As the oldest brother of 3 I always felt a responsibility to look after my younger brothers. Of course at some point younger brothers grow out the need for their oldest brother’s protective cover (such as it ever was). With my brother Theo that moment came the pretty much the first day we were at the same school. Since he was 4 years younger than me, we were never at the same school until I was 15 and he was 11 and had just started at our high school.
The school was split between two sites and during break I was strolling back up to top site with a group of friends – we were joking about what we’d do if anyone started bullying Theo (and given that he was bigger, stronger, and quicker than me, even at that age, it didn’t seem like much of a possibility or that I would likely be able to do anything about it which is probably why we were joking). As we went through the gates into the large playground, one of my friends said ‘Hey, your brother’s in a fight!’ – this was the first time I’d seen him at school. I turned to see Theo holding some other kid in a head lock, and he was wrapping his knuckles across the kids head with a great big smile across his face. I turned to my friends and said ‘Hey, that’s my brother and you better not start bullying me!’ – it was at that point that I realised Theo no longer needed my protection (and though I didn’t realise it at the time, it wouldn’t be long before I’d start relying on him).
Aside: I did ask Theo, when I got home, who was the unfortunate recipient of his headlock. He told me it was a friend and they were just playing – his explanation satisfied me at the time and I honestly don’t remember who it was. I hope it’s just an temporary blip in our culture, but we were lucky that we could do stupid things like get into (play) fights without the worry that knives (or other weapons) would get involved.
Aside 2: I must have rewritten this post a million times in the last few weeks. Not that I care what any else thinks but I wouldn’t want Theo to think I’m stupid or overly sentimental (things he used to tease me about loads when we were kids). Mentally I just always think he’s just died like a few weeks to a month ago – not because I want to wallow in grief, but rather I think that the more I realise how long it is, the more I miss him, and sort of half expect him to randomly call, or to see him the next time I’m at our parents house. God damn, I miss him.