Love is never easy. Love is always complicated. And it is always the ones we love the most who will hurt us the deepest. I don’t know why that is. I just know that a few times in my life I have played with fire and lost big time, or gravely burnt my hands, at least. Regrets always come late. Insert the image of the smoking remnants of a house that has been burned to the ground, nothing remaining but grey ashes and the memories of what once was.
(Just to be clear, this was for metaphorical purposes. I’ve never burned down a house. At least not entirely. Maybe I will write about that some other time).
A ring that was almost given but never made it to my finger. How many times can you find the strength to rebuild? A lot of times, trust me.
The following story is a flashback to a moment during my childhood. A blessed time when even the most complicated things were delightfully simple. Where love was a matter of sharing toys and challenging each other to do “dangerous” things. And even when we were not kind to each other, we would pick up the pieces an hour or so later, and start over.
A story about a love that never ends.
“Do it, it will be fun!” My little brother and I are standing on top of the garden shed. Two small bodies in the golden red evening sun. I am eight, he is five. Our dad is at work, and our mom is preparing dinner. The smell of spaghetti sauce wafts through the window. I hear pots clanging and water running.
I don’t play with my brother often. He is three years younger, an eternity when you are a kid. And he is a boy. He likes playing with toy guns and cars, I like dolls and books. Sometimes our worlds merge together when I allow his soldier dolls to attack my Barbie dolls, but it does not happen often. It usually ends up in beheadings or scalpings, followed by tears and parental punishment for the both of us.
But sometimes we do things that are on neutral territory. Like making parachutists with clothespins and plastic bags to throw out of the second-floor window. Or digging holes. One day we almost made it to the other side, to China, I swear.
Our parents work in the hospital in town. Sometimes they bring home huge white pieces of cardboard, which were previously used for protecting X-ray films. The cardboard is an excellent play material for us. We draw and paint on it. Cut figures out of it. Build things. And my newest idea is that, if we hold a piece of board in each hand, they might work as wings. My brother is little, he believes everything I say.
So there we stand.
“We will do it together. On the count of three. One… two…”
He looks up to me. In his big brown eyes, there is a glossy layer of emotion that I am too young to understand. Trust, or maybe love.
You know how when you are in an emergency situation time seems to stand still? What happened next probably took less than one second, but in that time millions of thoughts raced through my head.
“What we are doing is crazy. We cannot really fly.”
My brother jumps. One moment he is standing next to me, the next I am surrounded only by country air and the evening wind.
“He will hurt himself. Mom will be angry.”
He lands on the grass, sideways and with a smack of his little hand, just like he learned in jujitsu class. I expected him to start crying because he fell down. Because he did not fly. I fear that he will be angry. Because I let him down. I did not jump together with him.
I look over the edge and see him standing down there. He seems far away, but I feel him very close.
“I almost flew!” he shouts triumphantly and smiles this huge perfect smile that only five-year-old boys can have. “Jump! Now you jump!”
And there I go.