No, I’m not talking about him, again.
I’m talking about my brother . . . again.
This morning my brother called me with horrible news:
T : You’re going to get a call from Seth today. Probably Zach, too.
Me: What’s up?
T: Cody’s phone rang at 6:30 this morning. Heidi died last night. She had three other people in the car with her. Apparently she took a curve at 130 mph and didn’t clear it. They slammed into a tree.
Me: OH MY GOD!!! What happened?????? Was she drunk??? High?????
T: I don’t know. That’s all they told us. I called mom, she’s looking into it.
Heidi is the younger sister of a friend of mine.
I’ve known her since she was wee.
She was a good girl.
Younger, I found out, than I remember.
I thought she was 4-5 years younger than myself.
Turns out she was only 18.
It also turns out that my brother wasn’t that well informed.
There were FIVE other people in the car with her.
ALL of which are kids we know.
Kids whose families we’re friends with.
Hope is a small town.
You know everyone.
You’re close with a lot of them.
The story we’re hearing is this:
Heidi and the four other passengers (Heidi died on impact, the other four were airlifted to different hospitals - - all are in critical care) had gone to her boyfriend’s house to have a good time.
The boyfriend broke up with her.
Heidi made everyone leave with her.
Hurt, crying, outraged (all of this is speculation and conjecture from family and friends), she took it out on her car.
THIS is why I’m a horrible person.
Yes, I was upset about the loss of Heidi.
Yes, I was extremely worried about her family and friends, particularly Zach.
Yes, I was worried about the other passengers.
But my first thought was: It could have been my brother.
How is Zach going to cope?
If I lost T, I couldn’t go on.
I know it.
I just couldn’t.
And that brought on the tears.
Off and on all day.
I kept remembering times I had come close.
Junior year of college.
Mom calls in tears.
Mom doesn’t do tears.
She does do cryptic messages that make you think the worst.
She never starts with the good stuff.
“Your brother was run off the road by a drunk driver coming back from Rosston. The truck flipped four times at 50 miles per hour. The truck was destroyed.”
And she pauses and breaks down into sobs again.
I take that to mean that my brother is dead.
My mom doesn’t do tears.
I don’t even listen anymore.
I throw the phone down and run as hard as I can to DJ’s room.
Slam open the door, break down on the floor and the next thing I remember is DJ carrying me to his bed.
Sobbing in his arms.
I can’t even tell him what’s wrong.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t see.
I don’t want to breathe.
Mom calls DJ’s 10 minutes later.
She knew where to find me.
“Brittany, he’s fine. Listen to me. He’s fine. He doesn’t even have any cuts. He’s fine.”
I hate to admit that I cussed her out for 4 straight minutes.
Colorful words I didn’t even know I knew.
WHO does that shit????????????
Who doesn’t start with “Don’t freak out, everything’s fine, but . . . “
That wasn’t the first or the last time.
But it was the worst.
I’m thinking about Zach again.
Remembering how he and Heidi were.
They weren’t as close as T and I, but they had a special relationship.
I hope I can help him through it.
If he will let me.
I hope he finds comfort in his family.
In his friends.
In his fiancee.
But I can’t imagine his loss.
I can’t imagine anything comforting him.
I couldn’t be comforted.
So, these are the thoughts that overtake me all day.
One minute I’m fine, the next, I’m fighting back tears.
Finally, this evening, I can’t sit around and think about it anymore.
Work had been a distraction, but it was done.
The sweetest man in the world had plans with friends.
I didn’t want to burden my friends with something as insane as this.
My brother, who I needed to be around, was MIA.
So I went running.
I ran and ran and ran.
Making myself think of anything else.
I’m about to start what feels like my millionth mile when I see shadows coming behind me.
I assume they are other runners, so I move as close to the shoulder as I can to let them pass.
Then I feel a tug on my ponytail.
My ankle turns.
I start to fall.
Arms grab me on both sides.
And I think, “Great. I’m going to be accosted in the whitest most Suburban bullshit neighborhood on the planet. Every house has a SUV, 2.4 kids and a dog, but I’m going to manage to get raped and killed here.”
Hey, think about the week I’ve had.
Wouldn’t you have thought the same thing?
Then through my “Schism” by Tool I hear:
“Damn Britt, you almost ate pavement.”
“What the buddha, T!”
Cody answers, “We went to your place to get you to run with us, but you weren’t there. T saw the MP3 player was gone so we figured you were running.”
“Then why aren’t you at the track?”
“We didn’t see you when we drove by, so we figured you were doing hills.”
Is it bad that I wanted to tackle my brother and just hug him until he couldn’t breathe?
Actually, I wanted to tackle Cody, too.
He’s from Hope. He’s been T’s roommate for a year now, but they grew up together.
He’s like another brother.
I just want to take them both and put them in a bubble somewhere and keep them safe.
That’s if they promise to stop accosting me in the middle of my runs.
And trying to kill me with my ponytail.
But I’ll take being accosted by them over the news Zach got any day.
Yes, that makes me selfish and horrid.
But, I couldn’t live without my brudder.
I just couldn't.
And I know it.