Sometimes words aren't needed. Sometimes, words cause more problems than solutions. Sometimes pictures bring you comfort where words do not. Sometimes you have to look at the pictures and believe they represent not only the past, but the future too.
Sometimes what you need to do is think what you are, what you have, what others need, what you can do and what you can't.
Sometimes you have to value what is, remember what was, and work towards better...always better.
And sometimes, you have to surrender - you can't control everything and everyone.
You do what you can - no matter what anyone else thinks you can and then you surrender and let the forces take you where you will and more, take them where they will.
Will it be a force that hurts others...hurts you? And what will you do when given the choice to hurt yourself or someone else? Your brother or sister, your wife or husband versus yourself?
They start out so small, our children. They are so open to love and each other. I see it now with my grandchildren. They are whole worlds - a son and a daughter, two cousins, two grandchildren, and more. They are the niece and nephew of several aunts and uncles - and each wants time with them. And already I see how my grandson loves my granddaughter. He is 3; she is 9 months old. She is "our Michali" and he watches over her. Already there is love.
With childhood comes the acceptance of the lines of a relationship - this is my mother; my father; my brother. My cousin. My grandmother. My aunt. My uncle.
If you fight the tides of time, the forces that too often rise up to separate you from your root family, you can take that relationship into the future. I've seen it happen enough to know it is possible that sisters stay close; brothers continue to rely on each other.
And I've seen it fail - seen brothers not talking for many years, even parents and children separated for reasons sometimes they can't even explain. It's a sad commentary when it happens and even sadder if it goes on too long, even forever. More than once I've heard people say they should have...
At some point, a parent accepts certain realities. It begins with the first time you yield to your child to take something out of the cabinet because they are taller; or hand them a bottle to open because they are stronger.
Time waits for no one, they say - and just as you are surprised how quickly the shift comes, your children relish it, enjoy it. They are stronger and quicker for the first time. Too often, they think they are wiser too. Who knows? Sometimes they are.
But from that first moment, even if they don't know - you know, something has changed. From that moment onward, the shift continues to grow and at some point, they realize it too.
I think in today's world, it is worse than ever. Children have become stronger than their parents over time for all of history but with today's technology, so easily grasped by the young, they mistake the superior ability to surf the Internet, configure a phone, etc. to be a measurement of understanding life. It isn't, you know. It really isn't. Still we have what to offer, wisdom if only they will listen. They have experienced things we never will, and it touches them. I heard a reference to it the other day and knew there was nothing I could say to respond. In this, he was right even if in other things, he was wrong.
At some point, they are by your bedside when you are sick...compared to all the times you were beside them and up with them in the middle of the night. Now you sleep, and they are up in the middle of the night. Now you stay home, and they go out. Now they begin to juggle all the things you once struggled with.
At some point, they even take over dealing with bureaucracy and the things that remain hard for someone who lives in a country where the mother tongue is not your native language but they came here young enough to fly through and make themselves heard. They even suggest how you can run your business, perhaps even your relationship with another brother (or your husband or wife). It's all part of their growing up and becoming adults. They are returning the advice you once gave them, reversing the relationship just a bit more. And really, as much as you want to stop it, you can't. And somehow, even they aren't really happy with the reversal and blame you for allowing it when it is time and nature that has done the most to make them stronger and taller and bolder.
Authority is gone in the sense that you can't physically punish or order them to do things. What they do now is based on the respect they give you, and the love. You can ask. And now they can say no.
And you can ask, even beg...but you can't force because they are too big to be picked up and put in a corner.
Now, it really comes down to love. And maybe that's what it's all about - love. If they remember that, they'll have a future where they can depend on each other. If they don't, in many ways, they'll walk alone. Without those who could have walked with them the farthest distances in their lives. Ones who have always been there, and always should.
I watch the relationships they build - with others, and between themselves. I wonder if they'll ever be able to undo some of the damage they are causing now. I look at some siblings and see them get along so well; I look at others and see how distant they are. Two directions - towards or away...and a choice to make. Always a choice - but their choice, not mine.
I see my children building their relationships as uncles and aunts to their sibling's child. How they cuddle the little ones and offer them love. Unconditional and without limitations. My children greet their niece or nephew before all others in the room. The little ones light up the house with such joy. They give and receive love without hesitation. Kisses and hugs for the asking, as once my children gave them. It really is all about love...we just forget that over time, let that lose its place too often.
Deep down, already, I understand it is about them, or it will be in the future. For now, there is still the "us" - two parents, five children, three spouses and two grandchildren. God willing, there will be two more spouses and many more grandchildren.
At some point, the "them" goes beyond the "you" and their relationship lives on...or not. And whatever it does, you have to accept it. That is what I am struggling with now.
Four sets of brothers in some sense. Three sets of brothers in another. Two sets in yet another sense.