On April 8, 2016, my brother and I went to Opening Day (Let’s Go Mets). We took a bunch of pictures and two days later, on April 10th, I posted one of those pictures with “#SiblingsDay”. Less than three months later, I lost my brother, and those pictures became the last new pictures I would ever have of him.
On April 10, 2017, I realized it was Siblings Day again when my social media was flooded with posts and pictures and dedications to siblings. It didn’t matter how much I scrolled, I couldn’t hide from it…#SiblingsDay was everywhere. It’s not that I really wanted to hide from it, I guess I just didn’t know how to do it.
My sibling loss group talked about Siblings Day a number of times. Most people said they avoided social media because seeing the celebrations of relationships they no longer have was too much- too painful. For me, it’s bittersweet. There were three of us, now there are two…but I’ll always want to celebrate being a middle child. Just kidding, nobody celebrates being a middle child, but I will always want to celebrate my brothers, our relationships, and the influence they’ve had, and will always have, on me. And that’s what Siblings Day is all about.
National Siblings Day was started by a woman named Claudia Evart to celebrate and honor the importance and significance of sibling relationships, after she lost both of her siblings earlier in her life. She believed Siblings deserved their own day of recognition; her sister’s birthday is April 10th and that’s how National Siblings Day came to be. I found new meaning and appreciation for the day when I learned it was started by a bereaved sibling. Part of her healing process was to help others understand and embrace the sibling relationship. I’ve always loved my brothers but I didn’t know what that love really felt like until I lost one of them.
There is literally no other relationship like the sibling relationship. The passing of time doesn’t exist with our siblings because they’re always with us in life. Our siblings are the only people we know from the beginning and are supposed to know until the end. They’re our first friends and our first enemies. They see us at our worst (chances are they caused it) and they see us at our best (but they’ll never admit it). They’re the first people we look up to and the first people who look up to us. They are the keepers of our secrets, we are the keepers of theirs, and teach each other the art of strategy and negotiation…because sometimes bribery and blackmail are the only reasons our secrets remain secrets. Mom and Dad, for the record, I really *don’t know* how that giant hole ended up in the wall at the top of our stairs 30 years ago.
National Sibling Day exists to remind people to celebrate their siblings. I wonder if the reason it can be painful is because we all wish we could celebrate with all of our siblings but we can’t. We post pictures but they’ll never be new pictures. Like us, those pictures will only get older, but our siblings will always be as young as they were in the last pictures we have of them. Maybe that’s why I like looking at pictures from when we were kids- back when we all looked young together and time stood still for us.
What people say most often about COPE is how helpful it is to simply share space with people who have experienced the same loss. I wanted to do something this year for National Siblings Day, to honor, celebrate, and connect COPE siblings, both those who are here and those we have lost. We’ll never have new pictures but that doesn’t mean our pictures always have to look the same. I thought maybe if we could see them all together, as part of a bigger picture, it would allow us to see our siblings in a new way. I hope each of you are able to celebrate the bonds and relationships you’ll always have with your siblings- they deserve it and so do we.
I want to thank each of you who emailed or texted to share your pictures. I felt your loss and your love in all of your messages, and meeting you and your siblings was truly profound. Thank you for sharing yourselves and your brothers and sisters, not only with me, but with each other, and the entire COPE community.
With appreciation and love,