I ask him hesitantly, kicking imaginary dust off the step. He looks at me, and shrugs. “Yeah, sure. I’d be up for that.” I backtrack, immediately skeptical. “You don’t have to! You can’t just – yeah. You don’t have to.” He shakes his head at me, and stands up, stretching his long arms towards the pink sky. “Hil. Let’s go. I’ll get the key.”
We drive without talking for a while, Eric Church and Jason Aldean our companions through the emptied suburb streets. He has one hand on the wheel and I can just see a bit of his brown cowboy boots peeking out from beneath his dirty jeans. This is the brother who spends his days in the sun, working grounds, mowing and pruning and planting. This is the brother who puts his callused hands to the ground and takes care of things. I shift in my seat next to him, crossing and uncrossing my legs under me. I start to say something. “Can I ask you a -” but suddenly my lip is trembling and I feel like crying and I can’t control myself. It sounds so stupid.
He looks over as we pull up to the stop sign. “Hil? What’s up?” I look out the window. He’s my younger brother, I say to myself. How can I be this stupid in front of him? I want to be laughing and wise. I want to be the one who gives him the advice, who tells him the truth, who teaches him about life. But I’m still sniffling and now we’re driving through a development, the same five year old maple leaves brushing against the truck. He waits.
“I just… I’m sad. I’m sad about – you know.” He nods. A rough hand touches my shoulder for a second, and returns to the wheel. “I know. But you know, Hil, you’re great. And if he doesn’t see that, and if he doesn’t want it, and if she keeps saying those things… well. I promise, it’s because there’s more going on inside them that you can’t understand. But you are still you.” He pauses, looks out his window. “I love you, Hil.”
And as he flicks on the blinker to veer home, I am crying for a different reason. My brother is wiser than anyone else I know. He is a nineteen year-old truck driving cowboy man, who takes care of things, who makes me sing Eric Church at the top of my lungs on the way home from church, who finds me in tears late one night after a fight with a friend and walks with me while I sob about how much words hurt.
I can’t hide from the brother and his red truck. I can’t be the perfect older sister. I can’t pretend to have all the answers. He teaches me, takes care of me, reminds me of the truth more often than I remind him.
Sometimes the greatest blessings are the younger siblings who drive us through suburbs and hold us while we cry and come looking for our hearts when we try to hide them. Sometimes, the richest witness of Christ’s love is your younger brother in his red truck.