I have a three-year-old nephew. I know I just said that he's my nephew, but he's actually my little brother. Well, that's confusing so let me explain. He's my sister's son and so technically he's my nephew, but if you asked him he'd say we are brothers. If you asked me, I'd say I'm his bruncle; a hybrid of fraternal and authoritative qualities in one person, that's me.
I have a hard time correcting him because I'd much rather be his brother than his uncle.
The reason why he's so confused about who I am, and what he is to me, is because I've lived in the same home as him since he was born. At first his parents feared that he would think I was his father. But instead of that, I've been pegged as his brother. What does that say about my maturity level? :)
After living with him, and being his in-home brother for the first three and a half years of his young life, I moved out. I told him that I needed to set a good example as an older brother by showing him that at the age of 25 one should leave their parent's home and seek greater independence. He understood.
With great sadness, I packed my bags and moved out, leaving my little brother to hold down the fort.
It's now been about a month and a half since I moved out. This week I went over to his house to say hello.
He was really happy to see me and said that he has missed me. He asked me how I've been adapting to my new living situation and if I get scared to sleep alone at my new house. He's very considerate.
We caught up, I watched him dance in Native American attire while lassoing his rocking horse, and then he decided to go to bed, which was odd because he never willingly puts himself to sleep. Especially not before 8pm.
His mother (my sister, not my mom) thought it was strange for him to want to go to sleep so soon.
I stayed a few more minutes, gave him a hug, told him to sleep good and then left.
A few minutes later I had a new voicemail on my phone. The voice on the message was hard to recognize at first, and then I realized it was my nephew's voice being muffled by crying sobs. Between gasps for air he managed to say, "I miss you, Dane." And then continued blubbering in the background as my sister grabbed the phone.
She left the rest of the voicemail, saying that she figured out why he wanted to go to bed so early and that it was because he was depressed that I didn't live at the house anymore. Our brotherhood was being threatened by our distance.
I don't think I've ever heard a more heartbreaking voice message in my whole life. It's the kind of thing that puts your heart in your throat and makes your stomach tighten.
There's a happy ending to this story. I don't live far from him at all. My new house is only a few blocks from my old one. So we're hanging out tonight and he's going to have a sleepover at my new house. He was overjoyed when I mentioned that we do this.
The brothers are alright.