Caleb and Beka/Beka and Caleb.
We are the “babies” of the family. You see, I am the youngest of four children. (1) Katie and (2) Anna are only 3 years apart, but Anna and (3) Caleb are 5 years apart. Caleb and (4) Beka–well, we’re only 19 months apart. So, you can see that there is A) Katie and Anna. & B) Caleb and Beka. I am lucky–I was born into a really great family, and I am close to every single one of my siblings. But Caleb is different. We grew up together and are bonded in a way that only siblings one school-grade apart can understand. We knew all of the same people, were in the same Sunday school classes, and hit major milestones together. He was ahead of me by one year, so there were always those times that he briefly left me behind. Like while I was still in Jr. High as a freshman, and he was a sophomore. Or, when I was finally a senior, but he left for his freshman year of college. But we *get* each other. He’s the only person in the world as funny as I am, and I can tell what he’s thinking. I can feel it when he’s sad even if he’s far away. He shares all of my childhood memories even if he remembers them “differently.” 🙄
As I am feeling sentimental today, I’ll share a few of them with y’all.
One of my earliest memories involves Caleb killing a snake. It was the summer I turned 4 and I remember a small snake was caught in one of our pool gutters. We always loved emptying the pool gutters because of all the bugs and frogs in them, but on this day there was a small pissed off snake wrapped around the handle of the basket. Using a stick, Caleb bludgeoned and killed it. I remember thinking he was so brave. I don’t know that he even remembers…
When we were kids, we both played together and fought together often simultaneously. Once, while we were actually playing, he split my face open with a plastic sword. It was a Wednesday afternoon, we were playing outside, and we were told to come inside, so we could load up and go to church. I told him that we needed to go inside, but he insisted on his stupid, “Duck!” game. He said, “I’m going to tell you to “duck,” as he swung his sword at me. He told me to “Duck!” and I did. “This time, I’m not going to tell you to duck.” I wasn’t quick enough. BLAM! The sword cracked against my left cheek, just below my eye–hard. It hurt, but when I put my hand up to my cheek and pulled it back down, my hand was absolutely covered in blood. I screamed. Supposedly, you could see my cheek bone. I had to go to Memphis, and have a pediatric plastic surgeon suture it back together, so I wouldn’t have a massive scar. I’d probably be a lot hotter without my disfiguring injury, you big jerk. 🙄 Honestly, if you’ve ever seen it, you probably thought it was just a dimple, but it was a Caleb-made dimple. Injuries aside, we spent our childhood playing outside all day everyday; going fishing, catching crawdads, and playing in the hayloft of the barn, threatening to throw each other in the horse troughs. He was my built-in playmate.
In college, our relationship changed Surprisingly, it was the time we were most distant even though we were in college at the same small university. A lot of that probably had to do with who we were each dating at the time (we were constantly going in different directions), but also because I was pretty unforgiving and felt it was my duty to use separation to punish Caleb for whatever I deemed offensive. Now we are not twins, but we are far closer than your average siblings, and the pain that comes with separation (physical distance or emotional) is real. Even so, when I needed him, or when he needed me, we jumped to each others’ aid. When he broke his ankle by being an idiot, I helped him to and from the bathroom and to and from Algebra class at DSU. When I was at death’s door and some awful nurse at the DSU infirmary accused me of being drunk, he came to my dorm to rescue me. I had a sinus infection, bilateral ear infections, bronchitis, and a 103 fever by the way, you hateful shrew of a nurse. So even though we were mad at each other, we still helped one another.
Luckily, the rockier part of our relationship began to smooth out when he met his amazing wife, Lakon. Ugh, I love her. She’s the best, man. I mean, I can make fun of her for days–she makes it SO easy–and she’ll just throw it right back at me. We can laugh at Caleb’s expense, play cards for hours, and lay on “$150 rugs” at 1 am. She’s the best, and has become a real friend to me. I just can’t tell you how much I love having another sister. So, when I first started dating Ben, I really wanted Caleb to like him. Caleb, although kind to just about everyone, does NOT let many close to him. If he doesn’t like you or feels like you are “uppity,” he will hold you at arm’s length and avoid you. I did not want that for Ben and by association, me. Luckily, I didn’t have anything to worry about. He and Ben got along well at first, and are now basically best friends. Caleb calls Ben just to chat, and he DOES NOT DO THAT. They have major bro love, and I couldn’t be happier.
As we’ve gotten older and adultier, we’ve just become closer. When Darcy was diagnosed with craniosynostosis, Caleb loaded up his family and came to Baton Rouge within 3 days. When my 20-week ultrasound with Clark showed abnormalities, Caleb immediately called and told me he would be there that weekend if I needed him. When he graduated from Chiropractic school, I drove across 3 states for a total of 8 hours to see him. That night after I arrived, I was sharing a hotel room with my parents and my father started snoring. It was the worst. I called Caleb at midnight, and he drove to my hotel to bring me to his house to let me stay on their couch. Less than 24 hours after arrival, I loaded up and drove the 8 hours back. On my first official Mother’s Day, I was neck-deep in postpartum depression. I was exhausted, tired, and lonely. Ben arranged for Caleb’s crew to join us at his parent’s lake house as a surprise. It was the best surprise ever.
And now, Caleb is headed off to a new adventure in Florida. It’s stupid because I don’t get to see him much, but I feel the distance. He feels farther away because he is. And knowing that he won’t meet us at the house when I go home to Tobie stings. It’s hard. I’m so, so happy for him and his family, but I am also selfish, and I want him to stay close. I don’t want him to move on and make this fabulous life without me, filled with people I don’t know. It was hard enough lending him to St. Louis for school! Either way, he knows that if he ever needs me, I will drive forever and ever to be there. I would hitchhike across America for that boy because he’s the one I love best. I love you, Bubby!