When we are young, doors hold an ethereal mysteriousness. They are portals, real-life portals. You walk through in one place and come out in another, I mean, for the mind of a child, if that’s not magic, I cannot tell you what is.
But while the young mind’s perception of these mystifying gateways can be magical, it can be equally horrifying.
When you’re young, a door’s sheer size can be overwhelming. You lack the height to reach any door knob and thus you are at the whim of others whether you will be allowed to cross each threshold.
Maybe this was why I felt so powerless staring up at our own door on that frigid December night.
I was always a very perceptive child, and though I had not been told exactly what was happening (for I was only 3), I knew that whatever had happened to my baby brother was not good.
I wanted to follow my parents as they whisked my brother away to the hospital.
I wanted to hold my brother’s hand and help him be brave.
I wanted to be the big brother I knew I could be.
But that door had been closed behind them, and I stood helpless at its feet.
My grandmother tried desperately to distract me with my favorite board game ‘Duck Duck Goose’ and with Scooby-Doo shaped mac n’ cheese but to no avail, for my mind could drift only to that ornate design on our inordinate door.
The last thing I can clearly recall from that night was sitting before the door, drowsy but determined, forcing my eyelids to stay open for as long as they could so that I could see my baby brother return from the realm which sat just beyond.
He did not return that night.
Or the night after that.
It was many years before I learned what had happened. My two year-old brother had suffered from an unexpected seizure, one which wiped everything from his brain.
Breathing, eating, laughing; all gone within a second.
Thankfully my parents had gotten him to the doctor just in time, and he stayed alive…
But for how long?
My parents went to nearly every doctor in the area, crossing threshold after threshold to enter the same realm: hopelessness. My brother would not survive past that Christmas.
“Well that won’t do,” my aunt famously said, “because I’m taking him to Disney for his 10th birthday.”
After endless days of fluctuating hope, I am ecstatic to report that my baby brother Evan just turned 17.
And though every day is a new door, an overwhelmingly enormous portal to who knows where, we now cross each threshold together.
When we stepped aboard that plane to Disney on Evan’s 10th birthday, with a young boy who was still re-learning words that he had known when he was two, we were no longer afraid.
Because all of us were there with him.
And no door was going to separate us ever again.