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trust…

July 12, 2013

          Maybe it was his swirling red cape. Maybe it was the early spring country air – two young boys at play in that joyful season of endless possibilities. Or maybe it was when he looked up at me with those wondrous round eyes, that I almost believed it myself. Maybe I did, when I think back on it. Maybe I did truly think that if he believed in himself, in that absolute way one must for such things, he could fly. Maybe my four-year-old brother really could be Superman!

          Or maybe, just maybe, I wanted him to fall on his head.

          “Do you really think I can fly?” he said to me, trusting absolutely in his six-year-old brother.

          From our little hillside ledge, not two metres above the ground (but oh, what a mountain!), on the edge of a thirty-acre field bursting with dandelions, and beside a million miles of forest, I thought we could see forever. “Oh, to fly over the vast open spaces,” I thought to myself as I watched a hawk slowly circling as she looked for some lunch.

          For a split second I envied his faith in me. His pure ability to believe unabashedly. “If you believe you can”, I said to him, putting my arms around his shoulders, “you can do anything”.

          “You’re lying!” said the little voice in my head. “Why don’t you jump then?” No! I wanted him to believe in me.

          And then he jumped. Just like that. Without any further hesitation. I held my breath.

          But the Laws of Physics are indifferent to the desires and dreams of little boys, no matter how pure our thoughts, and he crashed head first into the rocks below. And with the blood streaming down the back of his neck he ran off wailing for home.

          “No, don’t tell mom” I pleaded, running after him. “Here, put your hat back on. No one will notice.” (Another lie!)

          Six stitches later – and for the rest of my afternoon I was quarantined to my room. Left alone to pace and fret, and wait for our father to get home. “You’re old enough to know better than that” my mother had said hotly. “You could have killed him!” There’d be a strapping for sure. There must have been. I don’t remember.

          It’s my brother’s courage and unflinching trust in me that I remember now, nearly forty years later. He believed, where I did not. He jumped, when I could not.

          All seeds are planted somewhere. My brother and I have grown quite apart in the intervening years. I rarely see him anymore.

          He’s a soldier in Afghanistan now; walking through a land where no one trusts anyone.

          I wonder if he still has that little-boy courage.

          I hope so. 

          But I hope not, as well.

 

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