A letter to my brother

My relationship with my family was complicated in its existence. It is currently complicated in its absence.

I won’t get into it here because it’s too long, and honestly, you wouldn’t understand.  I am posting this letter because I found it on my computer today and would like to share it.  A little background. My brother and I didn’t grow up in the same house after I was 11 and he was 13 (14?).  We hadn’t spoken often due to his hurtful and irresponsible actions. After a significant silence — which I broke to inform him of our grandmother’s illness and eventual passing– he asked to be apart of my life. After considerable coercion I said, “Yes, but this is your last chance.”  Two months later he failed to communicate appropriately after telling me our other grandmother had health issues.  I found out from someone else that in the two-week time period that he wasn’t returning my phone calls or texts she had died of a brain tumor.

It hurts to know him.

I sent him this, via text message, because he wouldn’t answer the phone and I didn’t have his email address.  In spite of the message the letter conveys, he still followed me, creepily, on Instagram. Here is the letter grammatical errors and all:

Our dilemma: I’m bored by you and the cyclical fashion of your behavior.  I’m bored by my naivete and willingess to allow this to happen again, and again, and again.

 If our relationship were a sitcom we would’ve been canceled long ago due to recycled plots, stagnant characters, and uninteresting conflicts.  I am a little sister of two and so society says I am to embrace my nature and manifest certain behaviors in order to get attention read: pick and pick and nag and nag yearning for an emotional response. 

Fortunately, due to experience and maturity, I out grew that phase.  I don’t beg.  It’s beneath me.  If someone wants to be in my life they are welcome…until they aren’t. You are not.  I once sent an email like this ma/joyce/your mother/all of it feels false but you know who I’m talking about. 

She was so upset by the tone of the message that she didn’t understand the cause behind it.  Each time you both hurt me  I end up in a place that is so unhealthy it’s ridiculous.  I set boundaries and still you hurt.  I walk away and you beg me for permission to reenter my life. 

I allow it and yet the behavior never changes.  It’s like I’m related to robots. I would rather endure the pain of never hearing from, speaking to, or having to smell the putrid odor that accompanies your disappointing soul than to let you or anyone else that is related to you hurt me in that way again. 

Please read this next part carefully: I never want to hear from you again. I don’t care if you are on your deathbed, if your sons need a transplant and I am the only match, if your mother’s kidney fails and her dying wish is to spit in my face: I don’t care. 

I want nothing to do with you and anything or anyone that associates with you. 

*insert my brother’s name here*, know this.  I am serious.  Don’t call me, or text me, or ask anyone else to do the same. I will change my phone number.  I will get a restraining order. I swear to God I will take whatever legal action is necessary to get my point across. Don’t fuck with me.  To dear Isaac and Eli.  I feel badly for them because their lives lack the presence of an aunt who loves them dearly but has no access point.  Their father, an untethered foundation, thinks that relationships are built and sustained by pixels and such submitted through the internet and over the phone. He thinks that is enough.  He hopes that is enough.  He believes that is enough.  I know it is not enough and that knowledge grieves me.  Oh the promise our relationships could manifest and yet they are left with naught. 

This time I am hurt by me but not gravely as was common in my youth.  It’s like an old relationship the drags me in.  An ex I cannot shake.  A pool of putrid piss in which I linger long after toddlers have gone to nap.  I am silent in my hurt because I welcomed it near my being yet again knowing full well of the end.  An ending which is always the same. 

And so I write this to ask the following: for you to give me peace. Leave me be.  Bother not myself, my spouse, or off-spring to which I may rear as my own.  Should ailments reach you or yourn protect yourself from feigned response. I will care not and ask that you let that be.  Allow this to that which greets every desire to contact me bring back to this note. This interesting diatribe.  Should death befall, leave me alone. Should you hear of my misfortune, leave me alone. Should you hear of my bliss, leave me alone.  Take your kin and return to your hovel.  I care not for passage nor grace.  I ask not for forgiveness. I ask for you to leave me be.

This post is not about death

I believe that there are instances of our life that happen like pictures.  With or without a camera those incidents are daguerrotyped into our brains and we’ll never completely get them out.  One of those pictures is of my first kiss. Another is the scene in my 3rd grade classroom when a girl got a hold of my journal and read the entries aloud. One that just happened is the face my grandfather made as he collapsed to the floor.

He’s been falling a lot lately and I don’t have anything in my toolbox that can help. I’m not a doctor. I can’t research his symptoms and prescribe adjustments that will result in him living longer.  If I could. I don’t know that I would.  He’s been ready to die since his wife died two years ago.  He wants it to be over and yet his life continues.  Well, some version of his life is in the works, but it’s not the whole one. Unfortunately, it’s not even sliced into neat pieces that are conducive to an orderly existence.  His mind is split into pieces that leave him calling me by my cousin’s name, calling his daughter by his mother’s name, and calling his sons by names I don’t recognize.  Sometimes when his computer tries to reboot itself he is left standing blank in a doorway or just in front of the sink.  If my aunt or I recognize the symptoms soon enough we can prevent fall. It’s not always possible.

