A Letter to My Brother, the Addict

Dear Brother,

I miss you. Gods above me I miss you. Not the you who you are now, because it’s not you. That you died a long time ago. The baby whose first word was love, the little boy who thought ninja was a creditable occupation, who called red purple for five years, and who I protected when our parents fell apart.

I miss you, but you’re gone. Maybe you died with the first fix. Maybe it was the second. Fuck, maybe it was the 50th or the 500th. It doesn’t matter, does it? Dead is dead. And you’re dead. Even walking around and chasing that next fix you’re dead. The person you used to be is dead and gone and the person, the man, you could’ve grown into is gone too. I’m heartbroken, because I miss the guy who was my friend and I hate everything that took him from me. I’m so angry that some days it’s all I can do not to sit down and just scream my frustrations to the sky.

It’s really bad when something happens and the others expect me to care – like not just care, but actively try to put out the fires you start or even to stand inside them and burn to ash. I know this story. I was on this ship before with our mother. It’s sink fast and the water’s up to your throat. I tried to drag you into the lifeboat, any lifeboat. I tried with love. Then with facts. Then with yelling until I was hoarse.

Then you attacked me. August 21st, 2019 you attacked me in our father’s kitchen. You were methed out of your brain. I called the cops, because we couldn’t get you to stop. You shouted that you wanted to murder me for calling them. It’s all recorded on the 911 call. The operator’s voice shook a bit as I locked the door and left you outside for the police to deal with. Maybe I was the one shaking, inside and out down to my brain and soul. I don’t know, but that’s the day I realized my brother was dead. The person who he had been was gone and I didn’t even know it.

Now, they expect me not to keep rowing my lifeboat to the shore. The expect me to go down with the ship and I can’t. I barely got off the last ship I was on with my life. This is the same ship as our mother’s. It just has a fresh coat of paint and a new name and a different captain. I tried over and over – I ran around patching holes, making excuse for you, and trying to spoon the water out of the proverbial ship with a goddamn teaspoon.

Of course, they look at me like I’m the pirate. I’m the traitor. Half of them are only half alive from addiction. They make the same doomed laps around the pool – making and breaking promises, tormenting each other and tormenting those who haven’t sank to their level. Of course, I’m the pirate or privateer. I’m the one who doesn’t drink the kool-aid that you have to burn up in the fire of your blood line. I’m the one smart enough to walk away from the dumpster fire.

I’m not walking away from you. Somewhere along the way you walked away from all of us and yourself. I’m not leaving you, because you already left us to chase that high. Let them say what they will about me. I tried until I was literally locked in the bathroom begging a 911 operator to tell the cops to hurry. That was the day I broke. Strings broke apart – stretched at the seams. I miss you, but you’re drowning in who you’ve become and I can’t help you and I won’t go down with that ship.


The Sibling Who Tried