Tuesday, April 21, 2015
When the weather was nice, we played outside. We caught frogs and grasshoppers... every one of them had a name.We built forts in the trees. We even built a grasshopper cage and placed it in one of our forts. We pretended it was a television.... "Days of our Grasshopper"... "One Grasshopper to Live".... "General Grasshopper"...
At one point, we had a vet clinic in our sandbox for injured insects and spiders. We tried so hard to heal these little things... a butterfly with a broken wing... a spider with a missing leg... And we both would cry so hard when we just couldn't do anything to fix them.
Brandon was with me the day we took our homemade bows and arrows out to go hunting... I shot a squirrel. I didn't actually mean to hurt it (even though technically, we were trying to get food for supper). We both clung to each other crying as we got my dad... Dad sent us back to the camp and later claimed the squirrel was fine and ran off, even though we both knew Dad had to kill the poor thing.
We played legos and matchbox cars together. I remember lining up the cars and each taking a turn to pick a car. I remember laying the legos on the floor, walking over them to build our feet up to be able to walk barefoot over the summer time.
Friday nights, before Dr. Who came on, we danced. When he was little, I held him while we danced.
To escape the harsh reality we lived in, we made up the "Solar Stars." It was a group of rebels, fighting against the evil Maximilian. Brandon was "Mercury" - almost like Superman with his abilities. I was "Venus" - with telepathic and empathic abilities. Mercury and Venus were twins, and capable of conversing telepathically, even though Mercury wasn't generally a telepath. As we got older, we actually started writing a novel about this group of Solar Stars. It was half finished when I left home, and never did get finished.
I was 13 years old (he was 7) when I first hurt my back. We'd been playing at the park, and I tried to fall back and hook my legs around the chains. My leg missed, and I sprained my back. Doc put me on 48 hours bed rest, followed by a few more days of rest. Brandon never left my side. He had just learned to read, so Dr. Seuss became a constant friend. 48 hours of Wocket in my Pocket, and Dr Seuss' ABC's, and Green Eggs and Ham. Who would ever think these silly books would become so dear to me?
When he was a little older, we went bike riding - everywhere. Our parents had a couple rules... no riding through construction, and no crossing the main highways. So, "Don't tell Mom and I won't tell her you.... ". We rode everywhere, rain or shine. Anything to keep us away from the house.
When I was 17, a boyfriend showed up to take me out. Brandon, 11 years old at the time, launched into a lecture with this poor young man. He flat out told him there would be no sex... he could give me a quick kiss when he brought me home, but that was it... otherwise, there would be hell to pay.
A couple years after I left home - 2 years of not being allowed to see him or my other siblings - I stopped by. Brandon was the first one down the stairs hugging me like there was no tomorrow. I'd been so worried that day that he'd be mad at me for leaving... but there were no hard feelings. It was as if no time had passed. And when I left that day, he walked us to the car and hugged me again... so tight, so close, so lovingly. I never thought that would be the last time I held him.
Five and a half years later... on Thanksgiving morning... I got a phone call from my father. Brandon hung himself that morning in his bedroom closet - a room that once had been mine.
I couldn't go to his funeral. I wasn't allowed there.
I couldn't save him... I decided to save myself.
I didn't know the man he became... and as much as I want to blame our parents for that, it was my choice.
Yes, it's been almost 15 years. He would have turned 35 this month... instead, he's gone. I wish I could believe he's an angel watching over me.... but so many love to squash that light. Instead, he's just gone. And I miss him. He was my "Mercury" - my Superman - my hero. He never left me. He never hurt me or abandoned me.
I love and miss you dearly, Brandon. Happy Birthday. And, I'm sorry.