Like a brother

“He had been in every other regard a part of my family.” Piqsels

The one steady connection to my childhood

By C. C.

It’s been almost two years now since I lost my brother. While he wasn’t related to me or my other siblings through blood or law, he had been, in every other regard, a part of my family for as long as I can remember.

On the Ides of March, 2018, on his way home from work, he was needlessly robbed of a bright future by a negligent driver running a stop sign. In less than a second, although I was unaware for two and half more hours, my life had gone through an irreversible and preventable change.

The following days were a cycle of stoic shock, emotional breakdown, and quiet pain. Despite my dread and discomfort, I attended his funeral. The church was completely full when I arrived, and without a word I sat with the rest of my family. My mouth was cemented shut through the ceremony, and as soon as it ended, I silently walked out.

Throughout the eulogies, gospel songs, sobs, and well-wishes, all I could think about was how I would never be able to say good-bye. Silly as it may sound, I think that fact almost caused me as much trauma as his passing did.

That funeral felt like a mockery of what he meant to me. Throughout my life, him and my four siblings spent countless hours together in my parent’s basement doing all sorts of kid shit.

We listened to punk-pop records, raged epic battles with Nerf guns, swapped stories, and passed PS2 controllers between us for an unhealthy amount of time. His presence was one of familiarity and tension-less companionship, of unspoken brotherly bonds and unconditional friendship.

As I grew, our relationship maintained the childhood connection I’d lost with almost everyone else. Our conversations weren’t about issues or contemplation, just carefree banter. There was PlayStation, GameBoy Advance, after school ballparks and playgrounds, and, when I was older, absolute ragers. He was a reminder of better days. Even when he went to SIAST and I entered high school, our relationship was never warped by adulthood. Any time we were together, the spirit of our early years returned. He was a needed constant in my life, one I knew would never leave me.

Even when I stood at his grave site for the first time, that feeling was still there. Writing this now, him being gone doesn’t quite click. At times, I’ll find myself wondering what he’s been up since we last met until the left side of my brain remembers, “Oh right, he’s gone.”

For months, it went on. All the while, I kept staring at the one cruel fact I could never change: I can never say good-bye. Months went by, life returned to somewhat-normal, and I eventually accepted those words as what they were: fact. Yet, despite all of that, something funny happened.

During one insignificant night, in an insignificant place, during an insignificant week, fact became fiction. Call it a dream, a spiritual visitation, whatever, what I needed the most came out of nowhere. I found myself walking down a familiar flight of stairs to a familiar basement to a familiar presence. Sitting on a couch with a controller in his hand, as if the past seven months never happened, my lost brother turned his head and greeted me with a simple, “Hey, man.” I said “Hey” in the same manner and sat next to him without an ounce of ceremony.

For what seemed like eternity, the two of us sat and talked while swapping the controller back and forth. We joked with ease, we talked about this and that, all while listening to the other tap away at buttons.

Eventually, I checked my watch and said I had to go. He glanced at me for a second, said, “Alright, see ya later man,” and focused on whatever game we’d been playing. As I walked back up the stairs, I looked back one more time. I smiled, glanced at the TV screen, and continued climbing. In that moment, I finally embraced fact: I can never say goodbye to my brother because I will never have to.

My brother, ‘Colt’, will always be part of my childhood, my life, and my experience. He will always live in my memory, be my connection to long summer days, and will always be my source of unconditional comfort. That, dear reader, is a fact.

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