Thursday, September 16, 2010

Brothers



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,
Heather

P.S. This was a very difficult post to write.

11 comments:

danielle and dinosaur toes said...

i'm so sorry to hear about your brother, but i'm glad he's doing okay.

i have such a strong, deep love for my brother that i often feel people can't understand it. we were always best friends, and now that we've been living 6 hours apart for 6 years, it's been really tough. as far as the responsibilities go, if you found yourself in the situation where you had to be a mother to them, you'd do a great job. my brother and i weren't blessed with the best parents (although my dad has really been working on it lately), so derek (my brother) needed a place to live his last two years in high school, and although i knew it would be a challenge being a mom to my brother, it was one i accepted without even thinking. it was stressful, but i would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

sorry to write a book for a comment, but i can absolutely understand the love you feel for your brothers, and i can also understand you feeling protective over them (i've always been smaller than everyone else, but one time when some bully was picking on derek, i told that person i'd beat them up worse than they could ever imagin if they didn't leave derek alone, and i learned then that it isn't size that intimidates, it's attitude).

Martina said...

Lovely post Heather! Hope you have a lovely weekend, take care!

Carissa said...

oh my god heather you nearly gave me a heart attack. I'm SO glad you're brother is alright. my older brother died in a car accident so I jump to the worst conclusion I guess. I do have a younger brother, too. so I know where you're coming from. it is hard for me to tell my brother, to show him, how much I love him. we aren't very close but growing up in our dysfunctional family, we get each other. still, it's only in those really tough times, where I see him falling, needing someone to be there for him, that I can actually tell him how important he is to me. that I wouldn't want to lose him, too. I should say it everyday right? but for some reason we're just not like that. but I know he knows. and I know my older brother did too. so that's all that matters.

sorry for this crazy comment. but just want to say thanks for sharing. xoxo

Amber said...

There are so many tiny but still hurtful things that I've said or done to my family. Things that I've immediately regretted but for some reason didn't apologize for. I think it's just a part of life. Maybe that's a cop out. Anyway, if you disappoint someone and are able to recognize that and feel bad about that, I think it shows that you're a good person, inherently. The next step is to try to make up for the mistake or show that person how much you really do appreciate them.

I'm glad that your brother is all right.

Dancing Branflake said...

Goodness, I am so glad your brother is okay! How very scary.
And it is so touching to see how much you obviously love your brothers. I know you try to do it all but sometimes circumstances don't allow to show our love fully. But life always has second chances and siblings tend to have amnesia. Otherwise how else could you explain the love of siblings after years of torture, torment, and teasings?

Alison said...

I'm so glad to hear that your brother is going to be okay! I can't imagine how terrifying the accident must have been for you and your family. I hope everything works out with your family and the motorist.

yours truly dear said...

oh my gosh i'm glad your brother is ok. and you know what, we all do things within our family that we wish we could take back. all you can do about it is be the best you can be right now. thanks for sharing such a personal post. ♥

Andrew Green said...

That's a well-told story....
I remember I was about 12 or so when I started blowing off my sister. We're still not very close at all. I talk to her maybe four times a year. It's kind of sad.

I guess a lot of families are like that.

Jo said...

First, I'm sorry about what happened to your brother....and so glad he's alright!

You are so connected to your brothers. It's a really beautiful thing. I have a brother who I love more than anything....the dreams, the thoughts and "what ifs", I get it.

It took a lot of strength to write this amazing post....thank you. Sincerely.

Hiking in Stilettos said...

I am just now reading this and it is simultaneously heart breaking and incredibly uplifting. I am so very glad that Neil is okay.

I think we all have our own seas of memories and regrets from our younger days. Unfortunately, it takes some growing up to really recognize and understand the vast importance of family. We often take them for granted, especially during those angry teen years.

In the years to come, hold them close, tell them exactly how much you love them, and never forget what they mean to you and who they are.

Much love.

Sam said...

I'm really sorry about your brother. For some strange reason, maybe it was because you were writing about something that is close to your heart, your words touched me. I felt sad.
I also felt a bit comforted because I feel those very things about myself that you just talked about. I dont have brothers but I do have an elder sister and it makes me SO sad to acceot the fact that we're not close. I envy your relationship :) I hope everything goes well with you and your brothers and everything else.

Even though this is the second time Im visiting your blog, I really like your writing and youre DEFINITELY A COOL KID.
Anywaaay. Bye now. :)

-Sam <3