Fifteen years ago today I was ten and practicing with the Rutgers youth swim team when my mother came to the edge of the pool and told me that we had to leave because she was going to give birth to my brother. I couldn't stop staring at the contour of her belly sandwiched between her and the wheel as we drove the thirty miles to Somerville Memorial Hospital, my bathing suit still wet under my clothes. When we pulled up to the hospital, my mother was hurried off by my father and hospital staff. I remember my father yelling over his shoulder, "Hey kids! Soon there will be three of you!" My parent's friend, Tom Meagher, drove us to his house and I have no idea what we did there, but it wasn't for very long. My father picked us up and we drove back to the hospital where Will and I were allowed to hold our small red wrinkly brother, less than 6 hours into the world.
When I left home for college, Dennis was still only eight years old. What's interesting about this is that between the two of us we may have a complete memory of the past 15 years with very little overlapping-- I remember his youngest years and he knows his older ones. I know our family as 5 people living together and he knows our family as 4 (and now 3, since Will moved out this past September). Dennis, like my father, like me, is a historian too, and a witness, like my parents, to the unit of family confounding with change, an event I am only provisionally aware of. When I go home, it seems like everyone is still there.