unfinished business of the sibling variety

My sister and I did talk about it, a long time before she got sick, when things were on as much of an even scale as possible between us as adults. We somehow managed to joke about how she thought our parents loved me best, since I was the oldest; I thought knew they loved her the best because she was the baby, and we both admitted that they loved our brother the most because, well, he was the boy. I wrote about our relationships a bit back almost a year ago here, interestingly enough, because I didn’t put in this factoid about our POV’s.

I did a search on my own site to see what I have written about siblings, just to make sure I hadn’t written about this before. I also found that I saw how hard it was going to be without siblings, according to science.  I still don’t talk to my brother, or let’s put it this way, I value my own sanity more than the relationship.

Last Shabbat, I approached a fellow to thank him for being there for my father after services the week before. My father had become very emotional (that was how he put it; one can guess what that means) after reciting the Yizkor memorial prayers and this man stayed while my father emoted, even after services ended. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness and of course, his kindness. He answered,

“Well, clearly you are a nice person, and your father is a nice person, and of course, your sister was a nice person, and I don’t know him, but your brother must be a nice person.”

I stopped him, even though I could have been a nice person, but I went for truthful. I told him that my brother is not a nice person at all, but pretty much mentally ill, and that compounds my father’s grief. I chose to tell him, because I know that he understands mental illness and how that impacts on the whole family.

“I understand.”

We went on a bit more and I was grateful even more to be able to share that with him. He’s a very kind, thoughtful, and understanding man.

This morning, while adding the prayers that have been set for Yom HaAzma’ut, Israel Independence Day, I noticed a theme in the words of Isaiah, Chapter 11. The previous chapter has the prophecy of the return of the remnant of the people to Israel, continuing with the wolf lying down with the lamb, etc. notions of peace that we can’t really imagine today.

And then this, Verse 13:

יג  וְסָרָה קִנְאַת אֶפְרַיִם, וְצֹרְרֵי יְהוּדָה יִכָּרֵתוּ:  אֶפְרַיִם לֹא-יְקַנֵּא אֶת-יְהוּדָה, וִיהוּדָה לֹא-יָצֹר אֶת-אֶפְרָיִם. 13 The envy also of Ephraim shall depart, and they that harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim.

I’m going to stick with the Jewish understanding, with Ephraim representing the house of Joseph, and Judah representing the kingship of David. But even with just a cursory look, it is clear that this is saying that the sibling rivalry that has existed until now will be wiped out, from both perspectives and both sides.

on the bus stop where the boys were snatched last summer in Alon Shevut
“Return, Brothers!”

Oh, and our brother? We never asked him, but we were both sure he would say that they nor we ever loved him at all.


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