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Posted October 16th, 2013 under Personal View

A Lesson in Living

Tags: Family, Brother, Sister, Kidney, Kidney Failure, Kidney Transplant, A Charitable Life

A Lesson in Living

I was eight years old when I became a big sister.  Well, actually, I was a couple months shy of eight, but I was definitely old enough to understand that my time as an only child was ending.  My time of having my parents’ undivided attention was gone, and after about three minutes into this realization, I decided I didn’t like it much.  And that was all before this crying, pooping, spotlight stealing baby came into this world.  Yep – I was getting a baby brother, and I was slightly peeved about the whole deal. 

And then, I met him and my world as I knew it was irrevocably changed.  My dad came to pick me up from second grade – school had just resumed from summer break, and it was a hot and muggy August day.  I can remember spotting my dad coming into the building, and I knew he was there to pick me up.  I was also sure that we would be headed to introduce me to this being who had exacted so much change in my life already.  On the ride there, I had a million thoughts bumping around in my head, and the idea that I was someone’s big sister was starting to sink in.   Upon arriving on the Labor and Delivery floor, I was greeted by a nurse who handed me a sticker that said, “Proud Big Sister.”  It was a white, shiny rectangle label with black print and a baby blue frame around the outside.  As soon as I smashed it onto my shirt, I ran to the nursery window, climbed the two small steps, and peered through the glass.  There were several babies in the bassinets that lined the back wall, as well as a few bassinets directly under the window.  My eyes darted to all the babies, and then, they stopped on a bassinet right in front of me.  In it was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.  He was lying on his side with his little clinched hands right tucked comfortably under his chin.  He had thick dark hair, chubby cheeks, and pouty lips, and in that moment, I knew that I was part of something so much bigger than myself – so much bigger than anything I had ever known before.  I was a big sister, and just as the sticker on my shirt proclaimed, I was a very proud one.

As the days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months, the euphoria of having a baby around began to fade.  He was cute and all, but he cried, a lot.  And he demanded serious attention from the two people who had showered me with nothing but attention in the eight years before his arrival.  Now though, I wasn’t sad, or even jealous.  In fact, I loved to be the one giving him the attention.  Although the excitement of becoming a big sister had slowly faded, a beautiful awareness had settled in its spot.  I discovered a love that I didn’t know existed before he came along, and one that I didn’t experience again until I had children of my own.

As we grew older, we fought, of course.  But we also became as close as siblings can be given our age difference.  There were countless times that he would have a bad dream, and instead of waking our parents, he would just crawl in bed with me.  I can remember being in high school and coming home on a Friday night only to find a gigantic eight year old sprawled across my twin bed.  And, as mad as we would get at each other, for some reason, we never told on the other one for anything.  He never caved when Mom would grill him about a party she suspected me of throwing – ever.  We had each other’s backs, and it was comforting in an unimaginable way.  The day that he and my parents dropped me off at college was one of the saddest of my life – I watched the car drive away with my twelve year old brother in the back – wiping away tears and waving at me until I was out of sight. 

Even though he was the little brother, he was my fierce protector.  Truth is, I valued his opinion of the guys I dated more than anyone else’s.  As time went on, and I got married, I started to value him as an equal – someone I would have chosen to be friends with if we weren’t related.  I was so proud of this person that my little punk of a brother was becoming.  And I enjoyed him so much – he could make me laugh until I almost peed my pants over the most ridiculous things.  When I became a mom, I watched him take on the role of uncle and absolutely knock it out of the park.  He was as good an uncle as he was a brother and best friend.  My kids adored him, and he loved them as if they were his own.

Two years ago, as I was preparing for the wedding shoot I had that day, I got a call that would change my life forever.  My husband, who had traveled to Austin, TX, for an early birthday celebration with my brother, called and said that he was at the ER with Stevie and Ashley, Stevie’s girlfriend.  I knew Tebe hadn’t been feeling well the night before, but for him to willingly go the ER, I knew he had to be deathly ill.  And he was.  “The doctors are saying he is in kidney failure, Babe,” I heard my husband say on the end of the line.  What?  Kidney failure – what do you mean failure?  I thought he had the stomach flu – kidney failure – and before I could finish the thought, my husband followed up with, “It’s pretty serious, B – but your brother is handling it really well.”  That conversation began the most extraordinary journey our family has ever taken.

My brother displayed more courage and grace throughout the last two years than I ever imagined possible.  And now, in his time in the afterglow of receiving a life-saving miracle from our hero, Kurby Brand, he is using his power to positively affect the lives of others.  I am humbled and honored to be a part of something so real and so pure.  A Charitable Life was born of a time in which life wasn’t so good – when life seemed a little unfair to say the least.   And now that my baby brother is living a life not attached to and dependent upon a machine to keep him alive, he is more determined than ever to make sure others like him may do the same.

Thirty one years ago, my life was forever changed by a baby who taught me unconditional love.  Two years ago, that same baby – now a man – taught me about bravery in the face of the unknown.  Today, my baby brother is teaching me that we have the power to change the world – that we have the power and the grace and the beautiful opportunity to ‘Be the Good.’ 


Brandie Thorne - Proud Big Sister

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