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My Brother John

By , Wauwatosa, WI

When I was four, I had my first real memory of my brother Mike.  We were riding in the car for out house on the parkway over to his preschool.  It was just Mike and me in the car with my mom.  As we drove down the bumpy road that was my neighborhood, Mike pointed out the window with his pudgy hands.  There was a house for sale.  A house that would be able to fit my growing family. He turned back to look at me with a grin on his face, claiming that one day, we would live in that house.
When I was seven, I thought that the world was created by my brother Mike.  I had yet to understand all the science that went into creating things.  All I knew was that Mike was nice to me and played with me on the playground, even in front of his group of friends.  I was the cool kid in my grade because I got to hang out with the older kids.  To me, it looked like Mike was in charge.  It was natural to assume he had created the world.


When I was ten, I thought the coolest person was my brother Mike.  He was finally in middle school, allowed to switch classes, and have different teachers.  HIs friends were the people everyone looked up to.  He was the big kid with all the firends.  I used to stay up all night, wishing on every star that I saw that I would soon be as cool as Mike.


When I was twelve, I witnessed a prank by my brother Mike.  I was finally old enought to have recess with him again, even though we were both too big to play on the slides.  One day at luch, Mike, with the rest of his friends, decided they had enough.  They all ran to the playground and started going down the slides.  WHile they eventually got caught, that was the type of person I hoped to be one day.  Confident enough to do something without worrying about the consequesces.


When I was thirteen, I missed my brother Mike.  I was finally the king of the school.  The big scary eighth grader.  Yet, I missed the days when Mike and I used to walk to school together.  He was in high school now, and I wasn't.  I still felt like I wasn't old enough, or confident enough to be a leader of the school like my brother was.  I felt small in comparison.  I missed his looming presence over my life.


When I was sixteen, I thought perfection came in the form of my brother Mike.  He was as big as a person could get.  All the teachers in high school knew his name.  Every student in his graduation class recongnized his laugh.  I was known as Mike's little sister.  He got straight A's and was in all advanced classes.  This, I thought, was all that a person could strive to be.  Confident and popular.  This had to be perfection, becuase of it wasn't, I didn't know what was.


When I was eighteen, I watched the downfall of my brother Mike.  I just kept thinking to myself, why hadn't I seen the signs earlier?  My old brother was struggling, and I just stood by watching.  By November, Mike had come back from college and was living at home with us.  He was going to a progam at the hospital.  When he first came home, I didn't understand why.  Why did my perfect brother, my confident brother, suddenly have depression?


All my life I had looked up to my brother.  He was everything I was striving to be.  Seeing him struggling with an eating disorder and alcohol abuse shoked me.  Surely, this couldn't be the same brother that used to deify school ground authority and do what he wanted.  To me, this was his fall from grace.  I thought he was a perfect human being.  I was wrong.


I didn't know how to talk to him.  How do you go from worshipping to barely having a polite conversation about the weather?  My parents encouraged me to talk to him, but I didn't know what to say.  All my life I had been trying to be him, and now my perfect modle was ruined.  I would see him in the living room and pause, as if to convey my feelings.  But, every day, I would continue to walk up the stairs into my bedroom.
You can never be cured of depression.  But Mike did get better.  Second semester he went back to school and left our home again.  I was relieved.  It felt so awkward around him- knowing all this stuff that my mom had told me about him.  I was happy, though, that he had gotten his life back together.  At the same time, I was mad at him becuase he had ruined me.  He had ruined my confidence in him.


For me, seeing my old, perfect brother go through all that was a wake-up call.  No one could be perfect.  I couldn't modle my life after someone, even if they looked like they had it all together.  Everyone has their own secrets- their own demons- that they struggle with on a day to day basis.  It was silly fo rme to think that my brother Mike was any different.  I have to be confident in my own person and not base my life off of someone else.


Even though my brother didn't create the world, and wasn't the coolest person, and isn't perfect, he's still perfect in my eyes.


When I was six, I was taught to be compassoinate by my brother Mike.
When I was nine, I was taught to stand up for myself by my brother Mike.
When I was fourteen, I was taught to count on family by my brother Mike.
When I was eighteen, I was taught to be confident by my brother Mike.




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