You know, I’m not a huge fan of rambling on about personal stuff on here because who the hell cares, right? But on the other hand, I’m such an infrequent writer that no one really visits anyway, so it’s fine. Not bothering anyone and it gives me an outlet to vent a bit. Kinda talk to the invisible therapist who lives in the tubes, know what I mean?
That’s okay. I don’t either.
It’s been an emotionally and physically stressful past 30 days or so.
On June 28th I got what I can honestly say was the most horrific phone call I have ever gotten in my life. My mother called me; she was more upset than I had ever heard her before, crying, hysterical, and told me that my younger brother, Farrell, was dead.
Drug overdose. Suicide, accidental, it doesn’t matter. The result is the same.
My little brother was gone.
I can’t even remember the rest of that night.
My brother and I had an interesting childhood. My Mom and my step-dad, for many years, didn’t make a lot of money, so my great-grandmother ended up with the unenviable task of raising me, while Farrell lived with them. None the less, he and I were close. Fuck, we were brothers. We were best friends. We’d talk on the phone for hours. He’d come over some times and we’d play. When I was a teenager and I ‘opened’ a comic book studio in my neighbor’s basement, I, of course, hired him on as my art director.
We were the white Wayans Brothers. Only without the terrible drag movie.
He was two years younger than I was, so he ended up not going to middle school at the same time as I did. As well, since he lived with my Mom, on the north side of Springfield, he ended up going to a different one anyway.
This is where things started to go wrong.
He was at that impressionable, rebellious age. Unfortunately, he ended up falling in with a bad crowd. And when I say bad, I mean bad. He often told me that he was involved with the Latin Kings; an ironically named white gang. This continued throughout high school (which he eventually dropped out of). I had no interest in what he was doing. I honestly didn’t think he was THAT involved in real ‘gangs’, as well this was a time when I was involved in the Springfield Police Department’s Explorer Post (an off-shoot of Boy Scouts, only more ‘career-related’) and still had aspirations of becoming a police officer.
I decided that ignorance was bliss.
One day, I came home and found the front window to the house was broken. One of the basement windows was broken as well. Inside, multiple items – a television, stereo, computer – all gone. SPD came out, dusted for prints and whatnot, but it was unnecessary; I knew who did it. He admitted it when I confronted him about it. It was at that point we stopped speaking. The family should always be off-limits. I never forgave him for that.
Farrell, for whatever reason, ended up in Minnesota a few years after I left. He spent his time there bouncing in and out of jail/prison. On more than one occasion he made attempts at reconciliation. I still have a letter he wrote when we were both in Springfield. I have a birthday card he hand drew (he was a very talented artist). At our Grandfather’s funeral a couple of years ago, he asked to keep in contact and gave me his phone number. Most recently he tried to friend me on Facebook.
Every time, I ignored him.
Every goddamned day since that phone call I have been wondering to myself if it was my fault. Could I have saved my brother if I had just had some faith that he COULD have turned his life around? Maybe all he would have needed is some encouraging words from me? Or maybe, just maybe all he would have needed was to know that I fucking forgive him for a stupid-ass burglary that happened 16 fucking years ago.
I am going to correct one thing I wrote earlier. I do remember one thing from the night my mother called me. Despite not being religious, I remember dropping to my knees and looking up; calling out to wherever Farrell may be and asking that he forgive me. Forgive me for failing to fulfill my duty to him as his older brother to protect him; not just recently but as a child.
From as long as I can remember, everything was about me, and how it would affect me, with no regard to Farrell’s life. I failed him. I failed my mother. I failed my family.
I failed myself.
I think of this quote, though, from Gautama Buddha, when I wonder exactly if any intervention on my part would have helped:
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.
Regardless, it doesn’t do anything to change the way I feel.
They say live your life with no regrets. Unfortunately, that’s no longer possible for me. I will now be going to my grave with at least one huge regret, and a massive ‘what if’ bouncing around in the back of my head. I’m not really sure what the moral of this story is, other than take care of your family. You only get one chance.