A young man reflects on his brother and the relationship they share.
| Brenton never complains. Of course, I’m not sure if that’s because he just has a reserved personality or he really has no qualms with life. He sleeps in most days, waking up long after everyone else has set out on their daily journeys. On the few days that I sleep in, I will wake up and find him sitting in the living room watching ESPN, soaking up the latest sports gossip and statistics. Sometimes I’ll wake up and find the kitchen mysteriously cleaned, and a freshly brewed jug of sweet tea. I’ll smile inwardly to myself, knowing that he probably had taken no joy in doing any of it, but for me he left his own leisure. Brenton never complains. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever heard him complain at all.
We were born three years apart. For the first four years of his life it was just me and him; a fellowship between an extrovert who had trouble staying quiet and an introvert who couldn’t help being quiet until he was three years old. Because he was naturally quiet we never really talked; we never really relied on verbal communication. I mean, I was the more verbally expressive, especially where my imagination was concerned. But, my brother, he would draw his imagination. I was suffered from an artistic deficit; in other words, I struggled to draw what I was thinking. There were times that he could give flesh to anything I was saying or thinking. Even his multiple surgeries could not prevent his creativity from showing itself; we would sit on his hospital bed neglecting the video game console and turn our imaginations to blank sheets of paper and coloring pencils.
I knew that my brother was a different kind of person from the minute my mom and dad let me hold him after he was born. There is a family video that shows my caution in holding him. Naturally, I wanted to make a good first impression with him. I was also naturally afraid of hurting him unintentionally; afraid that one wrong move could harm him beyond repair. When I held him for that first time I started to rock back and forth, while looking at him and studying his face. His brown, newborn eyes were observing me and I think I remember him smiling, or maybe it was just my imagination. My attention was so captivated by his curious expressions that I overlooked the casts on his feet, the hole on his back, or the shunt in his head. I knew he was different from the first time I saw him, but how he was different I didn’t really understand. Regardless of my limited understanding at that moment, I felt that he needed to be protected; that he needed me. And that I needed him.
I’ll pour myself a glass of the freshly brewed sweet tea. Then I’ll sit on my usual seat at the couch. He’ll reluctantly hand me the remote control. A feeling of guilt will flare up in my mind, knowing that I would deprive him of his leisure once again. So, I’ll decline his invitation to the change the channel. His attention will go back to the television while mine goes to him. “It’s weird,” I think to myself. “I never really notice it, but it’s there. I guess you just get so used to it.” The guys on the television are running up and down the court, or weaving between blockers. He just sits there, his wheels locked in place and he watches them. Brenton never complains.