I'm sitting here watching Oli and my 'other' son (my best friend's son, who for the last few years has been my 'middle child') play. Gee it brings back some memories.
Samuel and Oliver were never a perfect fit. There were just too many years between them. When Ollie was a baby, Sam was 8, 9...just finding his little place in the world. When Oliver was old enough to be an interesting little brother, Sam was heading into his teens, and absolutely uninterested in a pesky little brother.
Don't get me wrong, they did have their moments. I didn't tend to let Sam get away with ignoring Oliver all together, and when I gave him the choice of 'play with Oliver or do the jobs I would not be doing if I was playing with Oliver', he always chose to play with him.
And properly motivated, Samuel did play well. He taught Oliver to play board games like Headache, Mastermind and Battleship, as well as a variety of card games. He played hide and seek and went out riding in the street with Ollie. He caught animals for Oliver to touch and see up close, and he showed Oliver how to draw cool pictures. He built amazing lego spaceships (that were sometimes 'hands off', but not always) and played video games with Ollie.
I've noticed that Ollie's been feeling a bit lonely lately. I know that some of it is the reality of losing his brother sinking in. The knowledge that even though Sam did his fair share of tormenting, he was still a pretty awesome big brother. He's been very aware of death and illness and stills asks questions similar to this one, but it's more the loneliness that makes me sad. He always wants to be around me or Anthony, and likes having friends around. He's always asking if one of them can come over (or if he can go there), and gets really excited about visiting my mum and dad, or when J (the middle child) comes around.
As I write this, Ollie and J have been arguing, wrestling and carrying on just like brothers. The trouble with both of them is that they're both used to being alone and getting their own way, which makes it an interesting combination. But it's a nice one. It's nice to know that even though Ollie has lost his brother, he's still got someone who he can share that brotherly bond with.