“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” – Abraham Lincoln

My teenage brother is feeling down lately. I can tell he is not in a good space. Ever since our parents passed away I have stepped into the role of parent for my siblings. There was no family discussion regarding how we would proceed or how the relationships would change. It just happened. And somewhere in there they started treating me like their mother. I don’t mind it because I know they need a mother figure but they need their sister too. I dont know how to balance the two.

I want him to talk to me. I understand what he is going through. I want him to know that under the bossiness and worrying about school fees and making him try clothes on before I buy them, I’m still his sister. He has been so resilient up to now. He has been calm, understanding and so strong its scary. He understood when I could not send him pocket money at school because I didnt have it. He understood that he could not get new clothes or trinkets that teenagers like for the longest time. He understood when i asked him to go to the passport office by himself and apply for a passport because I could not leave work to take him there. He has been as solid as a rock.

Even though I am much older losing both our parents so quickly sent me reeling emotionally and psychologically. The only reason I didnt come unstuck is because I knew they were watching me, taking their cues from me. So I have held it together. I have brought us back from the brink of becoming homeless to being ok. I have bullied, shouted, punished and still loved my sister into behaving like a grwon up. I have budgeted to within an inch of my life and its working. I have managed to get them both nice clothes, little trinkets and a good place to stay in a good neighbourhood. We are doing ok. We are not where I want us to be but we are getting there slowly and  I will make it happen.

Everyone tells me what i have achieved is amazing and that I am remarkably strong. And yet inside I am still a child, I still miss home…home before everyone was gone. When mum was there. A home that doesn’t exist anymore. I still cry myself to sleep some nights. I miss my mum so badly its like a constant pain. I miss talking to her and knowing she was listening.  In lots of ways I need someone to talk to too. I am not nearly as strong as I look. Thats how I know what my brother is going through.

Maybe if we talk, we can save each other.