My Brother

Content Warning: Suicide, Death of a sibling, Self-harm, Drug addiction.

What makes someone a brother, anyway? Is it blood? How much time you spend with someone? Familial ties? Or who they are to you?

We had all of that. Blood, time, familial ties, memories… he was so much to me. I don’t even know if he knew how important he was to me. Like every young fool, I never said it in the moment. I thought we’d have time. Then life happened.

He was my brother, that’s all that matters, especially now that he’s gone.

Three years ago today, it’s 12:51 AM, May 1, 2017. He died early in the morning, before dawn, three years ago today.

He was a couple of years younger than me, and when we were kids, it was me who stood up to the bullies when they came after us. At least until he got stronger than me. Gods, so many times we were like two peas in a pod. Together every second.

He was pretty for a boy, always was, even when he grew up.

Even when he was hooked and dealing, he was still pretty. He had brown eyes and Seelie brown hair, skin a few shades darker than mine at its darkest. (I’m one of those mixed-race folks who don’t look it unless we’ve been in the sun for 5 minutes.)

In the way brothers do, he got bigger than me and protective. He taught me to throw a punch the right way, and he taught me how to build a fire with nothing but sticks on a night neither of us could bear to go home. I’d be willing to bet to this day the parental units were too busy arguing to notice we were gone.

He also taught me how to track animals so I could watch them. He liked to hunt with a gun, I liked to hunt with a camera, but the skills are almost the same. Almost every pleasant, formative memory I have from childhood had him in it. Life wasn’t easy growing up for us, so we were one another’s anchor.

Until we grew apart as older people, he was my best friend.

You never, ever, get over the loss of a sibling. I remember the day I got the news. I found out on facebook.

As you may know, I have a pretty fucked up family (lol, if you’ve read through my blog, you know that.)

Because of who he’d become, an addict, a felon, broken… people thought I wouldn’t want to know. It was my former highschool best friend who let me know in the kindest way possible that “I should call home.”

My dad didn’t even know it had happened. I called him in a panic and caught him as he was getting his coffee and newspaper that morning and asked him, “Is Kyle dead?”

It took me most of the day to find out for sure that yeah, my brother had ODd.

Thing that didn’t make sense then, even though I think I understand now… he’d been clean for a long time. Years, ever since his kids had been born.

But you’re never quite forgiven for being an addict, no matter how much you do to get better, be better.

I’ll never know why he did it.

See, he was smart. Smarter than me by far, part of why he ended up so broken is that… well, in a family of people who cling to their ignorance like it’s holy, being smart isn’t the vaunted thing it should be (it broke me, too, so I get it.) He had to have known after being clean for so long what would happen.

I can’t believe he didn’t.

I don’t even know what happened that made him do it. I can guess, a lot of shit happened leading up to it that isn’t mine to share, but… I’ll never know.

When I knew for sure that he was gone, that he’d done it, I paced around my living room until my screams boiled out. I’ll be forever grateful that my daughter was in school that day and that my son was napping a tired toddler sleep. I bit through the meat of my palm to keep silent enough that I wouldn’t wake up my son.

Even now, it hurts so much just to think about, much less write it all down.

Because of life and immigration issues, I hadn’t seen him in over five years. Now, I’ll never see him again.

Gods damnit.

Kyle. I speak your name and remember.