“We Used to Play Pretend” — a memoir

We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money”
Yeah

The lyrics quoted above are from Twenty One Pilots’ song “Stressed Out,” and I dedicate them to my brother because they pretty well sum up our relationship. But more on that in the paragraphs to follow. (In this post I will leave my I‘s capitalized per my brother’s request at an earlier date.)

As I spend time this summer working at the same camp I worked at six years ago, the same thought repeatedly crosses my mind: “Remember that weekend six years ago when you came home and you felt like some girl had taken your place in the family?”

Well, ironically enough, six years later I am back at the same camp, this week is about the same as six years ago when I initially felt replaced, and a month ago that girl legally became a member of our family. McKenna married Zach.

My brother, the one I had all the extragalactic adventures with, got married about a month ago. And now he and his wife reside in Columbia, Missouri where she is working on her veterinarian degree, and together they are starting a life together.

I miss them. While I worry that my initial response to McKenna’s presence around our family six years ago may still unfortunately affect our relationship, I really do miss both of them.

But specifically as regards Zach, my brother, I must say that I miss him. He was my roommate for probably 15 of the 26 years I’ve been alive. He’s been my go-to guy for laughs, advice, and down-to-earth-ness, especially when I start getting overly serious and negative. There’s nothing like a good, “How about a ____ category joke from such and such website?” to pull me out of a negative funk. And any shared car ride, especially with our parents driving turned into a joke fest.

This is the same brother who as a child drove me crazy, not only because i could never beat him at any game we played, but because, as happens with all brothers, you don’t always get along. I still blame him–though I have no proof for this–for egging me on to pants him in a grocery store almost 15 years ago, which resulted in writing the following sentence 1,000 times: “I will conduct myself respectably in public.”

But despite the negative times, there were always the positive times. Sharing a bunk bed had its perks: whether being grounded to your bed, which is great when you’re both grounded to the same set of bunks, or at night throwing a stuffed animal back and forth between the beds and the wall (“tossing Herman up the crack”), or traveling to Star Wars land and helping provide peace and stability to the galaxy.

Then there was the time that we decided to wrestle and beat each other with belts and stuff just for fun (not out of anger), and our dad heard us romping around and asked, “What are you guys doing up there? It sounds like you’re bowling.” This then became a joke, “Hey bro, wanna go bowling?”

Stuffed animal baseball was also a thing.

But alas, the times change. And now, instead of being able to hang out and use our imaginations, we are forced to make money to survive. (Lord willing, we can someday use our imaginations–even together–to make money.) Now he has a wife to provide for, and I must let them go. I must be happy for them and pray for blessings for them. I must never let bitterness or sadness get the upper hand.

I wish them the best. I pray for many happy years together. I pray for them to seek God first and foremost always.

While the following verse has defined our relationship to this point:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time (Proverbs‬ ‭17:17‬).

the following verse sums up the situation now:

Don’t abandon your friend or your father’s friend, and don’t go to your brother’s house in your time of calamity; better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away (Proverbs‬ ‭27:10‬, emphasis added).

For my own mental and spiritual well-being, I must find a friend close by to fill the hole left by my brother. Obviously we can still talk, still play PS4, still FaceTime, but real quality time (like getting fast food) or assistance in troubling times will be lacking.

I love my brother, and I miss him, but I know he’s in good hands.God’s primarily, but also his wife’s. Between the two I needn’t worry. However I must make prayer for them a priority.

In conclusion, Tara, our cat, who always liked Zach the most sums up well my feeling in this post.

Soli Deo Gloria

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