He tells me about doing things he’ll never be able to do. I know he won’t. Deep inside he knows it too. Mostly, we talk about how great it was when we were kids. It wasn’t great but I pretend it was.
He likes to compare himself favorably to others. He can be spitefully jealous. He’s wasted opportunities that the rest of us didn’t have. He used up all of his second chances.
About every third phone call, I have to search hard for our common ground. My heart is calloused with anger from countless disappointments. I rescued him hundreds of times but I couldn’t save him once. He still doesn’t listen.
He wonders what will happen after he dies. I tell him, “You can’t remember where you were before you were born can you? Well then, don’t worry about what happens after you die. I think it’s just like it was before you were born.”
I was the first one to see him when he woke up at the hospital. He was on a respirator so he couldn’t talk. He looked at me and he mouthed, “Am I gonna die?” I said, “Oh Sweetie, you’re doing so much better than you were last night.”
When I am away from him I’m so goddamned angry I don’t know what to do. When I see him my heart melts like ice cream on warm pie. I want to scoop him up and hold him close so he’ll get better. I want to fix him.
I can’t imagine what goes through his mind. He whitewashes some of the facts because he couldn’t stand it otherwise. I know that. I try to maintain a peaceful silence.
From 2009, two years after my brother broke his neck as the direct result of his narcotics addiction. Human beings have an amazing capacity for adjustment. Both of us have become accustomed to his present reality.