Chapter 12: Sibling Rivalry
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Ahh, family. It was so nice to see my Brother and Father every weekend. I definitely planned on telling them of my recent commune with nature but when they came by this time, I had to withhold a secret. I was going home soon.
My brother and I were always at each other’s throats. Honestly, it all began before we ever laid a single hand upon each other. It all started when my older sister (by six years) and I would get into fights as kids. Good lord, I must have been what, 5 or 6?! What were you thinking, Kylie?!
We’d roll around, yell, and punch each other. It was here that I had encountered my first taste of the “art of fighting,” but as an older brother, it became subconsciously much easier to give the little one hell.
Naturally, as the years progressed, our squabbles grew in size and showmanship. I’d hit Travis, a little too hard, and he’d ball his eyes out. I’d do anything to get him NOT to tell our parents of the blow. Sometimes, I’d be able to coerce him into resisting. I’d offer him control of the T.V. one night, or another favor or treat. Eventually, the cost became too high for an older brother, years from having a paying job to fund such a deceit, so he’d soon rat me out like it was everybody’s business.
But that wasn’t much different than most siblings I had talked to. What set us apart was our shifting dynamic. Soon, the three kids were in the middle of a familial shockwave that rattled us to our very cores. My brother and I were the only two kids in (eventually) two houses.
The aftershock left me, the once middle child, in the position of “older brother.” I’d retain the insecurities and loneliness of the central child, but the seniority of “the elder one.” This inner dichotomy funneled into my subconscious– into both of us, and the new standard was the resulting side effect: An Eternal Tug of War between Travis and I. When I would tell Travis not to do something, he’d oppose me, fighting against my surrogate paternal instincts.
Over the years, we remained close enough, loving each other when on the same page, and tolerating each other (at best) when we read from different books altogether… so normal brothers. As kids, Travis would get angry with me and get the shiniest and largest cutlery from out the drawer and chase me to my room wielding the chosen blade. We’d yell back and forth through the door, making our “points.” Sometimes I’d come out and he’d get scared, dropping the knife immediately.
It was never as bad as this situation sounds. Our lives were never in danger, well unless he somehow tripped onto the knife, but even that was quite unlikely.
See the fights were passed down like old, outgrown clothing. The two of us took over new roles in the two-sided conflict and in turn get into rage-filled brawls. When one went too far, they would immediately worry and apologize, in an effort to stop the battle. Then the other’s “rage meter” would fill, reigniting the battle. It was quite literally a Ping-Pong game, one hit from either side after the other: action, reaction.
This continued over the years, even to the point where I heard one of the saddest things I will ever hear in my entire life directed right towards me: “My kids will never know they have an uncle!” That phrase shook me to the bone, and I’ll never forget it. I can’t even remember what we were fighting about then, or what I had done; but in that moment, remorse became my train of thought. The fight stopped in its tracks.
After that fateful threat, fighting would still happen on occasion, but it wasn’t as harsh. I would forget the lesson I learned that day, losing myself in blind rage– We both would. It was the back and forth nature of our disagreements.
Then I got cancer. I wonder how our dynamic would be today if I didn’t get Leukemia and our attacks against each other continued. Would it have improved? I’m a massive fan of time travel and it would be nice to see alternate timelines for the sake of curiosity. Oh God, is there one in which I don’t make it? I do not want to witness that one. We can leave that one be; I’m making it in this timeline.
After that diagnosis, my brother and I bonded. No more fighting, no more squabbles. We were bros.; like the Mario Bros. It was like someone turned off our Rock Em, Sock Em Robots and took us out of the ring, permanently. In the end, none of that shit mattered between us because we had been through it all, together. No one knew us like one another, and we both couldn’t lose our best friend.
Now I thoroughly anticipate my brother and father’s arrival. I can play the big brother and hold a secret over him, all without a hint that I, in fact, have a secret. It’s the ultimate long con.
I’m going to walk up to him, back in Fort Kent, and he won’t expect it. But first, I need to remind him that he’s next. My sister had a tumor on her wrist at 18, and I had Leukemia at 18. I needed to tell him he’s going to have cancer at 18, even though it’s a terrible thing to joke about.
What? I still have to be somewhat of a big brother… Hey, at least we didn’t fight anymore.
Wait, is there another reality where Travis got cancer and not me? I couldn’t see him go through that– no way. On second thought, I’ll refrain from using that joke anymore.
After all, we need to stick together in this crazy world.
This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.
The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writer. I’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.
Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.
And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.