My two brothers

I promised I would find time in my overly- full days to blog. I originally posted this on my first blog (on Myspace). I am slowly moving those over, and will post some of them in the next couple of weeks.

When I was younger, my parents were foster parents. They actually decided to become foster parents in the hopes that they would fall in love with, and adopt, at least one child. One of those wishes came true.
We had several little kiddos live with us over time. Two sisters that were silly, giggly, and a bit out of control. The older of the two tortured my dog for so long, that when she cornered him under our dining room table, he finally retaliated and bit her face. Stitches were needed. Not long after, my dog 'went to live on a farm', according to my mother, and it took me literally about 18 years to realize that he was put down, not sent to a farm.
A little girl who was quiet. I barely remember what she looks like; I only remember that she was found inside the cab of an 18-wheeler, hungry, cold, and afraid.
I think there were a couple of other kiddos, but it's all becoming a bit hazy now. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of muffled crying. It was always a surprise when I woke up in the morning, because I never knew if there would be a new baby, toddler, or child sleeping in one of the rooms down the hall.
L.M.* came to us when he was a little over a year old. He was malnourished, neglected, and little. He was blonde, with huge dark brown eyes, and he was a bit serious for his age. His parents were young, and his mother was actually in jail and pregnant with another child, when he came to live with us. He had a brother with special needs, who went to a foster home that was trained in caring for the medical issues he had.
Over time, he warmed up to us, and changed into this silly little boy, one who liked to laugh, loved to swing, and adored my mother. ADORED. They were very close. I was too young to understand the kind of bond between a mother and child, but I saw the love between them.
I cannot remember what his voice sounded like, and I do not know how he felt about us. I do remember he was born in January. He ate one thing at a time on his plate at dinner. He was afraid of my father. He liked to wear 'big boy' sunglasses. He had gorgeous eyes.
He stayed with us well over a year. He came available for adoption, as did his brother, and I believe my mother really wanted to adopt him and his brother, to keep them together. My mother could not bear the thought of living without L.M.
However, L.M. and his brother were adopted by someone else, someone who could care for his brother's needs, in another state.
L.M. was taken from us.

I will never forget it. I have snapshots in my mind of that time period:
My father sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of his stereo with headphones on, grief written across his face like graffiti.
My mother's tear-streaked face as we drove away from dropping him off. Her hands on the wheel, driving through a parking lot, turning back to look at L.M. one last time.
L.M., outside, screaming and crying for my mother, his mother.
His empty bed, empty room, the empty, silent house.
The lump that stayed in my throat for several weeks, the guilt that consumed me, ate at my skin until I was raw and worn down.

See, I loved L.M., but I did not always show it. I was young. I was 9. There were times that I didn't want to be bothered by him, which is normal for siblings. But I was so torn up about the fact that he might only remember my being mean to him because I was annoyed with him. I was so afraid he would not remember how much I loved to hug him, how much I loved his little feet, how much I loved him for loving my mother so much.
None of us were ever the same after L.M. Seeing pictures of him still puts a lump in my throat, and there is so much sadness in my mother's eyes when his name is mentioned.
There are many things I was too young to understand about the whole process, the entire situation, about the decisions that were made. As an adult, I understand them, but the 9 year old me is a bit angry about why it happened the way it did.
A little over a year after L.M. left, my brother Matt was born. His name is Matthew because it means 'A gift from God'. And that is what he was.
And I was so melancholy about having a brother again. I wanted a sister. Why? Not because I could dress her up in my dolls' clothes, but because, in my mind, a sister would be less complicated, less likely to break my mother's heart. Or mine.
But, he stole my heart with his serious little face. And any time I wanted to just scream that he was annoying me, I would check myself, because I knew I was lucky to have a second chance.
I jumped at the chance to feed him, rock him, change him, bathe him, parade him up and down the street.I didn't complain when he followed me around outside when I was playing with neighborhood kids, at age 3. I didn't mind that he got more presents than I did at Christmas. I loved when he snuggled on the couch with me, watching TV, at age 5. I'll never forget when he caught me watching Cujo one night, and he hid his face in my lap. It never bothered me when I would wake up early in the morning, to find not only his warm little body in my bed, but also all of his and my stuffed animals under the covers (age 7). And I have to admit that I was extremely annoyed when he hung my bras and & underwear on the ceiling fan in the living room to embarrass me in front of my friends (age 9), but I can laugh about it now.
There are other things I will never forget about my brother, which I won't detail here, because some things are just too close to my heart.
I am so thankful that we all had a second chance at having a boy in our family. I wouldn't trade him for anything, for anyone, in the world, even L.M.
I don't think my brother understands the enormous amount of love we all have for him. Or that he helped us heal. I think he gets annoyed by our love and attention, and feels we are smothering him, when all we are doing is trying to make sure we are never without him or his strong presence. We adore him. We are afraid to lose his love.

When I first wrote this, my brother lived a couple of hours away. About a month or so ago, he moved back, and is living with me while he saves up some money. We stay up late every night, snacking and watching The First 48. He regularly text-messages me funny song lyrics. He shares a very girly bathroom with my 3 year old. He lets my 3 year old call him 'Monkey Matt' instead of Uncle Matt. They chase each other around the house, and call each other 'poopy butts' or whatever other silly word my girl comes up with. I am overjoyed to have him back in town, and actually living with me. He makes me laugh, and makes my hubby laugh too. Although I am the older sibling, it is I who looks up to him.

(* I only used initials just to save us all a little heartache.)


Chibi said...

Thank you for (re)sharing this, even if it made me tear up at my desk. Foster parents are such phenomenally special people.

Kristie said...

I remember reading this story a long time ago and it's just as lovely now.

And your brother is pretty awesome, even if he thinks I'm strange. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Your brother is a hottie! LOL

You come from such an amazing family :)

moo said...

I'm weeping at my desk ... I can't imagine the pain that your famiy still feels over this episode. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

The LM story made me so sad.. my cousin lost a foster daughter she had for close to 4 years..it was a death in the family. I feel so so bad :-(

Awesome post about your snarky brother..I always wanted one of those.

Just Jiff said...

Wow. I just cried my eyes out! I had wanted to be a foster parent for so long but now I'm a mother to my own child and feel like I'm depriving her if I consider foster parenting. Maybe when she's older. we'll see. I definitely still want to do it.

La Petite Chic said...

This was a really beautiful post. Thanks for sharing this.

Jess said...

Here via Moo's Moo. And crying. Thanks for such a beautiful post.

just a girl... said...

i read this and ended up with wet eyes. what a beautiful post.

Unknown said...

Thank you for letting us all in a little closer to you! And your brother is quite the catch ;)