**I wrote this post a few months ago, but hadn't hit "publish". Last week we had dinner with some friends and were discussing "brother" relationships...and I remembered all of this all over again...
Being an only child, I had no idea what to expect of the relationship between you and your little brother. Eight years is a huge gap to fill. Would you be close? Would you resent him for taking the "baby" spot? Or forcing you to give up the "only" spot? Would you be alike? Or different?
As I started to write this, a flood of memories came back. Some of them we've told over and over throughout the years. Some of them I've never shared before.
When Z had colic (whatever that IS) for approximately 3 months (seemed like forever) you took your turn walking up and down the hall with a crying baby on your shoulder. I don't remember anybody asking you to do it. You just did.
When it was your eighth birthday and some friends spent the night, I don't think you had much fun...you were too worried about them being noisy and waking your baby brother.
Probably the hardest memories are ones I won't share. But during a really tough time, you were the constant for him. I doubt you even realized that.
I remember ornery, 5 year old Zach, standing with his hands on his hips. He looked at you and said, Clint Eastwood style, "you want a piece of me?" You promptly picked him up and put him in the big green trash can. Oh. That is still funny!
Do you remember all the times you put eye black on his face before a football game? Or re-created the elaborate "football faces" of whoever that Texas Tech player was? I'm pretty sure you were the coolest big brother ever.
You were the person he competed with. Even though you never played football together. He has always wanted to be as fast as you, as tough as you and hit as hard as you. I remember him crying one time after football (2nd grade) because he couldn't do what you did. He didn't care what his friends abilities were. Only about his brothers' abilities. Somebody asked us the last time we were in Arkansas who had "trained" Zach. Dad and I looked at each other and said "his brother". His competition was never his peers. He was always competing with a brother 8 years older than him. That tends to help make you tough.
So many times when you were in high school and had friends over, Zach was right in the middle. He may have been annoying to you, but I'm pretty sure he never realized there were so many years between you. He just thought he was one of the guys. Your friends were his friends. Thanks for having friends who treated him like "one of the boys".
Remember a few years ago when we had lunch together so you could give me parenting advice? You had seen your little brother holding hands with a girl. ( they were sitting in the living room. With a room full of people. Watching television. You were very disturbed. ) The realization that he was growing up didn't sit well with you. I was supposed to "put a stop" to that. Love you son. THAT may be my favorite memory ever.
This short list is obviously just a tiny snippet of "big brother" stuff you've done. But, it's enough. Your first little boy has a lot to live up to. Love you buddy.