I feel that I write a lot about the relationship between my girls, their bond as sisters is like nothing I have ever experienced, nor witnessed, before. With just fifteen months between them it was inevitable that their relationship would be very special, that they would be so much more than just sisters, they would be best friends too. But there are special bonds between each of my children, not just the girls, and the bond between my boys is equally as special in its own way.
When Lewis was younger, if you asked him what he wanted more than anything else in the whole world, he would tell you, “A baby brother!”. And despite being just two years old when Joseph died, he felt the impact of his death massively, not just then but in all aspects of his life ever since. There were times, and still are, when he would ask me why he didn’t have a little brother of his own, why did Joseph have to die, why did he have nobody to play with when all of his friends had siblings to enjoy? And that used to break my heart, unable to give him the answers that he so desperately needed but equally, unable to give him the little brother that he wanted more than anything.
When my first marriage broke down and Lewis was thrust into a world of divorce, new houses and new people, at a time when I was struggling to hold it together, he missed the support of his brother, stood beside him, holding his hand. On holidays when it was just Lew and I, while the other kids played and Lewis sat beside me, too nervous to leave my side, he missed the companionship of a brother to run and play with, the best friend that he never had. As he grew and played with his power rangers, his wrestling figures, he missed the little brother who would have been the the red ranger to his black, the John Cena to his Undertaker. Kicking the football around the garden he missed the little brother stood in goals, sat beside him on the play station, lay beneath him on the bottom bunk, sharing secrets, talking about football, girls, how annoying we are as parents. For everything that I lost as a parent, he lost, perhaps even more so, as a brother.
And with the arrival of the girls Lewis was obviously over the moon, and yet I sensed his disappointment each time that his dream of getting a baby brother was still just that, a dream. I would see him watch the girls and the way that they were together and I knew exactly what he was thinking, “That should have been me and Joseph.”, written all over his face. Watching them grow, so close in age, just as he and Joseph should have been, was tough for me, but it was equally tough for Lewis. It still is.
So when we told him that finally, after ten long years, he would have a baby brother of his own, his response was not that of complete happiness and excitement as we had expected. After his initial reaction of, “Oh god are you pregnant again?! had worn off, he simply said, “But he will be just a baby and I will be ten…” and I knew then that his dream of having a little brother to share his life with would be a very different dream after all.
And it turns out, the bond between Lewis and Harry is not the one that he would have shared with Joseph, all of those years ago, but it is something new, and very special, nonetheless. I think it is important that we acknowledge that, that we accept we cannot recreate the relationship they lost, nor would we want to. The bond between Lewis and Joseph will always remain and I am sure he will carry that throughout his life, the “Whys?” and “If only’s” in very much the same way that I do.
From the minute that Harry was born I knew he would be different to the girls, that he would be just like Lewis, and he was. And seeing the boys together, Harry a miniature Lewis, is so lovely and exactly how I had hoped that it would be.
Admittedly there are things that they cannot do together. As of yet, Harry hasn’t mastered the rules of football, nor the ability to play FIFA, ride a bike or follow the dramas of Hollyoaks. But he can play, he can laugh, kiss and cuddle. It is very much a learning curve for them both, discovering mutual ground, finding a way to build a relationship at two very differerent times of life.
Harry idolises Lewis, very much so, copying the things that he does, and says, and every Sunday he will come with us to watch Lewis play football, shouting and cheering at the sideline, kicking a ball about just like his big brother.
And there are times, when Lewis isn’t out with his mates and Harry isn’t wrapped up in Twirly Woos or Mr Tumble, when their attention is solely on eachother and I hear them playing together, laughing together, sharing a bond that I will never come close to understanding.
And at night, often I find them cuddled up together, head to head, their features so alike, and those times, those precious moments, are the ones that remind me why it was so important for Lewis to have his baby brother. Right now those ten years may feel like an eternity and yet in time, as they grow, the age gap will effectively lessen, and one day, in the not too distant future, those ten years will feel like nothing at all. It excites me to think that, in time, these boys of mine will have the best friend they could ever have hoped for in each other.
And for me, almost two years later, the novelty still hasn’t worn off, and probably never will, of being able to say, “My boys”. Ten years later, brothers, best friends, and living proof that dreams really do come true.