top of page


One of the earliest memories I have from my childhood is the day my brother was born, when I was only 2 years old. However, what I remember is not his birth, my relatives visiting, or anything of the sort. What I remember is getting a huge doll house as a present. On a day when everyone’s attention was on my brother, I was too focused on setting up my new pink kitchen. At that moment, I was confused as to why the sudden gift. About a month later, I would completely understand. 

My transition from only child to older sister was not an easy one. I would often regress to baby behaviors, in the hope of getting my parents’ attention and treatment like he did. When that didn’t work out, I’d resort to more extreme measures. Temper tantrums, whining and of course, shutting my brother out on every occasion. After all, I could never be his friend, he ruined my life! Took everything I had from me and looked very cute doing it. 

As we grew older, I began to notice that ignoring him was nearly impossible. He’d not only followed me everywhere, but also copied me on everything. Played the same sports I was interested in, listened to the same artists and even spoke like me. I never saw it as a compliment. I could only interpret it as a lack of authenticity and felt the most mature response was to look down on it. As if this behavior of his wasn’t enough, he also insisted on coming to me for every question that popped into his mind. For some reason, to him, I knew everything. Sometimes the questions were about random things only adults would understand, other times they were a bit more serious. For instance, when grandpa started getting worse, he’d sit by the side of my bed and ask me why he couldn’t remember his name anymore. I knew, but I didn’t tell him, of course. He would always be too little and innocent. He didn’t need to understand. 

As the years went by, my brother and I´s relationship oscillated, but never made great changes. The most significant shift we had was when we moved from Brazil to the United States, at just 8 and 10 years old. We found common ground through fear. At least for a while, we stuck together. The first year there we attended the same school, until my brother got bullied out of it. I made a promise to myself I would never not be aware of what was going on in his life and would do everything to protect him. And so I did. He never knew about all the kids I yelled at and scared away. I never wanted him to know any of it. I could never show him how much I cared. I kept this shield up all throughout our time in the States. During our last year living there, he took a month-long trip to Canada. I wrote him a letter almost every day; wishing him well, asking him how things were going, telling him all that happened at home while he was away. I never sent a single one.

In 2019, after 6 years of living in the States, my dad broke the news that we would be moving back to Brazil. At first, I took the news lightly, as I missed my hometown, old friends and family. It wasn’t until we got to São Paulo that it really hit me. As I opened the door to my new bedroom in my old apartment and saw nothing but blank walls, my heart dropped. An entire era of my life was over, every second of those last years had now been left behind. A feeling of despair arose within me. Although standing behind me, my brother knew the tears in my eyes.

We stepped inside the bedroom and sat on my bed. I laid my head on his chest like a child and couldn’t help but to cry. He was taken aback, not used to seeing me show any vulnerability at all. But he didn't say anything, he just held me. Tight. At that moment, all those years of seeing him as less than, of ridiculing his behaviors and disregarding his thoughts, came running down my throat and settled into my chest. A heavy, tense sensation that lived inside me had just now burst. My brother was the only person there. The only one who had been through it all with me. It was just me and him in each new world we stepped into, and every single time, he reached for my hand. Although it was never just my battle, he only ever tried to make it less painful for me. I had never let him until now. 

When came time to go to bed, he offered to sleep on my floor. I refused. He told me his door would be open if I needed anything. I thanked him, hoping he knew he had done more than enough. For the rest of that night, as I laid down in that dark, no longer familiar room, I thought back to every other time my brother made me feel at home. Like when he’d rent out movies I liked for us to watch, although he had no interest in them. When he’d bring me chocolate after I had had a fight with my dad. When he’d watch my basketball games and cheer louder than everyone else. When he’d leave notes by my door on days he knew I wouldn’t be able to leave my room. When I came out and he was the only one who didn’t ask any questions. He was the only one who listened and understood. My brother always took me as I was, never asked for anything other than myself. He also made sure I knew that.

I’m not sure I returned the favor. I try to everyday now.

Autoria: Nina Neves

Revisão: Ana Carolina Clauss, Laura Freitas

Imagem de capa: Foto própria da autora 


bottom of page