…our most constant and enduring relationships are with our siblings. After all, they’re the ones who stick around our whole lives — even when we are complete trainwrecks.
It rained one day when my brother was three and I was eight and he told me the scent the April shower left behind smelled like God. When I was 13 and he was eight I rolled my dark brown eyes every time someone noted we looked nothing like each other because of his baby blues. I’m the oldest, one brother, one sister – but she looks more like our dad’s side of the family with strong cheek bones and a lean build. She has brown eyes too but the ways in which I look nothing like my brother mimics the ways I’m nothing like my sister. She fits in with the popular crowd and he gets test anxiety and I’m quiet and a little bit clumsy. We all have short tempers. I admire them both from afar as we grow up in the same house but not together.
When we are 23 and 18 our grandmother dies. I am home for the funeral but I’m high on enough hydrocodone I don’t have to feel it. I wasn’t there when the casket was lowered into the cold earth but my brother tossed in a rose for me. It was almost symbolic because that death buried a part of me with it. We saw our father sob for the first time in our lives and I think it snapped the final string between my brother’s heart and mine. I stopped writing for a while. He discovered how to get high like he’d never done it before.
At 25 and 20 the distance only grows between us. I see my brother less and less and every time I see him there is less and less to see. Skin stretched taught, bloodshot eyes, shaved head. He is a shadow of the boy that grew up with my sister while I admired them from a safe distance. He is late to family get-togethers and holidays and at Christmas he will ask for money and I will tell him no and then he will say words he thinks are only words but they are shards of glass that pierce my mother’s heart, sharp and slow.
I have this nightmare about the future — sometimes you take too many pills, sometimes you gently carve roses into your wrists, sometimes you’re just gone but the EMTs bring you back and you think you’ll be happier on the west coast but never go and you say you don’t have a problem but everyone knows and my biggest regret is not calling you on Tuesday nights when things are slow. I should mention again I have a sister who dreminds me of sandpaper, her moods scraping against us and everyone else. She is a storm and I am the fog that settles outside your window and my brother is a boy you can’t help but want to come home.
How much it hurts to love will never compare to the chance we have every day we wake up and choose to do it.