Monday, June 28, 2010

Ode to Brendan, Well, Not Quite

Today we left Brendan off at the United States Coast Guard Academy. Brendan will be in the academy itself for four years. After the four years, Brendan has to serve in the Coast Guard for at least five years. When the five years are up, he has the choice to reapply for even longer. While he's in the Coast Guard he's busy pretty much the entire year. The longest amount of leave he has at one time is three weeks. I will be seeing very, very little of Brendan for at least nine years.

Brendan has been much more than just a brother to me. Brendan was a guardian, a rock, a role model, and one of my best friends, just to name a few. I've shared a bedroom with Brendan my entire life. Some people think that would be a pain, an incredible nuisance, but I loved it. Sure there were plenty of times I wished that I had my own room, but in the end I never would have traded the shared room for one of my own. Unlike Brendan, when I was young I was both short and small. Though in the end it really didn't matter that I was a little guy, because I always had Brendan there to look out for me. I remember playing watermelon football at camp one year. It was a form of football that you played in a lake. The watermelon or "football" was placed in the lake. A whistle was blown and then everyone would charge like mad into the water. The goal was to get the watermelon into the other team's end zone first. That was it. There were no other rules. It was my first year at camp, and I was eleven. Brendan was fourteen and it was his third year at camp, his second at this particular one. The ages at the camp ranged from eleven to eighteen, with the vast majority being fifteen or over, and with only me and one of my cousins being eleven. So the whistle was blown, and we all charged into the water. Are team had six players, against the other team's eight or so. On top of that, our team had three really small guys, and two that were on the smaller side. As everyone dove for the watermelon, chaos ensued. I made a try for the "football" but got taken under the water from a tackle by a big sixteen-year-old. Being only eleven, and a small eleven-year-old at that, I went down easily under his weight. I came up from the water spluttering and choking, just in time to see a flash of brown as my brother came shooting from out of the blue and completely bowled the sixteen-year-old over backwards. As I could never imagine pulling that off, I was rather in awe, and thankful to my brother for saving me from gagging on the rather green lake water. Before I hit my growth spurt and actually developed the ability to play sports with any skill, Brendan helped me out countless times. No joke, I always wanted to be on his team because I knew he would be there immediately when I got in a pinch.

I never had that many friends my age growing up, I had a few good ones, but really not that many. Brendan though, was the amazing older brother. Brendan would always, without exception, let me hang out with him and his friends. It seems to me that most older siblings don't like it when their annoying little brothers/sisters hang out with them and their friends. I can't say that Brendan always liked it, but the thing was that he let me. He would rather have me hang out with him and his friends than be lonely and all by myself. He still lets me to this day, and it has always meant so much to me. He treats me like I'm every bit as old, mature, and capable as him. Brendan has always treated me more fairly than anyone else, ever.

If I was ever lonely, or wanted someone to talk to, I could go to Brendan. He was always there for me, always the unfaltering role model, the rock I could count on. Whether it was playing sports, talking about video games, doing something crazy, or just discussing something in the dark, late at night, when we should have been sleeping: I would always have a blast being with my great older brother. I could always count on his advice, and he was always there to offer it. I would always want to take part of whatever he was doing because he was so enthusiastic about everything that he made the most boring tasks seem fun.

I miss Brendan all ready, and it'll only grow over the long time away from him. I'll most likely never be able to spend near as much time with him as I have to this day, and that thought sobers me more than almost anything that has ever crossed my mind. His quick, easy laugh, and his loud, booming voice are probably two of my very favorite sounds to hear in the world. His wide grin that is always on his face, and the twinkle in his eyes are two of my very favorite sights to see. Even though Brendan has always strongly disagreed with many things I do or think, he never thinks less of me for it. I could write so, so much more about how much he means to me, but I doubt anyone would want to hang around that long to read about it. So this was just a drop of water that came from a vast, vast ocean.


  1. Thani,
    Wow. Wonderfully put. What a powerful, and honoring, reflection on your guys' relationship. I hope he gets to read this sometime (once his internet banishment is over). Love you and thinking of you.

  2. Thani, thank you for expressing this. It will mean a lot to Brendan, and it means a lot to me. I am so thankful for your relationship with Brendan - both ways. It gives me great joy. And I know that you guys' relationship will grow stronger and deeper in the years to come, in spite of the distance and the separation (which is painful to all of us).

  3. Nathaniel dearest,
    I can't thank you enough for allowing me the privilege of reading this powerful, meaningful, sensitive, so very touching tribute to your brother, Brendan. I wept as I read it. The relationship you two have forged over the years is one of the blessings God has bestowed on your family. Your parents, in following God's call & leading in their lives have never done so to the detriment of their family. Quite the opposite. All you kids have grown up with a great family life. God bless you for recognizing and sharing this great joy of your life's journey. I love your whole family passionately. Mema