My little brother got married. And by little, of course, I mean younger and not actually smaller. I say little because I still think of him this that way--as small but mighty. Timmy was born with four holes in his heart. For the first four years of his life, no one knew. Most kids with this kind of heart defect turn blue on occasion. Timmy never did. I think it just never occurred to him to be anything but pink.
He had open heart surgery when he was 5. He was supposed to spend the rest of the summer taking it easy. Telling a 5 year old boy to take it easy—it’s like telling a bird to take a walk.
A few weeks after his surgery, we were at the pool. He had an extra stripe of white sunscreen on the 10 inch bright pink scar on his chest. His chest was a bit of funny shape, as if he’d been opened down the middle like a clam and then wired back together. (He had.) He was constantly being reminded to take it easy.
It was a nice easy walk to the top of the high dive. My mom spotted him up there, peering over the edge, his white greasy scar shining in the sun, just before he flung himself forward and landed with a splat, chest first in 12 feet of water. She got to him before the lifeguard next to the board even heard the splash. As she dove to the bottom of the deep end, she will tell you, “I was sure those sternotomy wires were broken.”
She pulled a stunned, but intact boy, from the pool; and for a few hours that day, he took it easy. He’s been back at it, though, plowing through life—sternotomy wires first—ever since. Maturity has pruned him to be more brave than reckless. His energy has been channeled into a fierce work ethic. And his scar has been a huge hit with the girls.
When I told my now sister-in-law that she was the best thing that’s happened to him since we fixed his heart, I really meant it. She’s sweet, and kind, and funny, and she lets him be himself.
Their wedding weekend was fantastic. I took the Boy home with me. Everyone loved him. And not like, “Oh, he’s nice. Where did you two meet?” But more like, “Oh my God, where did you find him? He is SO HOT!” (Granted, I didn’t really expect that from my uncle.) The Boy has a super cool superhero job. Word of it spread quickly through the groomsmen, and they spent most of the weekend asking if they could see his license to kill.
I never had to worry that he was bored, or didn’t have anyone to talk to, or wasn’t having a good time. I threw this great guy into a my favorite group of people, got myself a drink, and floated through an amazing weekend back home.
At one point, after several drinks, he accepted my mother's invitation to accompany the family on vacation next summer. When she mentioned this to me a week later, I said, “Mom, it was nice of you to invite him, but he and I aren’t really making plans quite that far in advance yet. We’ve only been dating a few months.”
“Well,” she said, “if things work out between the two of you, you can come, too.”