He was my first playmate. My childhood “lifesize doll.” When I played bride, he was my bridesmaid. When I put on swirly skirts and twirled in the living room, he did too. Whatever I did, he wanted to do, too. I hated him for it, but that’s what little brothers do. He made me laugh and grossed me out at the same time. Naturally. He was Peter. My little brother. The one who put ketchup on his applesauce, and liked touching worms, and thought burps and farts were cool.
I remember summers at the beach, and how much fun we had playing in the waves. Pete was fearless toward the ocean, which I admired. He was also a little… “in his own little world” in the crowds. I lived in a state of constant panic those summers, because he didn’t keep up with the grown-ups, and I was terrified that he’d get lost in the swarming hoards of sunscreen-slathered beach-goers. He was four, and I was a very mature seven, so of course he was my responsibility, and I took that self-imposed role very seriously. One time he ran helter skelter into the waves, and nearly drowned. He didn’t know that a sandbar had created a 3-ft deep dip right at the waves edge, and he couldn’t swim. I pulled him out, and a woman nearby, who came to help right as I got him out, looked at me and said, “You may have just saved his life. Good job.” That was twenty years ago, but I still remember it vividly, and the whole thing still makes me sick to my stomach.
I can’t imagine life without Peter.
It’s a strange thing, growing up. It’s even more strange to watch younger siblings grow up. I think the strangest thing of all is to be the “wise older sister,” and watch my little brothers turn into men. Roles change, relationships change. Little brothers need some guidance, but men need respect, and sometimes it’s sticky to make that transition. The process didn’t go so well for Pete and me. We had a few years where we were friends, only because we were in different States. Then we both moved back home to start our respective businesses (about the same time, I might add), and our relationship took a bad, bad turn. We were both grown-ups, both opinionated, and I don’t think we had a conversation without an argument.
Eventually we learned to listen to each other, and to respect each other. We learned how to say “you were right and I was wrong,” how to say, “I’m sorry, will you forgive me,” how to be quiet, and how to speak in a way that makes the other person listen. Peter has taught me more about interpersonal communication, about honoring and respecting men, about Biblical manhood and womanhood, and about forgiveness than any other person or any formal training could ever teach.
Today? He’s my best friend.
He makes me laugh harder than anyone else. He can also hurt me more easily and more deeply than anyone else, but when that happens, and when we talk through it, we always work it through to the point of healing, and somehow it’s just okay. Peter gets me, like no one else on earth gets me. I can tell him anything in the world (and I tell him most everything), and he understands. He’s the one who listens to me talk for hours about guys and relationships and singleness, and who shares all of his heart stuff with me, too. Because he wants to listen, and wants me to know, and I want that for him, too.
I’ve seen him go from annoying, gross little brother, to struggling boy-man, to godly mature man-man. He’s the kind of guy who can shoot and kill a black bear with one arrow, but loves Jane Austen movies. He’s stronger than an ox, but he’s not afraid to use the words “cute” and “pretty.” He owns a business, works 70-hour weeks doing manual labor, but still takes time to invest in people. He loves God’s Word, he loves the Church, he’s actively growing in his faith, and he regularly challenges me to think in a more Christlike manner. He’s maybe the most loyal person I know, and the best kind of friend to have.
Sure, he can still make me madder than a hornet, still annoys the dickens out of me, and still does really, really stupid things at times. But he’s my best friend, and I love him, and I think the world of him.
And his dog is pretty awesome, too.