Right now, you’re best friends.
You beg to come with me when it’s time to wake sissy up from her nap, and her first words every morning are usually, “Brother?”
You spend every day chasing each other around. You grab Buzz and she holds Woody, and you run laps around the couch, making flying noises as you wave your arms and toys. I can practically hear “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” pulsating from your hearts.
You pick out coloring pages and sprawl across the floor, uncapped markers filling the spaces between you. You fight over colors and help each other get stickers. You draw monsters and swirling scribbles, smiling proudly as we attach them to the refrigerator.
You argue over what movie to watch, each adamant of your own idea. We search and search for something, and when we finally land in agreement, it isn’t long before you’re tucked under the blankets and leaning against each other.
Soon, you’ll forget the movie we agonized over, and I’ll find you wrestling on the couch, smiling and giggling until one of you falls off.
Right now, you’re best friends.
You’ll dump out all your toys in the dining room and then announce you’re going to play upstairs. I’ll yell for you to leave the doors alone, but they’ll inevitably slam one more time. Then a few minutes later, I’ll hear the crash of LEGOs in the echoes of your play. You’ll laugh and shriek. When I finally peek my head through the door, I’ll find Lily wrapped up in the blankets of your bed while you clutch dragons and transformers on the floor beside her.
You’ll play at the park, each content to do your own thing. Lily will climb the stairs while you kick designs into the mulch. When you’re ready to go down the slides, you’ll make sure I come with you. We’ll all climb up together and get situated side-by-side. Lily will wiggle into my lap, and you’ll hold my hand. We’ll count to three, shout go, and whoosh down the green curving plastic. Your hair will grow static-y as your grins stretch wide.
You’ll race into the library, squealing, “Books!” in unison as you beeline for the kids’ section. Lily will get distracted by the chairs, and you might spread out in the beanbag like your dad in a recliner. We’ll pick out dragon and monster books, with a couple of cat and dog books sprinkled in for good measure. You’ll follow me over to adult fiction, and I’ll hear you flipping through pages as you sit precariously on over-sized chairs. Soon, you’ll grow restless, and I’ll whisper-shout as you start racing each other down the halls.
Right now, you’re best friends. You don’t know anything different.
You’re both all each other has.
But as time goes by, that will change. Next year, you’ll be off to preschool. You’ll spend hours in a room filled with other kids, other toys, other books, other memories.
In a couple more years, Lily will follow after you. You’ll be in second grade, and you won’t be together like you are now. You’ll have different schedules, different teachers, different recesses, different days. You’ll come home at the same time every day, but most of your day will be spent apart. You’ll make new friends, find new books, create new games, and laugh in new ways.
Elementary school will blend into middle and high school. You’ll grow taller and more coordinated. She’ll grow shyer and more determined. You’ll laugh together in private, but will you smile together in public?
I can see the lie spanning the distance between you.
It’ll start small—a belief that settles in your mind. That it’s uncool to hang out with your sister, that your brother is a nuisance. Maybe you’ll have crushes on each other’s best friends and piles of homework and hours of practices, but you’ll tease each other, bicker about chores, and slowly start to see each other as annoying or inconvenient.
You’ll forget the days of wearing superhero capes and masks and fight over sitting in the front seat. You’ll grow embarrassed over baby pictures and argue over having to stand next to each other for another snapshot. You’ll smile during birthdays and maybe secretly grow resentful of the attention your sibling receives.
Right then, you may not even like each other, let alone remember that you were once best friends.
Right then, you’ll be focused on your teams, your grades, your peers, and your future plans.
Right then, the bond you formed as babes may feel strained and forced.
But I pray that, despite what the world tells you, you’ll always be each other’s safe place.
That you’ll remember the ways she stuck by you, and that she’ll treasure the times you stood up for her. I pray that when you have a crush on a girl, she’ll put in a good word for you. I pray that when she struggles with a class, you’ll help her prepare for the test. I pray that when you don’t feel comfortable talking to me or dad, you’ll be able to go to each other.
I pray that no matter how the lie embeds itself in your thoughts, you’ll never let it fully take root. I pray you won’t let anyone or anything strangle the love in your hearts.
And I pray that one day, you’ll look back and realize during everything, you were still best friends.
When you’re old and married with your own kids, you’ll call each other up and laugh over all the ways your kids remind you of those early days and all the crazy things you did together.
I’ll smile as you raise my grandchildren, knowing that one day they’ll discover the same thing you both did.
You always had a best friend, and you always will.