Thursday, September 16, 2010
On Saturday, I went to sleep and dreamed. I saw a raining gray sky and my brother, the middle one Neil was there with me. He was waiting for a bus. I gave him money and balled it up tightly into his hand. Then I got into a car and drove away. It struck me while I was driving that wait, what I was doing? I could drive him where he needed to be! I turned around and drove back to the bus stop and parked. I got out of the car. He was gone and the skies continued to pour down on me, soaking in that gray sky.
I woke up on Sunday to my parents calling me. I ignored the call because it was 7am. My apartment doesn't get very good cell reception service either so if I did answer, I'd lose them before I even said hello. I called them back around 10am. In my experience, when they call at early hours it can only mean bad things have happened.
My Mom told me my brother Neil had been hit by a car. He was riding his bike and crossing at the crosswalk. An old woman hit him, not paying attention to what was in front of her. He hit the windshield and cracked it to shreds. Luckily, he was only a block away from my parents' house. Our neighbors went to go get my parents and they all went in an ambulance to the hospital. He stayed there where the doctors put a neck brace on him and ran tests to be sure he wasn't suffering from any brain clots or internal bleeding.
He's quite fine now. He went to school on Monday and everything. In a very strange way, it was as if it never happened. Though since the police ticketed the woman and my parents are resorting to legal action with an attorney, it did. I spoke to Neil on the phone briefly where he said he felt fine and hoped to see me for Christmas. I felt lumpy in my throat and told him, "We'll see." about the holidays. I can't go home though. I don't get the vacation time for it from work.
This is the second significant time I know I've disappointed my brother. I have three brothers, Earl, Neil, and Ethan. All younger than. There is a two year age gap between Earl and I, and 10 years with Neil, 12 with Ethan. The first time I disappointed my brother, it was Earl. I was 13 at the time and in my tweenager, angry phase. The phase I went through where I would come home and throw everything in my room for no reason but to throw things. Earl and I used to play with stuffed animals together and would take them on adventures as children. We were very close. Once I remember having a terrible nightmare and running to his room where he slept and I sat on the edge of the bed, still scared, but close to him so I knew nothing would touch me. So, Earl at 11, comes to my door with his arms full of stuffed animals and eagerly calls out to me, "Hey Heather, want to play?" with a big wide grin on his face.
"No!" I shouted back, enraged, "I'm too old for that. Leave me alone!"
I'll never forget the look on his face in my entire life. It was the most crestfallen expression, so lost. He saw in that moment that I was growing up, even though I feel like for my entire life I've been forever growing up. With his hands still full of stuffed friends, he turned and went back to his room.
If my future self could have, she would have slapped me across the face and screamed at me. Life is too precious, too short, and too full of sadness and the loss of innocence for me to have behaved like that. But I did. I kept it up for too long with all of them. Sometimes I'm so ashamed of how horrible of a person I was then that I can't even look at myself in the mirror. I want to smash the glass. For as much as I try to make everything look just right on the outside, I'm just a mess on the inside, swimming in a sea of regret and wondering just how much longer it will be before I drown in the memories of the sea. The good thing is that my brothers are forgiving and I am learning and have learned over the years how to stop being my own number one priority and put everyone before me. It's a much better me these days than the old girl I used to be.
My brothers and I are all quite the same and different at the same time. Earl loves video games and is the military right now where he's growing up into a man. Neil loves to bike and idolizes skateboard legends. Ethan is deeply immersed in art and music at all times. We all move to the beat of our own drums and seek comfort in the arms of one favorite stuffed toy, something that will most likely hold true with all of us no matter how we age. We all tell jokes with each other and love to make one another laugh until tears flow. I am fiercely protective of them, especially Earl. When I was in middle school, I threw a boy up against a wall after a church Sunday school service for teasing him. My all-black wardrobe at the time scared everyone in the grades below me and this boy was no exception. Earl with his eyes shining, thought it was the coolest thing ever. I used to dream of saving him when I was little, running and pulling him out of harm's way just in time. The older I got, and the more he began to stick up for himself, the less I dreamt like that. But the feeling never left. I'd sacrifice myself for any one of them in a heartbeat. In no way is my life ever more precious than theirs. Simply no way.
Last summer, my parents and I decided that if something should ever happen and they were to die suddenly in an accident or otherwise, I would be the legal guardian for Neil and Ethan. (With responsibilities for Earl, but he's only 3 months from being an adult so he isn't considered to be part of this responsibility pile.) Sometimes I wonder about this. It would change my life forever if something happened to them. What would I do? Would I get on a plane and go home, sell the house, lock everything into a storage unit and take them back to California with me to move into a different apartment? Would I just move home and live in the memories like a modern-day Miss Havisham? Would I sell everything and move the three of us somewhere new to start over fresh where nobody knew who we were? A different state? Or a different country? I don't know and I hope I am never in the position of losing both of my parents to find out. Nobody knows how they'll act in a different circumstance until the moment hits them and then they have to find out in that moment.
Anyway, the point of this post is just to say I love my brothers very much. I know I have a funny way of showing love, but when I say it, I always mean it truly and fully. I don't say it often, but I should start. Because I love too many people in my life to never let them know how much I do.
If you're reading this, and I know you, I love you.
If you're reading this, and I don't know you and never met you or maybe we met once or twice or three times but I forgot your name or I can't place you for the life of me, I still love you.
And if you're reading this and you're related to me, know that the sea of regret I used to swim in, I have since parted. I sail on my new sea of understanding and quiet love for all of you.
Forever until forever.
Love to you all,
P.S. This was a very difficult post to write.