Thursday, February 25, 2016

Michael, My Heart

For some reason I don't write about my brother a lot.

Or even, at all really.

I don't know why.

I love him more than almost anyone else. I think about him every day. I talk about him every day. Every thing I do in life, whether it be a major milestone like getting married, or having kids, or a small one like finishing a job project, or making my bed before I leave the house in the morning. I think about my brother.

I think about him every time I make peanut butter toast because once when I was about 7 or 8 years old I watched my mom take him out to the bus, like she did every morning, and I remember thinking to myself, "When I'm a grown up I'm going to take care of Michael and I'm going to make my toast like this and then I'll have to rush him out the door in a hurry before I grab my briefcase and rush off to my job." Because to me, being a grown up meant a lot of busy rushing around. But it also meant taking care of my brother.

I think about him when I put on Disney movies for my girls because Michael loves Disney anything. I absolutely cannot be in the room when they watch Lambert the Sheepish Lion because it is so my brother, like every single word of that movie was played a hundred million times when we were young. The combination of the fact that he was a kid, and a kid with severe autism, made it so that we watched the same movie over and over and over and over and over, until the tape literally crumbled from so much wear. So, when I hit play for the girls because they beg to watch it, I almost sprint out of the room because I am so overwhelmed with emotion I cannot be in there if I don't want to start sobbing.

I think about him every time I go swimming or get in a hot tub, because in the water is the one place he's sort of free. The weightlessness of the water, and the being surrounded by something with equal amounts of pressure on you must make him feel comforted and safe, because in the water is the one place he wants you to hold him, and hug him, and play with him. Outside of the water his autism makes everything too harsh, too uncomfortable, too much. We used to joke that he'd give you a hug and a shove. He'll lean in for a hug because he knows he has to, but it's an immediate shove away because it's too close. You're in his space. But in the water you can hug him for hours. In the water, he's free.

I can't call him on the phone like I can my mom and my sister, both of whom I talk to every single day, sometimes several times a day. I can set up Skype appointments with him and my mom, but it's dicey. He might not be in the mood. My kids might not be in the mood to let me talk. But when we do talk and he lets me sing to him, I will sing as long as he wants. I will sing a song we made up about the Galleria Mall a hundred years ago. I will sing Miss Mary Mack. I will sing Ant Go Marching until I'm hoarse and there are no more ants to count. So, I miss a daily connection with him. I miss being able to see him for dinner and call him "Sugarbutt" to his face which he love/hates. I want to feel him hug me and shove me away.

One day I'll write about him. Like, really write about him. The little things. The going out to dinner. The home magazines. The word books. The cloth corners my mom used to stay up late at night sewing so he'd have something to stim on that wasn't the shirt he was wearing. The lock on his bedroom light. The reading. The constant, horrible ear pain. The trips to Catalina. The snuggling. The swimming. The time he started to lose his hair like our dad, which was such a shock because he and Becky are still my little babies. My little twin brother and sister. (Who let them grow up?) The tantrums. The homes. The achievements. The laughter. The music. The smile.

But not today.

Not today.

Because I can't.

And I know you've all probably seen this, but this video made me so happy. So extremely happy. And this guy is so much more functional than my brother. Like, light-years more. But still. It's awesome. It makes me glad I worked at Starbucks once.

Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite job was, I always say Starbucks. Where I live now Starbucks is like a dirty word because it's corporate and not local, and that's a major sin for a lot of Bozemanites. But I loved it, I loved talking to people all day, and constantly working, and that's where I met one of my BFFs Jessica. Plus, I love lattes made the same way every single time. Sorry local coffee shop. Don't be weird and we can be cool.

(Just kidding local place, I love you too!)

Anyway, that video is great. And it reminded me that people are great to each other sometimes. And it reminded me of my brother.

My heart.

photo by Jimmy Bui


  1. This is so beautiful!! Michael truly has the best, most pure smile I've ever seen. And that video clip totally just made me cry! -Tiana

  2. This is so beautiful!! Michael truly has the best, most pure smile I've ever seen. And that video clip totally just made me cry! -Tiana