Humpty Dumpty: A Catalyst for Love

Humpty Dumpty:

A Catalyst for Love


Sarah B. Ghoshal



“Look, Sarah, just like when we were kids!”  My brother teetered at the top of the railing, red-faced and intoxicated.  This railing was 30 feet off the ground, wooden, shiny and just wide enough to support his skinny butt.  I started to yell to him not to slide down; after all, we weren’t kids anymore and he had had more than his share that night.  We were at this bar where the actual bar was upstairs and the downstairs was a hockey rink. Our team lost that night and the bar was inherently dangerous in its location.  And so it goes.


But then, he let go, his arms in the air with wild cliché and abandon.  Our friend Ron stood next to me, his jaw dropping in slow motion as Dylan wobbled, wiggled and fell thirty feet to the hardwood floor below.  I screamed as I watched his head hit the ground, as I realized he was unconscious, as I threw myself down next to him.  Then, I yelled at Ron to call 911 and to go get our friend Kevin from upstairs.  And I sat with my brother until the ambulance came, while the white-faced owners of the bar tried to get me to sign a waiver I would never sign.


It may have been in that moment that I first really understood love.  It wasn’t worry or concern; it wasn’t pity or fear.  What I felt most in that moment was love for my brother, and the unending emptiness of strangers around me asking if he was okay.  I understood love, and family, and the connection that exists when childhood swirls around you silently.  I understood my brother, a tall guy with a love for heavy metal and Jack Daniels, an HVAC guy who came home every night smelling like our father smelled before he died – like alcohol, dirt and sweat. On the outside, he is the epitome of middle class, central Jersey.  On the inside, he talks in baby talk to all dogs, petting them as if they personally cuddle him every night.  He worries about upsetting his friends but not enough to be on time for anything.  But most of all, he understands what it means to take care of those he loves, or at least be there when someone says, “The family needs you.” Even after I knew he was fine and that, with a bruised face, a bruised ego and a tender head, I would take him home, I couldn’t stop wondering, “What if I no longer had anyone to watch Yankees games with?”


It could have been the car ride home from the hospital, with his purple face and his hoarse voice, that made me realize that love was real, that it did not just exist in the Nora Roberts novels I fell asleep holding at night.  Love was not limited to romance, or even to budding teenage crushes and stories of princesses who can only be awakened by one man in a world of many men. Love was actually staring me in the face. I was a lonely, single girl, driving my banged up brother to our mother’s house in the middle of the night and all I could think of was how important love actually was, and, strangely enough, about Ron standing there, outside the hospital boundaries of Family-Only, waiting to make sure we were both okay.  I knew then, that something had turned on inside of me.


So what does love mean? I think it means what I have right now.  A relationship that was originally built on mutual love and concern, that has blossomed into my marriage.  A relationship that began as a secret, kept from my brother, Ron’s best friend.  A marriage that has taught me about myself, my talents, my faults and my tendency toward the dramatic.  It all began on a trip into the unknown, a moment of realization and attraction trapped inside a bubble of fear. That fateful night, I stood in the hospital, 20 feet away from the door, watching Ron outside, waiting.  And I knew that the first chance I got, I was going to get that guy. 


Can I attribute my entire relationship to the night my brother fell off of a 30 foot high railing? No, not really.  We are a complicated and passionate couple, capable of loving one another more than I knew was even possible. But in that moment, as Dylan flew through the air, I understood what it meant to love someone so much you watch their mistakes in slow motion and play them back for years wondering, “What if he hadn’t wobbled?”  I wanted to grasp onto life like the handlebars of my childhood bicycle and move forward with the gut instinct that gripped me every time I looked at Ron’s perfectly angled face, every time I heard him drive up in his beat up Dodge Intrepid, every time I thought of what it might be like if he came beating down my door until I ran into his arms in a flowing dress that only Juliet would wear.  Maybe these fantasies had been dormant, maybe they had always been there and I just never allowed myself to fall in love with my brother’s best friend, but that night, the millionth time I looked at Ron’s face, I understood storybooks and love at first sight.  I was seeing him for the first time, with my brother moaning in a hospital room down the hall.


I didn’t know that six years later, we would stand on a beach in the Bahamas in front of 41 people and say our vows. I didn’t know that he would propose next to a view of the New York City skyline that I can still see in my dreams, or that we would get through problems in our relationship that would make us that much stronger, even as newlyweds.  I didn’t know that the dog I found on the side of the road in college would adopt him as his daddy, rolling over to show his pink belly every time Ron entered the room. I just knew that I wanted to watch his mistakes in slow motion and play them back for years, our bubble of fear popped in the background, my little brother an unknowing catalyst in the often confusing game we call life.