I loved him. He was my brother. But there were times I wanted to kill him. Like when he was fourteen and burned down the vacant house up the street. When he broke into schools to steal pencils and erasers. When the cops came knocking on our door. When he made my mother cry. When he cussed me on the phone at three in the morning. When he stole from my husband. When he’d abandon his wife and kids for days. When his promises went up in smoke. When he shook his fist in my dad’s face and called him an old man; the same old man who bailed him out of trouble a million times over; the same old man that he never saw again after that. Didn’t even go to the funeral.
Drugs were his food. Alcohol was his water. Prison was his home.
Addicted to a life of thrills and chills, he was a living, breathing hurricane of total destruction in the lives he touched. Truth was a foreign language. Denial was a constant companion. Honesty was as fake as a two-headed dragon.
Why? Why was he so bent on self-destruction? What was so enthralling about running from the cops or living in the woods or spinning tails that even the devil couldn’t believe? Why did he think he was so entitled to do whatever he pleased regardless of the cost to society, to his family, to himself?
Why didn’t he do something constructive with his art, his poetry, and writing? He was brilliant. He could have flown as high as an eagle but chose to wallow in the mud like a pig. Why?
I don’t know. I just know that while he was high on drugs and living a life of crime I was wishing I had a brother I could depend on. A brother I could talk to. A brother I could trust. I was wishing he would straighten up before it was too late. I was wishing he would remove the blindfolds and see how much I loved him.
A few days before Thanksgiving 2014 we had a screaming match over the phone. I hung up on him, wishing he was in front of me so I could smack him upside the head. A few days later he called back. As always, I accepted his apology. The day after Thanksgiving, he was found dead in his apartment.
He was sixty-three.
It still hurts. I still miss him. I still wish he had chosen a sensible life. And regardless of the things he had done, the people he had hurt, the destruction he caused, I loved him. I loved him then. I love him now. I’ll love him till I die. He was my little brother and now he’s gone.
So I sit here, barely able to see the screen through my tears, wishing I could hear his voice once more. Wishing I could tell him I’m praying for him once more. Wishing I could convince him to change his ways before it’s too late . . . once more. Now, I can only hope that he did.