Whenever meeting new people in a social situation, a certain question always gets asked: “Do you have any siblings?” My answer is always “I grew up an only Child.” Smart people will catch that I didn’t actually answer the question, and will ask a follow up question like “What does that mean?”
The reason I answer the way I do is avoidance, so I don’t have to deal with any lag in the conversation. Most people won’t catch that I didn’t answer the actual question, therefore no lag. You see I do have a brother, but he died right after I turned five and he was two and a half. Therefore when I say I grew up an only child, it’s true…I did.
It is simply an easier answer than saying “Yes, but my brother passed away when I was five.” That answer will only lead to surprising the person out of their socks and put them in a position where they don’t really know how to proceed.
I’m not sure why people are so uncomfortable when you don’t sugar coat something like this, but I guess it’s a difficult topic for most because they remember someone close to them who has passed away. This probably makes them sad, and when meeting someone new, you usually like to have your best foot forward; not your saddest foot.
My brother was sick from the time he was born until he passed away, but let me tell you my parents were awesome. I don’t remember ever thinking he was really sick or any resentment towards him because he was so sick. I just remember I liked having a brother. Personally, I feel lucky that I remember him at all. I’ve heard that most kids don’t remember much until they are five, so I am very lucky indeed.
My parents took very good care of my brother, so much so that my mom told me later on when I was an adult that the doctors were surprised at how long he lived. My parents made a lot of trips to the hospital with him during his short two and a half years. They made a lot of sacrifices for him, but he received the best care that could be provided.
I only have a few memories of my brother. Only one involves a hospital and that was the day he passed away. Most of the time while my parents went to the hospital, I went to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house to be spoiled. 🙂
Other memories are silly like getting his leftover baby food jars when mom finished feeding him. I used to stick my little fingers in the jar and get every last scrap of baby food out of it.
But by far, my best and favorite memory of my brother is an example of how much my parents tried to keep things as normal as possible for me. They found a way for me to play with my brother. 🙂
Our house had an L-shaped hallway that started in the living room and ended in a bedroom. It wasn’t a long distance, but when you are under five, it seems like a long way. My mom would sit in the living room and dad in the bedroom. Then Mom would put my brother into a stroller and strap him in. After she double-checked to make sure he was ok, I was off. I would stroll him from one parent to the other. One of them could always see him, and I knew better than to run or be careless with him. I had to stop at each end, so that my parents could ensure that he was ok. Then I would turn around and go the other direction. I have no idea how much time I spent strolling him and I am sure it was probably shorter than I remember.
It may seem like such a small thing to remember and not a fun activity, but I loved it! I felt like I was taking care of him as well and I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for that memory.
Here’s some advice for everyone…When you meet someone that lost a sibling at an early age and they remember their sibling, try saying “I’m sorry that you lost your brother/sister, but I am happy that you got to know them and that you have memories to remember them by.” Hopefully, this will help you get past the lag in conversation that might occur. 🙂
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