An Open Letter to My Brother
You probably don’t know this, but it was pouring rain the night you were born. A couple hours after Mom left to go to the hospital, part of our roof caved in.
I was super awkward as a 14-year old around a baby. I thought you were cool, but I didn’t really get it. Of course, I didn’t have much to go on regarding what being a baby was like, or honestly what being in a family was supposed to be like. And, we didn’t get much time to sort out the situation, because a bit over a year after you were born, Mom pinned a $20 bill on my collar and put me on a bus to Ohio.1
We’ve had a rough go of things over the years.
I felt guilty at times after getting to Ohio. Florida had been some of2 years of my life. Ohio was far, far too good to me for the most part. I got to live in a family like everyone deserves- like you deserved.
Then, three years later, you were here! We got a place together. We had motherfucking bunk beds. Shit was pretty cool for a bit. I was still super awkward, but for a bunch of other reasons than before. Then he happened again, and shit got real bad for me again. I did it myself this time, but I broke out again.
I was still a kid, except now I had to control myself and it didn’t go very well. Or maybe it did, considering? I managed like an 8-year relationship, got apartments, mostly had jobs. I failed at the getting a car / moving further into adulthood thing, and I didn’t maintain contact with you or mom. Part of it was because by then I knew that I had made some bad decisions that pretty much wrecked my life, but, as they say, shit happens. I wallowed.
And then Grandma died.
It’s maybe the shittiest, most true cliche out there, but nothing brings folks together like death. I saw the whole family for the first time in forever, and I became aware that bunches of shit had gone down. Not only did I get to hang out with you, but I got to haul you out to my place for some party time. It was pretty awesome. I had my dude back.
And then, by some magical twist of fate, you made the jump to me, rather than me making the jump away from you. I know that I was never close to the parent for you that Aunt Debbie and Uncle Joe had been for me. I still feel guilt for having used up that slot- I would have rather you got with them and I took up full-time residence at Arnette House. I can’t say ‘I tried my best’, because I spent so long feeling so inadequate, and I can pinpoint my dozens or hundreds of mistakes.3
My biggest and most consistent one was probably not nearly frequently enough pulling you over to me and just telling you that I loved you. I hope you at least had the idea, but I know I left a lot to be desired when it came to communicating emotions.
We lived in 5 different places in six years, but on the positive side, we did manage to keep it to two school systems. Some of the ‘homes’ left a lot to be desired, at the very least from the perspective of a growing kid. I probably gave you a permanent trash panda pallet with getting pizza sixty nights in a row at points, and I was absentee as fuck. I had no way to understand that you were not me, and I had no way to understand that in many other important ways, you were me, but I had been raised far better than what you were experiencing.
I was a ship at sea about just a ton of shit. I was hella irresponsible. I was definitely way too far up my own ass when I should have been watching out for yours. In spite of that, you found a groove, you graduated4, you got multiple real jobs, and there’s a very real chance that around about 2014, you were making more money than me. That’s not the be-all-end-all, but it’s pretty fucking impressive.
Your whole life is impressive. You’ve been truer to yourself than I’ve ever been, and at greater personal risk. You were basically neglect-parented your whole life and you graduated, and got state-licensed. You have dogs. You’ve gotten to basically every milestone ahead of when I did, even though you lacked many of the resources I had.
I’ve loved you every day of your life except for maybe like twelve minutes when we were fucking around at the apartment in Chardon and you punched me as hard as you could in the meat of my thigh and I thought my leg was going to whither and fall off like an overcooked turkey drumstick.5
Happy Effing Birthday, Old Man.
Today is your birthday. The calendar above my desk has been changed twice since the last time I’ve heard your voice. I still have a bag of year-old candy and a present from last year sitting in here. I’ve looked at it almost every day for a year. I have a really fun day for you tomorrow. Just reach out.
You are worth it. People love you. Koyo loves you.
I don’t care what’s going on. We’re better together than we are apart. I’m a ton less stupid than I used to be, and you’re a ton less stupid than I ever was. Of course, I’m still plenty stupid, so I’ll be out waiting for you tomorrow around 12:00. I’m just going to keep bugging the shit out of you till you cave.
Plus, I need to get this candy out of the house. If one of the dogs eats it, it will probably kill them.
No, Seriously though. Let’s fix this shit. Jeremy is no good without Kyle.