My brother

by Anna Maria Cos Alcantara

Growing up, my brother Pirkko was the ultimate tease. He’s the middle child – and like the stereotypical middle child, he always got in trouble, he would tease me a lot to the point that I would cry, and always somehow would get me in trouble even if it was really his fault. We didn’t get along very well growing up because of it. One Christmas, he got me to think that he was getting me an iPhone for Christmas, when really, he just got me an iPhone box with some pens inside.

As we both got a bit older, we started getting along a little bit better. We started having nice conversations where we started opening up to each other, and would even give each other advice. Because of all those conversations that we had every time we got stuck in traffic on the way home, my love and appreciation for him grew. More than being just my brother, it was nice to see that I found a friend in him.

As I look back I realized that I unconsciously found myself wanting to be like him and do the things that he was doing. I saw how Pirkko would always be the life of the party – and so I also tried to be more sociable and interact a little bit more with people whenever I go out. He was always traveling on his own or he would stay with family friends outside of the country – and so when I was old enough I asked my parents if I could do the same. I saw how Pirkko always knew what he wanted to do with his life – and so when I finally had the courage to step out of my comfort zone, I went out and took a leap of faith in taking a job in an industry that I knew close to nothing about, but always dreamed of anyway.

No matter how much I tried to embody him in my life, I’ve come to realize that if it weren’t for Pirkko, I wouldn’t have learned to be my own person as well. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have learned to look out for myself, take care of myself, and stand up for myself. He taught me that I had a voice and that I should use it wisely, and at the same time, he taught me that sometimes there’s also strength in keeping your silence and let things fall where they may.

I used to think that Pirkko was up to no good, but it was in his strong independence and strong sense of self that made him stand out in the crowd. I now realize that there’s a reason why you can’t really expect him to stay put in one place – it’s because he’s always trying to expose himself to different people and different places so that he can take home with him the new things he has learned and share it to those around him.

This holiday season, for the first time in my entire life, he has celebrated away from us. He actually celebrated the holidays with our uncle in Zurich. Personally, I probably couldn’t imagine myself being away from family during the holidays. On the other hand, my brother is a very independent, strong-willed man, and that’s the very reason why we’re not too worried about him. As hard-headed as he may seem, he’s actually someone that we can all look up to when it comes to living a life well-lived.

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