The naturally gentle, sobering, rocking-chair-like motion of the car ride becomes roller-coaster-like tossing from side to side as we travel further and further away from civilisation. It’s best to keep my eyes on the road, especially since Ellice beat me to shotgun.
But from the corner of my eye I notice his. Both of them. Gorgeous, wide, infant, Italian. Except this isn’t my usual lively, pleasantly-surprised wide-eyed brother. This time the wide eyes are glassy, accompanied with a frown and pouty puppy lips.
They don’t leave my face. Mine don’t leave the road. What’s he upset about? As mine meet his, his gaze suddenly shifts out the window. I no longer see the pout, but I hear the whimpering.
My hand on his knee prompts his knees to his chest.
So we return to our starting positions.
His eyes on me. Mine on the road.
My eyes on his. His out of sight.
And so we practice this scene. Over and over again.
Except this is not a play.
It’s my fault. The glassy eyes are my fault. The whimpers are my fault. The frown. The puppy pout. They’re my fault because his big sister isn’t in his life. His big sister isn’t in his life while he’s growing into a young man. She’s not there to see him swim his first lap of the pool; to read his first written story; to help him count out his pocket money as he makes his first purchase.
It breaks my heart to see his broken. It twists my mind to think I must return home soon.
It takes all my energy to remind myself I have my own life to get on with. That with a twelve-year age gap there comes separation and sacrifice. That the bond of blood is there for life and will still be there for my next visit.
If only a six year old had the capability of holding this understanding too.