6, Brother went down to Provo, Utah and entered the Missionary Training Centre. He is going to serve a mission for our church for two years in Denver, Colorado, teaching in Spanish. For the next two years our only contact will be through letters and his half Spanish e-mails. I miss his phone calls and his "Hello Sister" greeting when he sees me and reminds me how very short I am (he's 6'3").
This morning, I was reading the news about the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. As I lamented the loss of so many, I thought of my own brother, and had a completely irrational worry session. Feeling less like a sister and more like the overanxious mother Brother tells me I act like sometimes, I sent him a quick letter telling him not to do anything stupid and be safe. He'll probably roll his eyes when he reads it and tell his companions that he doesn't have five older sisters; he has five extra moms.
That is a fairly accurate description at times, especially since most of my other letters have been nagging him to send me pictures and eat more, but that is one more thing to love about Brother. He tolerates my bizarre worries and doesn't even point out that I never take my own advice (not much anyways).
The last time I saw him before he left, he was loading some things in the car for me before I drove home, and once he finished, he looked at me and said:
"So when I get back, you'll be married and have sent your book to a publisher."
It wasn't a question. It was a statement. The first part didn't surprise me; Brother has been joking for months that since I predicted his birth, he gets to predict when I marry, but the second part of his statement did. I thought about it the whole way home. Brother has always been my number one fan, to the point he's taken my manuscript to show his friends and (after he realized that was not a good plan) asked if he could show it to certain people. He is the biggest optimist I know. He doesn't just hope for the best, he states it like it's an inevitability.
So for what it's worth Brother, I'm really glad I said that prayer.