Tomorrow my little brother goes on a mission and I'll miss him. I've played it pretty cool until this morning when I woke up and saw a fantasy football magazine that he "for us" (as he said) bought back in August laying in our room.
See, me and him have been sharing a room for the last few months. Kind of. When I first got kicked out of my room back in September, I slept out on a couch for about two weeks because I had piled all of my stuff from my old room on my bed (which was the top bunk) and didn't have much desire to move it and find another place for it. I was also protesting losing the room that was built for me and inhabited by me since 1993 (except for a few years when I went on my mission and my little sister put pin holes in the walls and made the carpet change colors, along with breaking my CD player I so graciously let her use......never trust high school kids), and I kind of felt weird taking over the spot that belongs to my other brother who is on a mission in Milwaukee (spanish speaking - I have to tell this because it makes a typically ordinary mission awesome) because I knew how much Mike looks up to Spencer. So the day that I finally did move in - 26 September, 2006 - I wrote and posted a note on 'our' bed that said, "Mike, Tonight I sleep in the bed of a legend. I do so with a humble heart. Love, Lee". I also hoped it would give him a good laugh, though he never said anything about it. Sometime in November, Mike unofficially and with no explanation moved out of the room, and started sleeping on the hide-a-bed. This kind of hurt (but not too much), because I started to wonder if it was a 'me' problem (do I smell? do I snore? is he uncomfortable that I sleep in my underwear every night? am I leaving the light on too long? am I fat?), and also because part of me wanted one of those moments where we both happen to be in bed and awake at the same time and he asks me advice on something like going on a mission and I could impart my knowledge on one of the few topics I know something about- even though the other part of me squirms at the though of having a personal conversation. He moved back in right around Christmas time, but after the New Year, he was out again. I think he might still believe in Santa Claus. So, like I said, we kind of shared a room.
(Using the hide-a-bed proved how much smarter Mike is than me. I slept in that room for almost three weeks and never even remembered the hide-a-bed, instead choosing to sleep on the longer couch and waking up with a sore back most mornings.)
When Spencer and Laura went on their missions in 2005, I regretted not spending a lot of time with them and getting to know them better, so I made a personal vow to do so with Mike. I figured he would need a replacement for the best big brother a kid could have, Spen, whom I think Michael respects like nobody else. And why not? They were only 20 months apart in age and Spencer included Mike in just about everything he did. Spen's friends were Mike's friends. Spen and his friends would do things like dress up like 30s-era gangsters and play poker. Mike was invited along (and had the best clothes). Spen and his friends formed paintball armies and went on overnight "Wars" in the mountains. Mike went along. When Spencer left on his mission, the numbers that showed up on our Caller ID didn't change at all, because the same kids were over at our house messing around with Michael. A few days after Spencer left, I found a copy of a letter Michael wrote to him where he expressed his regret for not being there when Spen left (on account of him being on a river trip [that Spencer advised him to not miss]), then compared Spencer's mission to a video game they played together. Mike said that he had been playing it ever since Spen left, in honor of him. I reread that letter about five times - partially because it was so funny, partially because it was a cool display of brotherly love - and while I don't think I cried, I probably could have.
Anyway, spending more time with Mike proved to be a worse strategy than not spending time with Spencer and Laura. Now there are so many things I am going to miss about Michael and it chokes me up a bit. I'll miss watching football with him all Sunday-long like we have been doing. I'll miss both of us counting down the minutes until Not On The First Date started on Sunday afternoons. I'll miss the inside jokes we came up with, usually out of mockery of something we saw on the news. I'll even miss his annoying habit that I tried to curb every week of him telling me how many points his fantasy football team had up to that point, or how many points his team or the team he was playing just gained on a particular play. I'll miss things like coming at 2 a.m. and seeing a post-it note he wrote on hanging on the door about the game of Madden he played against one of my high school friends (who Mike worked with), that said, "Mike 41. Adam 10. BLOWOUT." I'll miss him setting the recorder for "Prison Break" for me (because technology has finally passed me up; besides, I was probably the one that taught him to do it a long time ago) and watching "24" and discussing what had happened with him. I'll miss the few times over the last few months that we watched the 10 p.m. episode of "the Simpsons" and being reminded what a great show it is. I'll miss having someone laugh at my cynical jokes at the dinner table that nobody else - besides Callie sometimes - appreciated.
All this made me pretty late to work today and it was mostly because I stood in the shower remembering the memories I've had with my brothers. There haven't been a whole lot because I was so much older than them, but the one that stuck out the most came from October of 2003 when we were on vacation in Island Park, Idaho (the favorite place of all three of us). It was one of the hard times in my life because I was trying to figure out how to deal with my first broken heart, and this trip helped heal it. One of the most memorable things that came from the trip was the night that me, Spen, and Mike went moose hunting in the pitch dark with our fake guns, fake moose calls (that were hilarious, by the way), and karate moves we had made up. It only lasted about 15 minutes because it was pretty scary, but it was probably the funniest thing we had all done together and Spen would talk about it a lot over the next year.
It's hard to imagine little Mike in Mozambique, and I don't blame him for being a little bit scared (hey, I was scared of Edmonton), but know he can handle it. I don't know if I can handle him being gone, though. His departure tomorrow has become more to me than a good excuse to get a day off. I'll miss him and it will be weird to be brotherless for the first time since early April 1986.
Anyway, pardon the emotion and personal nature of this blog. It won't happen again. It's just that Mike deserves it.
(Note: the picture at the top is of me and Mike at the MTC when Laura went in March of 2005. I was 24, he was 17)