miles yet left

A thing happened last summer that I found out about last fall, and that thing was my brother's death.

I only had one brother. He was four years older than me. He was an addict, a violent criminal, and mentally ill. When he died I hadn't seen him in over a decade. The last I spoke with him was when our mother died; when our dad died we had no contact whatsoever. His final parole officer was legally obligated to send me warnings that he still made threats on my life. He didn't recommend reconnecting.

Anyway, regardless of all this, learning he'd died (of liver poisoning) knocked the wind out of me. In fact that's very much what it felt like--like a deflation. Like a sigh. Like a third tire going flat on the saddest, most beat-up station wagon ever to limp along the road. In this tragicomic metaphor, my family is of course the station wagon. A car full of alcoholics, anger junkies, depressives, and well-intentioned failures. I'm allowed to say this, being one of them.

When that third tire went kaput, it was like Well fuck. Now what. You motherfuckers all skipped town, and now I'm the only one left, to what? Elevate the family name back up to some baseline of respectability? Prove that our existence was worth something? Well, you guys upvoted the wrong one. Prepare for an afterlife of disappointment.  

I've had a lot of cheese-stands-alone moments in my life, and this was the loneliest cheese I'd ever felt myself to be.

And when I got over myself, I mourned for him, and all the happinesses he might have had. Did have, a very long time ago. I cried for the little boy who pulled his littler sister in a red wagon down a sidewalk in a town so small it didn't matter if they got lost. A smart if difficult boy who loved paper planes, then model planes. A boy who hid from the things that troubled him in boxes of baseball cards, then British Invasion box sets. A teenager whose fucked-up internal wiring was all too easily ignited by some fucked-up parenting. My brother didn't stand much of a chance, to be fair. Our parents were a mess. Our household was a mess. I survived, relatively unscathed, by the skin of my teeth.

So yes, there it is I guess. This post ostensibly about him is really about me, and how I moved on from the death of my last remaining immediate family member: easily enough. Like a patched-up tire with some miles yet left on it. Like you do.


Oh, and because I know some of you soft-hearted suckers will feel compelled to write kind letters of condolence - not necessary. Thank you. But save your ink for a time (if ever it happens) that I've moved you, or made you laugh, or made you think. Matt was a stranger to me for most of our lives, and I'd feel disingenuous collecting comfort over a loss I'd long since accepted. It's ok.