Quick. Tell me a moment that was important to you.
Such moments should be on the tip of your tongue. No matter how long ago they happened, you remember. You remember because of a spark, a tug or because of a dream.
You remember because you laughed so hard you thought your ribs would crack, as your forehead once did when you were barely four and required stitches. Or you remember because of the happiness you felt that swelled gloriously inside you.
I have an imaginary box filled with such moments of my life. And the first one I pull from the box is of me and my older brother.
We are three years apart, he and I, and our birthdays are three days apart, too. His comes first and then mine.
In this moment, we are playing astronaut in our brownstone in Queens, laying on a worn-out loveseat in the basement with our backs where our fannies should be. Our legs hang over the back of the seat, dangling over the precipice into infinity. With an imaginary black sky over us, we see clusters of stars in the specks of the ceiling.
“There’s Orion,” I shout. “I see Andromeda,” he replies.
We keep going and conjuring imagery of outer space. It is an incredible adventure we share. Too wonderful for words and I wish it can always be this way.
There’s a moment where we are running up the street, panting as we race up a hill and he is ahead of me. We fly like the wind, as the Keds’ commercial would say. My white sneakers carry me forward like a gazelle, I imagine. Glancing down, I see a glint of sunlight flicker at me. It is a coin.
“Money,” I yell.
We stop in our tracks. Turning the coin over in his palm, my brother says it’s a quarter.
My eyes widen. A whole quarter!
We then run to the candy store. I get a Hershey’s chocolate almond bar. He gets a Chunky and we still have a nickel leftover. I slip it in my pocket and we devour the candy on the way home.
In another moment, we are playing house with our cousins. I am the big sister and he is the baby. My older cousin is the mom. We turn a card table upside down, hang a blanket over it and crawl inside. This is how we play house. My brother makes for a good baby.
We have many moments of going to the movie theater. We see “Help,” starring the Beatles, but the older girls in the theater scream the entire time, and we barely hear the dialogue or the songs. I come home with a headache.
Another time we walk down Main Street by ourselves to see Jerry Lewis in “The Nutty Professor.” We laugh so hard we fall out of our seats. My sides ached but I love this moment. Jerry Lewis was our favorite comedian then.
So many moments with my brother. They pass, they fall away. They scatter to parts unknown. Many long forgotten. Others stay with me always, like the time he taught me how to ride a bike. Too many moments to count. I cannot share them all.
We are older now and my brother faces the biggest challenge of his life. I am scared. For him and for me. I’m not ready. I want to hold on to him and play astronaut forever. I want to run up the street with him like we once did and lick the last bit of chocolate from the candy wrappers. I want to dream of reaching for the sky and holding the stars in our hands. Two children–two little astronauts with nothing but the universe before us.
But these are different times now. My brother needs to muster his strength and I’m so far away. Those days of wonderment are behind us, anyway.
I look to the night sky and see the Milky Way as we once imagined. Which one of us made up the astronaut game, I wonder? I gather my moments and slip them back in their box. Weathered from the years, I tuck them away in my heart.
I’m not ready, I say again. But who listens to the words of an old woman? I hold onto these moments with all my strength, for they are pieces of me and pieces of my brother. Moments that I don’t want to forget.
Be safe, I say. Be safe.
*****I want to hold on to him and play astronaut forever. ***
You just tore my heart apart.
Sending LOVE, Hugs, and Appreciation for your powerful, heartbreaking, stunning, memorable words.
……And for your dear brother. xxxx
Aw, you’re a sweetheart. Thank you so much. Your words of encouragement and love mean so much to me. I’ll be seeing my brother soon and I can’t wait! He saw me through my darkest days of divorce, and now I get to spend some time with him now.
