Big Brother

    “Big Brother,” Friend, Jan. 1993, 2

    Big Brother

    Marriage is ordained of God (D&C 49:15).

    Andrew stood in front of the mirror and scowled at himself. He decided he looked stupid. Who wanted to wear a tie anyway? “I feel like I’m choking,” he said to his dad.

    “Loosen your tie,” said Dad. “Maybe you have it on too tight.”

    Andrew slid his finger between his collar and the knot of the tie and pulled. He still felt like he was choking. “How come Amanda has to get married, anyway?”

    “Because that’s what little girls do when they grow up,” Dad said. “Come on, Sport, it’s time to go. We don’t want to be late for your sister’s wedding. You look fine.”

    In the car, Andrew slumped down in the seat until his chin was nearly resting on his chest, and stared straight ahead. This morning Amanda had been in the bathroom for what seemed like nine hours. He had heard her singing “Families Can Be Together Forever,” and when she got to the part that goes “I want to marry in God’s temple for all eternity,” she sang really loud.

    Andrew tugged at his tie again, and a mean, mad feeling settled in his chest. If families are supposed to be together forever, why did Amanda want to leave them and marry Brad? She wasn’t even riding to the temple with the family. Brad had come earlier to get her, and she had gone with him. She hadn’t even waved good-bye.

    “Here we are,” Dad said, stopping the car. Andrew got out slowly. He could see a carpet of grass a little way up the hill, then flowers, and at the top, the Jordan River Temple. The statue of the Angel Moroni on the spire shone golden in the sunlight.

    “Andrew,” Mom said, “let’s go. Do you have your Friend to read?”

    “Yes,” he said. They walked together up the sidewalk, and the temple seemed to get taller and whiter with every step. He wished that Amanda was with them. She would’ve been holding his hand or fixing his collar or pointing to the ducks that were waddling across the lawn.

    The temple doors opened silently, and they stepped inside. A woman in a long white dress was standing there smiling. “Welcome,” she said quietly.

    “Good morning, Sister,” said Dad. “We’re here for the Smithton–Peters wedding. Is it all right if my son sits in the waiting room? His cousin will be here soon to sit with him.”

    “Yes,” said the woman. “I’ll get him settled while you go on in.” She put her hand on Andrew’s shoulder and led him to a glassed-in room full of chairs and sofas. “Here we are,” she said. “We have lots of chairs, so choose any one you want. Change chairs every five minutes if you like. I’ve sat in all of them myself, and they’re all comfortable.” She told him that if he needed anything, to let her know, then went back to the door to greet people.

    “Great,” Andrew grumbled quietly. “Here I am by myself. I’m just the little brother, and no one cares, anyway.” He plopped himself on a soft chair. He didn’t even want to read. He just felt left out and sorry for himself. He closed his eyes.

    The door to the waiting room opened, and he heard someone come in and sit down on the chair next to him. “Hey, Andy,” his cousin Ernie whispered.

    Andrew opened his eyes. “You look funny in a suit.”

    “Thanks.” Ernie looked at Andrew for a minute. “What’s the matter, man?”

    “How come we don’t get to go in?” Andrew scowled, looking through the glass wall at men in white suits, sitting at a desk and checking people’s recommends.

    “We’re not old enough yet.”

    “How come we have to be old enough?”

    “For the same reason you have to be eight to be baptized and twelve to get the priesthood and nineteen to go on a mission. You have to be old enough to understand things.”

    That made sense. Andrew didn’t understand lots of things—like why Amanda wanted to leave their family. He still felt mad. “I don’t know why Amanda wants to get married at all,” he said. “She never even talks to me anymore.”

    Ernie grinned. “Jealous, huh? Think she won’t love you anymore?”

    Andrew shrugged, but he did think that a little bit. She hadn’t had time to take him to the library or out for ice cream or anything lately because she was always with Brad or doing something for the wedding.

    Ernie picked up a copy of the Book of Mormon that was on a table and started to read. Andrew knew that he was trying to get ready for his mission, so he didn’t bother him. Instead, he watched the second hand sweep around and around the face of a wall clock. When he watched the seconds, the minutes seemed to go faster.

    He wondered what his sister was doing. He wondered if she would even think about him at all.

    Next he watched people coming into the temple, all of them dressed in Church clothes and most of them carrying little suitcases. His dad had told him that the suitcases had white clothes in them because everyone wears white in the temple, like the lady by the door. She was still smiling at everyone who came in.

    Andrew had never been in such a quiet place. It was even quieter than church because there were no babies crying or loud talking. People even seemed to walk more quietly. The longer he listened to the stillness, the quieter he felt. His tie didn’t choke him anymore, and he let his shoulders relax against the back of the chair. It was nice to not feel mad for a while. The second hand on the clock kept sweeping around.

    “Ernie,” he whispered, “why is it so quiet? Why do I feel good in here?”

    Ernie looked up from the scriptures and smiled. “Remember how you felt after you got baptized and confirmed?” Andrew nodded. “How you felt warm and good and quiet because the Holy Ghost was there?” Andrew nodded again. “Well, since this is Heavenly Father’s house, His Spirit is here all the time. That’s why it feels good.”

    “I like it,” whispered Andrew.

    “So do I.” Ernie bent his head over his book again.

    Andrew closed his eyes. He wondered if the feeling was even stronger inside the temple than it was by the front door.

    “Hey, Andy,” Ernie said, bumping his shoulder against Andrew’s, “they’re coming out.”

    Andrew opened his eyes. The foyer was filled with people he knew—aunts and uncles, his grandparents, his mom and dad. Brad’s mom and dad—but he couldn’t see Amanda.

    “Let’s go outside and wait for them, OK?” said Ernie.

    In the bright sunshine, Andrew looked at the water fountain in front of the temple. He stood on one foot, then the other and wondered if Amanda would ever come out. Maybe she’d forgotten all about him.

    He looked up and saw her coming. Brad was holding her hand, and in her other hand, she had a bunch of pink flowers. She was still dressed in white, and they both looked so happy that they almost glowed.

    “Andrew,” Amanda called. Pulling Brad over to where Andrew stood, she bent down and hugged him. Andrew just stood there for a moment. Then he put his arms around her and hugged back. Her hair tickled his nose.

    “I love you,” Amanda said.

    “You do? I thought you loved Brad more than me.”

    Amanda looked surprised. “I do love Brad,” she said. “But you’re still the only little brother I have.”

    Brad reached out and messed up Andrew’s hair. “Guess you’re my brother now too.”

    Andrew squinted up at Brad. “You’re part of my family now?” He hadn’t thought about it that way.

    “Sure,” laughed Brad, “and since families are forever, I hope you like me. Think I’ll make a good big brother?”

    Andrew had never had a big brother before. It might be fun. “Sure!” He wanted to laugh and sing and dance. Instead, he stepped back, looked up to where the statue of Moroni was, and smiled.

    Illustrated by Jerry Harston