Wednesday, January 25, 2012


My brother (let's call him "B") and I were born nineteen months apart. I'm May, he's October. He was born at 12:53am, I at 12:53pm. Our older sister had brown hair and brown eyes. Our older brother has blonde hair and blue eyes. But B and I, we both have brown hair and green eyes. Hazel, most of the time, really, just like our Dad.

When B and I were little, my Mom said people asked her a lot if we were twins. We weren't, of course, but she said we did have our own language. Some sort of toddler banter that clearly meant something to us, because we babbled with great purpose and enthusiasm.

We grew up tight, as some siblings do. And by "tight" I mean he used to tease me until I screamed, then I'd get in trouble for getting our Mom all bunched up and he'd laugh until he peed. Or he would sit on me, pin my arms down, and tickle me until I wished I could either pass out or shout "Wonder Twin Powers - ACTIVATE! Shape of...ICE! Form of...FIRE!", in which case my superpowers would kick in, making him freeze and then burn into nothingness, and then I could never be tickled again and I would get my own room. I remember Batman spray soap in the tub and waking each other up on Christmas morning, and I remember kneeling in front of the couch with him as he taught me how to read. I remember us streaking through the living room while my parents tried to watch the news, and I remember him hitting his knee and falling down, which of course made me laugh until I peed, because I laugh when people fall and get hurt. (Stop it. You do too, and if you don't, well then, there's one thing we don't have in common. Because I think that shit is laugh out loud funny, every time.)

B and I came up through the same elementary school, middle school and high school. We went through times where he secretly dated my friends, then not-so-secretly told his friends never, ever to date me. We went to the same college, though we didn't overlap much during those years, but by then it didn't matter. I knew him better than anyone and I loved him absolutely.

We lived several years like that, not connected at the hip, rather at the soul. We still spoke that language our Mom talked about. Sometimes one look told a whole joke. We were on each other's team, unconditionally and without a doubt. I stood in his wedding; he stood in mine. He gave his only daughter my middle name, and he gave his middle name to his only son. Watching the two of them was like watching ourselves as kids.

And then more time passed. Hearts were broken. Happy fantasy twisted and morphed into harsh reality. Life changed. Sad things that happen to lots of people happened to him too. But rather than recover from those things, he let rage and defeat in, and he let them win.

He is not the boy I grew up with, or the man I watched that boy grow into. He is changed. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to pull him back, make him laugh, remind him of who he still is, and who still loves him, and what life has to offer in the short time we get to enjoy it.

And then, 267 days ago, I stopped trying. I remember it because it was the day before my birthday. Five days before the anniversary of our sister's death. Six days before Mother's Day. An emotionally charged week at best. I stopped trying, because in his last communication with me, his words scratched at my surface until I was raw, and hurt, and mad as hell. I can't seem to heal. Still, when I close my hazel eyes, I see his. And I still feel I know him. It's a bad connection now, with damaged wires, but if I'm really quiet I can still hear his voice.

I can't decide if that makes it better or worse. I can't decide if I'm delusional or if I really do still know him underneath it all. I can't figure out how to let go, or if I should.

What I do know is that I feel like I've now lost not one, but two siblings. And I am filled with double the regret, double the heartbreak, double the void. Every time I think about how I feel, I consider how my parents feel. Then I think about how all three of us feel like we gave everything we are and everything we have to someone who set it all on fire and threw it back in our faces with a great big fuck you to top it off. 

Maybe if I were a guy, I would just go over to his house, knock on the door, and sock him in his eye. But I'm not. I'm a girl, a woman, a little sister. The ovaries tremble with this one and it makes things complicated for me. It's harder to move on because I've already had to say goodbye once before and everything in me says to fight harder for this one.


I can't seem to find the ribbon I need to tie this one up with a pretty bow. And I hope reading this isn't like trying to work a jigsaw puzzle in the dark for you. I realize there are a lot of missing pieces and shapes that only I know how to fit together. I'm sure I'll touch on the subject of B again down the road, but for now, I guess I'll say the silver lining on this one is still buried under a hula hoop and a half-eaten volleyball in the backyard.

Maybe when Spring comes around things will look brighter. Maybe I'll forget about time lost. And maybe, just maybe, I will get the chance to forgive words spoken from a broken heart and start speaking that long lost language again instead. It could happen, right? Spring is totally a time of renewal, plus all those April showers are sure to wash the debris in the yard away and let the silver lining shine through. 

It's a new year after all. And 267 days is a long time, but I'm a patient girl. Speaking of girls...what did Nine say again? My 2012 mantra? Maybe if I write it, it will start to feel true.

I have hope! I believe! 


  1. I am here via (Using Your Words) our mutual friend. I just lost my big brother late last year. it was the single most emotional experience i have ever had. And I've been through a lot, including the year before my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Don't give up hope - if you were joined at the souls, then it will come back. i wish you well.

  2. See? No matter what difficult thing I'm handling, there's always someone who shows me it can be so much worse. Thank you for reminding me that the situation might suck, but there is a chance it can change. I appreciate you sharing with me and for reading along. I will have hope. And I wish you well, and as much peace as you can muster with the year you've had.

  3. I share your pain... my sister, who has bipolar disorder, hasn't spoken with me for almost exactly a year. I love her, and miss her so much, and can't believe she can just walk away from 30+ years of shared history and being a wonderful aunt to my kids, who I thought she truly loved. But I have to believe it's her illness, and not her, and try to just move on and focus on my husband, kids, and friends.

    I'm so sorry for us both.

  4. Ouch. I'm not ruling a disorder like that out in my case either, I just don't know. He has certainly become another man, one that I never, ever thought he would be. I've seen illness change people before though, so maybe that's the culprit in this case too. There has to be a reason why he is suddenly unable to see the light of day, something besides him being unwilling. I'm sorry for you too. Life is a wild ride.

  5. wow, that's powerful. it is clear that you are working through your pain, which will eventually allow you for forgive him. it might be good to separate your forgiveness for him from the potential of reestablishing your relationship. forgiveness can open your heart, but reconnecting before he is ready might just allow him to reopen the wounds.

    from Jack Kornfield, who taught me so much about forgiveness:
    Forgiveness is the capacity to let go, to release the suffering, the sorrows, the burdens of the pains and betrayals of the past, and instead to choose the mystery of love. Forgiveness shifts us from the small separate sense of ourselves to a capacity to renew, to let go, to live in love. As the Bhagavad Gita says, “If you want to see the brave, look to those who can return love for hatred. If you want to see the heroic, look to those who can forgive.”

    I am seeking that braveness's so hard.

  6. I am hoping to get to a place where I can open my heart and forgive. At this point forgiveness feels like a betrayal of my parents. Tough spot. And at the same time, I still want him back so bad. Huh. Thanks for sharing the Jack Kornfield quote, it's lovely. I'll have to look him up.