I have only one brother, and he did not talk to me for eight years.
Brother is a year younger than me, and we were very close growing up. When he got older, he had to reject me in some ways before he could get married. That sounds crazy but that's the only way I can explain his behavior. He did not talk to me for eight years. It's a long complicated story that involves the woman he married and includes a tragic car accident, but the main thing is that for eight years, all I had from my brother was silence. And I hate silence worse than anything.
Three years ago, my brother's wife died of breast cancer -- and Brother came back into the family. His daughter, Drama Niece, has had time over the three years to get to know her cousins, her aunts, her uncles, and her grandparents. She loves being part of our crazy extended family and takes the train to stay with us whenever she is on vacation from school. She, Shaggy Hair Boy, and Blonde Niece are all the same age and have become quite the threesome. I see my brother all the time now, but mostly in situations where there are all sorts of family members around.
Yesterday, he came in to town for a few hours on his way to his stepson's college graduation. He and I went to Pretty Colour Lake for a walk. Drama Niece and Shaggy Hair Boy came with us, running ahead along the trail and talking to each other the whole time.
It was a beautiful sunny day in the 50s, but Pretty Colour Lake was not crowded. The lake itself is deep and round, a plunge pool made from a glacier. The water in the lake is a gorgeous unusual color, a green-blue shade that surprises me every time I see it, no matter how often I go there. We walked on the soft mulch-filled paths around the edge of the lake, paths shaded by white cedar trees that are more than a hundred years old.
We talked about kids, summer plans, and career plans. My brother has worked for twenty years as an engineer but after getting laid off, he is going back to school to become a high school teacher. We chatted about his courses and his daughter. I told him about my August plans to take a two-week raft trip on the Colorado River. It felt okay.
And I knew it would be okay, because we were at Pretty Colour Lake, a place I've known and loved my whole life. Steep hills rise around the lake so that when you walk the narrow paths, the landscape hugs you. We passed the little valley where we picnicked every fall, gathering pretty leaves and dipping them in wax, when we were little kids. I passed the bank where the maidenhair fern grows, and I remembered walking here with Artist Friend, him kneeling on the ground to touch the fern gently with his fingers. We passed the reef where I went skinny dipping as a teenager. I saw the fallen down tree where I used to come many years ago when I was having problems in my marriage and needed to be alone to think and to cry. I've walked these paths hundreds of times, as a little kid, as a teenager, as a pregnant woman. Many times I've been here as part of a whole big group, family members and dogs, everyone joking and teasing each other. Many times I have walked these paths alone, listening as other creatures scuffle through the underbrush.
As we walked yesterday, the lake was always in view, that amazing green-blue colour, shining and shifting as the sun came in and out. I could smell the cedar trees that have rimmed the lake since before my Dad was born. We could see my bother's daughter and my son, running ahead, climbing along tree trunks to get out over the water, playing the way we used to as kids.
Yesterday, I took a walk with my brother and it felt okay.