The Last Knock
As a kid, I was a sleeper. The weekends where my sanctuary – maybe I wouldn’t sleep until 10 in the morning, but I would be lying in bed until then, at least.
My little brother was not a sleeper. And every morning, without fail, I would hear a knock at my door, long before 10 am. A knock, followed by a little brown-haired boy in an oversized t-shirt cracking open the door to see if I was ~actually~ sleeping.
For every day I can remember of my early life, my mornings consisted of me in bed, talking and laughing with my little brother, who sat on the floor.
I don’t even remember what we’d talk about. It just became part of a routine. We would sit and talk, until we decided we were both hungry enough for breakfast, and we’d walk downstairs together. The wall that separated our bedrooms didn’t stand a chance; we still managed to wake up to each other every morning.
I remember complaining to my mom once: “He comes in every day. Every day. Sometimes I just want to sleep.”
“He just wants to talk to you, Leah.”
Eric grew up fast. He flew through math and science classes that I clawed through, but was charismatic and kind, always cracking jokes with his dry sense of humor. He was a good soccer player but eventually gave it up to wrestle in high school like my older brother. He was good at that too, and was bound for the state meet until a bad ankle sprain knocked him out at regionals. The next day at practice, he gave his shoes to a younger teammate who’d advanced.
A selfless act of kindness and compassion, the ultimate display of maturity and respect.
He’s now taller than me, faster than me, and has way better hair than me. He’s definitely more outgoing than me, although this was obvious because I would never have knocked on his door in the morning.
My little brother is kind of all grown up now. When I hear stories about him from his present friends, I can’t help but get lost in the memories of us saying “peppermint patty” to each other every time we pass a “No Parking” sign on the street, or pulling t-shirts over our noses and claiming we were “souvenir bandits.” I get lost remembering us making chickens with our hands and dancing to the classic rock music in the backseat of dad’s car on the way to Real Life Day Camp.
And still, what hurts the most is knowing there was one day Eric knocked on my door, and never did again. There was one day we outgrew our morning conversations, and we never knew which one was the last.
The last “peppermint patty,” the last “souvenir bandit.” The last chicken dance. The last knock.
I find solace in these tiny memories. Comfort in the fact that I don’t remember life without my brother, that we are intertwined, like blood vessels. I found solace in the fact that out of everyone we know and love, we might know and love each other the best.