My sons were no different than most siblings. While they were often rivals, they were also best friends. But they never knew how close two brothers could be until tragedy struck.
TC, our youngest, was born with a cleft lip and palate. He underwent several surgeries to straighten his lip, close his palate, had tubes in his ears, and so on. The cleft in his lip caused him to swallow a lot of air, and as a result, he regurgitated most of what he’d just taken in. Therefore, he had to be fed smaller amount every two hours.
He needed so much attention from the time he was born, that I got my oldest involved right away, helping me, getting the diapers, wipes and other things so he never felt left out. When TC slept, I spent “quality time” with his older brother. By the time the boys were in school, some of the kids started to call TC names because his upper lip was not straight. Brian was always there defending him. I tried to use the idiom “sticks and stones will hurt my bones but words will never hurt me” but how could I get him to believe it, when I was hurting at the thought of others calling my child names?
When TC was 6, we thought all the surgeries were finally behind us. Wrong! He was attacked by a Malamute Husky and underwent two plastic surgeries. Again, kids teased him and Brian stood up for him.
In the early 1990’s, TC started collecting baseball cards. His favourite player was former Texas Rangers’ pitcher Nolan Ryan. Seeing that, Brian tried to find a player who was better than Ryan as he had to be better than his little brother. At the time, a major sports magazine had dubbed Jose Canseco “A Pitcher’s Worse Nightmare” and that was enough to talk Brian into collecting Canseco’s cards. Both the boys argued that their favourite player was the best.
As years went by, the boys grew up and went their separate ways. The youngest still lives nearby while the other one is 16 hours away. And though they were often rivals, I believe they were always best friends. Until . . .
In 2003, my husband had a massive heart attack. It was TC who saved him (correction, God used my son to save my husband). When Brian came to visit, he gave TC a wooden plaque. One that said he was more than just a brother . . . More than just a friend. TC had become a hero in his older brother’s eyes.
I lost my brother in a house fire in 1984, my dad to heart disease in 1986, and my mother to cancer in 2007. All I have left is my sister and her family, and I wish we lived closer. She’s in the prairies, and I’m on the east coast. My husband and I just returned from visiting them out west. I cherish every moment we spent together and look forward to our next visit – which I hope will be soon.
Who is your best friend? Who is your hero?