Beautiful, Monica! Thank you for sharing. I have been reviewing many memories of all types with my mom while caring for her in home hospice for 3 months until her recent passing on the eve of July 29, 2017. It’s currently a bit challenging to think of many of them beyond her last moments. We enjoyed nearly all the political comedians on TV together every night. She was smiling and asking me to remember the good times and also to be comforted by the fact that she’d try her best to get rid of Trump and his cronies — or at least Scaramucci from the astral plane. I gave her a wink and a nod when “The Mooch” resigned the next day. Thank you again for sharing your inspired writings and sending big hugs and love to you and your brother.
Nice to hear from you, Sue. I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. She’s right. Cherish the good memories, the moments you enjoyed watching all the political comedians. I’m going to miss The Mooch. He was quite a character. I thank your mom for “dealing” with him, though. 😉
This post tugged at my heart strings! Thank you Lord, for the good memories, dear to our hearts. Thank you Monica, for sharing. Sending prayers on your brother’s behalf.
Thank you so much for your heartfelt words and prayers, Mary. Means a lot to me. Having the support and kindness of my blogger friends is something I treasure.
I have been summoned here by Monica via email. So who am I a mere male to argue!!
Lovely post Monica as always.
Memories are something that we can carry with us everywhere. I am an only child, actually my mother once said that I was ten minutes of pleasure and a lifetime of hard work! So I don’t have memories of activities with siblings. I tended to be a loner when I was a child, and even now I often prefer my own company to that of others.
There are certain things we always will remember through life and although many of them are insignificant (Try that word without a spell checker) at the time they always seem to have a place in our memories.
Maybe in midlifetales.com I will do a post on my memories over the years, we shall see.
At the moment I have started scanning my late mothers photographs and they are bring back memories by the bucket full. Even bought a new scanner for the job, has some fancy software that will remove blemishes from scanned images, once I can work out how the darn things work. The temptation to just press the auto key is very great.
I will stop waffling on now or my comment will be longer than Monica blog post and that would never do!
Thanks for stopping by, Robert. My posts are not the same without your humorous commentary. You know I lost both my parents years ago. it’s been more than two decades. Yet facing mortality of my own generation somehow takes new meaning. It’s a wake up call, of sorts.
Could that stem I wonder from the fact that as we get older we think we have less to look forward to so we spend more time looking back?
Somebody once asked me if I would change any part of my life, my answer was no because if I did I may not be where I am now, and I am pretty happy with where I am now. I could be in a worse place.
A bit deep for a Saturday evening!!
Love your box full of memories, Monica. Funny how important siblings are in our formative years, even if as we age we drift apart.
Sounds as if your brother needs our prayers now. Please assure him he has them. By the way, maybe he needs you to dust off that memory box and share its contents with him?!
Debbie, thank you for your prayers. We are hopeful and I’m looking forward to heading to his home soon for a visit. Just a few more weeks!
Oh, Monica. I am smiling and cheering as I read the beginning of your post but the tears are falling at the end. I am sending you hugs from the other side of the world, my blogging friend.
Thank you so much, Judith. These are bittersweet times, causing me to reflect on the innocence of our youth and beginning to accept that it doesn’t last forever. Sigh.
Thanks for making me teary eyed! This is really so touching and heartfelt. Sending positive thoughts to your brother. We’ll keep thinking good thoughts and be thankful he has such a great family to support him. That and Health insurance!!!! Many things to be grateful for. 🙂
The health insurance helps, though we’re waiting for them to approve the medication. Groan. Must everything take so long???
A huge tug at my tear ducts. Sending all kinds of aloha.
Thank you, Karen. Are you in Hawaii? I heard there are changes in your life right now. Good for you! I wish you all the best, lots of cheer, and an abundance of alohas. 🙂
No, but I lived in Hawaii for 14 years so the idea of Aloha became ingrained in me and still is. I will be here until the 25th and in san diego for about six more months.
No memory to share, instead love and prayers for your brother and you. In my thoughts dear lady, always. Biggest hug ever.
Thanks so much, Sher! I’m feeling the love and it is a great comfort right now. Sending you hugs, too, my dear friend.