A story about how perfect and dear my brother is:
My parents wanted to tell him when we were all together.
I didn’t like that idea.
I know how he reacts.
He’s a tough guy, so if something hurts him or worries him, he reacts like my mom.
Instead of crying or just being depressed, he gets mad.
Sometimes he yells, sometimes he hits things.
But I didn’t want him to be angry in front of my parents.
They were going through too much already.
I told mom to let me handle it.
It was my news, I should tell him.
We were always close, even when we hated each other, it’s a sibling thing.
He was still very young, only 14 or 15, but mature for his age.
I knew he could handle it.
But I needed to tell him.
“Let’s go somewhere. I can’t sit in this house anymore. You up for a drive?”
“Sure. Where we going?”
“Who cares, let’s just drive.”
He has always been a lot like me.
Both of us are more comfortable in a vehicle.
Just the thought that if you needed to get away, you could.
We drove for miles, singing along with the radio, dancing around, making jokes.
But then it was time.
I turned the radio off.
That was never a good sign.
He knew, if the music stopped, something was wrong.
We always had music.
“Sweetie, I just . . . we heard from the doctor. I have to have surgery next month. It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be fine, but I just wanted to tell you.”
He didn’t react like I thought he would.
He was really quiet for a minute.
And then I saw tears sliding down his cheek.
His voice was very clear.
“It’s not right. It’s not fair. You’re the smart one. You’re the one that’s going to do things and change people’s lives. Not me. It should be me. I should be the one that’s sick. Not you. It’s not fair.”
I started bawling like a 2-yr old and pulled over.
I reached for him to hug him, but he pulled away.
He was different from my family in that aspect.
We’re all very touchy, affectionate people.
He’s not. It’s not that he doesn’t love you or doesn’t want physical contact, it’s just that he thinks hugging and kissing and such is a sign of weakness.
“That’s not true! You are smart! You are going to do all kinds of things! I would NEVER wish for you to be sick. It’s all going to be okay! You will see. It will work out!”
“I’m not like you. I wish I was. I want to be. I wish for it every night. Things are so easy for you. You’re going to be able to do so much. I should be sick.”
“DON’T SAY THAT AGAIN!!! The last thing I would EVER want would be for you to be sick! Sweetie, you are just as smart as me, you are just as gifted, you will change the world, I know it. It’s just that your gifts are different. You do things I could only dream of doing. DON’T tempt fate by wishing you were sick instead of me! Things are going to be fine . . . I have good doctors and you and mom and dad. We’ll be fine. It will all work out.”
“I just . . . it shouldn’t be happening to you.”
“You’re right, it shouldn’t happen to anyone . . . but it is, and better me than other people. I’ve got so much, this isn’t going to hold me back. Bubba, we’ll be fine. I promise. Nothing’s going to change. I’m not leaving you.”
I still cry every time I think of that day.
We got home that night and he just went in his room and shut the door.
He deals with pain and fear like I do.
He cranked Metallica’s black album for about an hour.
Then switched to Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
My parents wanted to go talk to him, I told them to leave him be.
When he came out, it was like nothing had happened.
He had grieved and things were fine.
I didn’t realize he was still hurting until I woke up the next morning.
He had climbed in bed with me during the night.
I wrapped my arms around him and just held him.
When I felt him wake, I closed my eyes and let him sneak out . . .
I still don’t know if he has any idea that I knew he needed me.