As I walked down the stairs of This is It Eatery, my brother skipped. When I strode down the sidewalk, I politely smiled at those who passed, while my brother laughed and merrily greeted them, even if they were strangers. Embarrassed, I clung to his arm and begged him to quiet down. To this, David, still flashing that goofy, monkey grin, wrapped his arm around my shoulder and looked up toward the darkening sky, illuminated by the glowing yellow street lights, that were gently buzzing like a row of fireflies. “You’ve gotta have fun in life,” he said, his voice the most serious it had been all evening. David often said things like this when he took me out. Though I did not register what he meant in that moment, soon, I would adopt that monkey grin and hold my head high, as my big brother did.
See, when I was younger, David lifted me up just like that with every opportunity he got. We, or rather, he, would play The Legend of Zelda, a fantasy game, for hours on end. Too afraid of the green goblins and the suspenseful scores that played when the monsters appeared, I would sit and watch on my black swiveling chair, jolting and clinging to the seat as he calmly defeated dungeons and bosses. Despite my jitters, he would have me look up cheats or walk me through some easy sections, letting me shout, jump, and swipe the air with every battle. When he’d leave to go back to Chicago, I would watch as he left to catch a bus, smiling to myself and thinking about all of the the temples he’d gotten through while making me feel just as part of the process as he was.
On Monday nights when our mother was away at school, he would watch Avatar: The Last Airbender with me, and he would take me to see movies and get ice cream. In the comforts of home, he would even let me take a nap with my head upon his lap; I never failed to drool on his jeans, no matter how much I insisted that I wouldn’t each time. He still won’t let me live that down.
As I grew up through the difficulties of middle school and high school, his support continued to help me stand on my own. For nights, he would listen to me vent, sharing my adolescent thoughts that were too often pent up inside: thoughts about my family, pre-teen drama, friends, and significant others.
He gave me insight in areas that would have otherwise left me puzzled. After I was hit by a car, he guided me through tough conversations about life itself and how I should perceive it. When we vacationed to New York and had trouble sleeping away from home, under the gentle glow of a lamp, he would open his Bible and talk to me about being a good steward of money and responding to those who hurt me. He reminded me that in life, I had to learn how to take wins and losses with a grateful attitude, being humble as a state speaker while showing that same humility during arduous musical auditions. He asked me once if I loved myself, and to my uncertain response, he hugged me and firmly told me that I should.
As I grew from childhood into adolescence, David’s support allowed me to embrace all that I was and all that I aspired to be. Perhaps, I would go on to give that same support to someone else, one day. For now, as he drove me back home from the eatery, I sat in silence and pondered over his words - he purposely let me do so. When he pulled into the driveway of my home, he waited until I was out of the car to roll down his window and obnoxiously shout, “I love you!” This time, I skipped up the stairs, and, without a care in the world, flashed his signature monkey grin and shouted my love just as loud.