I have been invited to join Cindy Johnson’s thankfulness project where you pick one thing to be thankful for each day in November. So today was the start! November first is a notoriously bad day for me for personal reasons, so I was having a particularly hard time finding something I wanted to be thankful for, even if it was begrudgingly. I threw a line out via text to the other participants of the challenge and received particularly repulsing positive answers, things like, “I can’t just pick one thing,” or “I love you, you’re a blessing,” and found this disheartening to my extra-special-only-for-November-first cynicism. So I brooded. All day. There was nothing I was thankful for! I hate my life, I hate the weather, and I hate to clean! I didn’t want to be thankful! I wanted to be grumpy and pessimistic all day. While I was knee deep in dust and dead bugs in an empty house I’m cleaning, a little hand in rubber gloves slips in my gloved hand, and a little voice says to me, “You’re such a good cleaner…” I decided I could be thankful for that.
We got my brother off this week to his boot camp in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, despite all efforts of thwarting from his girlfriend. I made as most of the time with my baby brother as I possibly could, even if I was just sitting across staring at him, waiting for him to say he changed his mind and we’re all moving to Canada. At 5 o’clock every night we all huddled around the house phone waiting for him to call, savoring every word. One night, my 4 year old answered his phone call. She asked if he got his shots today, where they were, and if they hurt. After about 5 minutes he hurriedly got off the phone. We were devastated we didn’t get to talk to him. Despite our desperate interrogations, Moxie said he didn’t say much. We would call each other periodically throughout the day to ask if he had texted, posted to his social networking sites, or secretly called that individual behind the rest of the family’s backs. If said treason happened, the guilty continued to gloat while the rest of us writhed in bitter jealousy. We had extended family and friends constantly inquiring so we were constantly relating the latest news and speculations.
I came home late one night and was looking for his car, seeing if I had beat him home. It happened to slip my mind that I was driving his car. I went to work, a job we worked together, it was the first time I went since he’s been gone. I made sure to observe all his little pet peeves, like peeling the plastic apart instead of cutting it in half, waiting as long as possible to eat lunch to avoid the after-lunch lethargy, and, of course, taking many bathroom breaks, saying little prayers for him throughout the day.
We went to see the new Disney movie, Monsters University, the other day. I didn’t really like the movie. I felt like it promoted not finishing college and starting off at the bottom of the food chain, breaking your back to work your way up. But what I liked was how Mike Wazowski savored every moment. Right before a big change, even a little change, he would stop, take a deep breath, gird his loins so to speak, and cross the threshold.
This is the last week my baby brother is in town. I get teary-eyed thinking about it. We have lived together for 19 long, hard years. We’ve stood next to each other and have witnessed the best and worst that this life has to offer. He is starting a new adventure without me next week, a military adventure, full of bad food, army boys, testosterone, and regrettable tattoos. It’s an adventure I don’t rightly care to accompany him on, but I will miss him. This week is my deep breath week and my savoring week. I’m at the threshold of change, not nearly as brave as Mike Wazowski, as I am willing it away, crying my eyes out, refusing to believe it. It is getting very real with this labeled “The Last Week.” So here I stand, side by side with my only sibling, my best friend and most piercing irritant, girding our loins, breathing deep, savoring our last moments together before his life, habits, outlook, personality is changed forever.