Monday, August 12, 2013

Of Bodies, Celestial and Otherwise

As teens my brother and I did what siblings born to incapacitated or absent parents do: we grew close, our connection strengthened by the understanding that we were, each of us, as good as it was going to get. If we craved solace, we had to look in each other's eyes. No one knows the particularities we lived better than we do, and that shared knowledge forged an unbreakable bond between us. When I turned sixteen years old, my brother, away at college, predicted that there would no Sweet Sixteen, no ritualistic celebration, however small, for me. So he bought and sent me sixteen birthday cards, one for each year of my life.

Last night my brother, my husband, and I went outside to lie on our backs and peer up at the midnight sky. We were looking for trails of light, it being the right time, according to those in the know, to view the Pleiades meteor showers. We allowed several minutes for our eyes to adjust to the dark, and as we did we were silent, companionably so. I thought about something my sister-in-law had shared with me that morning: when my brother was hosting one of my nephew's little friends and his sister, the siblings were squabbling. My brother bent down to the boy and told him that when he was little, he and his sister fought just like the boy and his sister. But now, he confided, my sister is my best friend.

I thought about my husband on the left of me, and my best friend and brother on the right of me, and I felt lucky indeed. The sky was brilliant, cloudless and teeming with stars. I spied the Milky Way. We saw a few flashes of light, meteor showers, perhaps, but never did all three of us see a flash in the same place at the same time. I just want to stay out a few more minutes, my brother said. It would be nice for all of us to agree that yes, we saw this particular meteor shower at this particular location in the sky, so that we're sure it wasn't just an airplane, or our eyes tricking us.

We waited, but the climactic moment my brother sought failed to arrive. Still, I don't think any one of us was terribly disappointed. The night sky was spectacular as it was, without need of embellishment. 

Do you ever experience a moment, and even while one part of you is living it another part is processing it? My brain was busy filing August 11th, 2013 as a signal date to remember and fall back on someday, when my body is aged and infirm, and my memory is the only vehicle left to me. I imagine my elderly self smiling as I gaze on myself in early middle age sandwiched between these two people I loved, the three of us awed by the vastness and majesty of one piece of the universe, but also comfortably sure both of our place in it and of the people who anchored us there.


Emily said...

You are fortunate to have one another. I'm glad you do.

V-Grrrl said...

I have two brothers--and they have never let me down.

Kate Rivera said...

Your sister in law is a wonderful woman to share that overheard declaration, generous in her ability to see the importance of the relationship you and your brother share. Your "tucked away for later memory" reminded me of this classicWilliam Wordsworth. 1770–1850

530. Daffodils

I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, 5
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretch'd in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay: 10
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay, 15
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Sarah said...

That poem is lovely, Kate, thank you.

Christine said...

I am so glad you had each other during those difficult years on your youth. And ow he is a friend and loving brother in your adult life--what a gift!