big brothersHe’s been a large presence in my life since I was five.  He’d swing me around by the ears, hold my hands and let me walk up his legs until I could flip over myself.  He teased me about the boy who lived around the block.  He let me hug him, cry into him, sass him, and then we’d start all over again.  I never wanted him to go.  OT is my brother, and we met when I was five.

I was born into a loving family that would eventually become mid-sized by the time I was five and a half with four biological kids.  OT was my first, but hardly the last, “philialogical” sibling.  I believe there is a logic to every kind of love, and this is no different.  I love my blood born siblings because there is a bio logic – they are part of me because of shared genetics.  I love my “adopted” siblings (which have since expanded the kid count to 13, yours truly included) because there is a philia (unnatural love) logic – they are part of me because I love them so differently, so unnaturally for a non-biological connection.  Through T, his family joined ours, and I have a unique connection with each one of them.  His parents are Grandma and Grandpa B to me, while his sister is just “my Renee.”

OT actually joined the family through love logic before my baby brother was born.  We taught ‘T’ to change a diaper – a regular stink bomb.  It was one of the funniest moments of my life.  When Grandma and Grandpa B went out of country for eighteen months T got the truck, and to this day I love white trucks with an extra large cab.  T was at softball games, he rescued me from a fall of that wonderful truck, he rescued me from heat exhaustion, he was a large presence in my life (and not just because of his size).

Then, several years later, T got married.  I love my sister-in-law.  Julie’s about the coolest thing ever.  And she gives the greatest hugs.  It’s because of her that I like cabbage!  I still have my wedding day dress (I sang at the ceremony).  But they moved.  T finished school, got stationed all over the US, but never near home.  He got out of the Force, went to Hawaii and then to Shanghai, where tomorrow he and Julie will have their seventh child after being married for eleven years.  This summer or next they come home.

I have not seen OT in the intervening eleven years but once or twice.  Most of those years were spent overseas, and the years they were on the same continent, 2,000 miles away was pretty common for his assignment.  I get emails and pictures.  I have a beautiful family, and about the cutest nieces and nephews ever.  Tonight, we had a rare talk.  I am still his “Becca,” a name no-one has called me in years.  I miss him, his back-sass, his teasing, his dominating presence that faded so dramatically when I was ten.  Mostly I miss my bothersome brother, who may or may not come back from China when this business contract is up.

Some days are hard.  Others, it’s easy to forget I even have a brother, sister-in-law of awesomeness, and (soon to be!) seven nieces and nephews that I know by name and story, but have never met.  But most days, I carry them in my heart – loving them unnaturally as if it was the most natural thing in the world.  Because with them is love.