My Baby Brother’s Birthday

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I’m not quite sure how it began or who started it. It was a Saturday in winter, and neither of us had anything to do. I sat in my bedroom. Across the hall, my brother sat in his. Blind to what the other was doing, and behind our closed doors, we did what ten or eleven-year-old boys do: he probably marched plastic soldiers over his rust-colored carpet while I likely watered a plant on my windowsill and waited for it to grow. Though we often played together, on this particular Saturday we were doing our own thing. Somehow, though, in the way that only brothers realize, we were keenly aware of the other going about his business – and when one of us opened his door, he found a gift from his brother.

As I said, I don’t know who started it, but soon it was a bit of a game, and a rare bit of unabashed affection. I opened my door to find a wrapped piece of candy that he left. Out of the blue, and without reason or explanation. I rummaged through my room and found a toy, tip-toed across the hall and placed it outside his door. A few minutes later his hand crept out to retrieve it. Inside my room, I smiled and beamed, and felt one of the most pure feelings of love I’d ever experience. It was the love of giving, as much as the love one brother felt for another.

A little while later, I opened my door and there was another gift. The game went on for a few more rounds, as we scrounged for presents and tried to surprise the other without being heard. It’s a simple memory, but one of my favorites. I’m not sure my brother recalls it – I’ll have to ask him. It always reminds me that, when left to our own devices, we always fared rather well.

Today is his birthday, so I’m sending out this virtual wish for a happy day – and a happy memory that, up until this moment, only my brother and I shared.

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