A few days ago friends of the family, whom I’d never met, were visiting and asked me to describe him in one word. I chose ornery. It was, apparently, a harsh descriptor because everyone looked around the room and silence ensued.  But he is ornery. He is stubborn. He is mean. He is sweet. He is loving. He is my grandfather and I am here for him. I quit my job for him. I am living in the basement of this house for him. And me. I couldn’t remain 3,000 miles away, hear about his deterioration, and be okay.  I couldn’t be forced to deal with his death from a distance as I was my grandmothers’ and a former student’s. I needed to grieve up close for him and that’s what is happening.

I grieve for him slowly as I walk behind him bracing myself for his fall.  I grieve for him in pieces when I have flashbacks to the vibrant grey-haired man of my youth.  The one who would scrub my skin so hard in a Jamaican bathtub that I felt as if my whole self would peel off.  The man who loved me in my youth but allowed me to be abandoned by his son. The man who always had a drink in his hand, but never seemed to be drunk.  The man who loved my grandmother but cheated on her anyway.  The man who never said I love you. The man who loved me.  I grieve for him in whole pieces when I am away and hear his voice on the phone.  When I hear a great crashing sound as I go to bed and run back upstairs to care for him after he has fallen, if he has fallen. The man who I help get in and out of the shower. For whom I sometimes hold my breath as I walk into the bathroom to flush the toilet.  The man for whom I adjust old sweatpants that are too big and need to be tied extra tight to satisfy him.  The man I sit next to as he stares blankly through windows and relives his hauntings.  I grieve for this man constantly these days.  I am living in a state of grief.  It’s not always as hard as it was today.  But I saw his face as he fell and he was so afraid. I was too far to catch him and didn’t see it coming.  I will never get the sight of his fear out of my mind.

This post isn’t about death it’s about grief.  I want the grieving to be over.

IMG_3464

My grandfather the soothsayer

The soothsayer himself

The soothsayer himself

I moved into the unfinished basement in my uncle’s house in December of 2012.  My grandfather’s health was declining and it hurt to be almost 3,000 miles away from him. This decision continues to challenge me in ways I could not have handled five years ago.  That’s not why I’m writing today.  I’m writing because my conversation with my grandad just freaked me the hell out.  It is already VERY difficult for me to live in a basement.  It’s dark and scary and it always feels like someone is going to break in and murder me.  I have my escape plan all mapped out.  Keeping that to mahself.  Not trying to have any impending murderers read this and foil my plans.

Two of the several rooms look like this:Fridge area

I mentioned the “several” not to be bougie, but to illustrate that this is a shit ton of room for one person to occupy. I usually sit on my bed with my back against the wall and my face like this:

Mi hear duppy.

Mi hear duppy.

It’s a scary situation of bounty. I digress. Today while eating my banging gluten-free breakfast of champyans in the upstairs kitchen.

My grandfather says, from behind me, “I have a kwestion, but mi nuh no di ansah. Mi nuh no whuh kwestion fi ask, buh mi wan’ tan an ansah.”

Translation: “I have a question. I’m not quite sure how to phrase it, but I’d like an answer.”

First of all. When talking to a fully coherent individual of any age I’d be like, “Well, work that sh*t out and get back to me when you have something a little more concrete.” Because honestly, what can anyone do with that?  He goes on to say,

“Sumting feel wrong wit the house. The house don feel right. Only chree of us here?”

Translation: “Something feels wrong with the house. Is there anyone else in here besides us?”

Umm the hell you say?  So his home nurse tries to assure him that we’re the only people here and I’m sitting there like this:

Mi feel him pon mi skin

Mi feel him pon mi skin

My grandfather is an 88 year old Jamaican man who has developed seizures, has a mysterious pain in his abdomen, and pisses himself on occasion. Ain’t nothing wrong with any of that though. After that long your body would probably start rebelling too.

I believe in the wisdom of elders. I believe in the power of people who are close to birth and death.  I have no doubt that at the cusps of our lives we are connected to things we eventually outgrow and return to, like spirits. Sooooo to hear this man talk about something being wrong in the house was freaky.  He kept saying that the position of the house has changed and that something is wrong.  I just listen because we’re both getting frustrated.  He wants me to tell him what’s wrong. I don’t know what’s wrong and he keeps telling me that “I don’t know grandad,” is an “unacceptable ansah.”

*The house phone rings*

I usually don’t pick it up unless I recognize the number.  This time I  picked up without recognizing the number.  The conversation went a little something like this, “Hello. The FBI reports that there are 10 million home break-ins each year…

I’m sorry, what?  If someone breaks into my house I swear fo’ God I will shit myself without shame.  I had my scared of duppy face on went I came back to the table where my grandfather was sitting.  Even though I was spooked I tried to let my grandfather know that we heard him.  His feelings were valid, but I just had no idea what was “wrong with the house.”  He then started to ramble and talk about how it was a holiday and everyone should be home.  I took that as my cue to exit the conversation.

The combination of my grandad’s words and that telemarketer phone call leaves me feeling off. That man and his soothsaying abilities have gotten under my skin.  I’m going to try and spend the rest of my day doing something other than looking for ghosts around the next corner.

Solemnity

IMG_2131I am feeling exceptionally solemn today. That tends to happen after magnificent days and so I’ll take this one in stride.  Had a client meeting that went well and spent the day doing for others in a way that frustrates me.  I’ve been having problems with a friend as of late and their name no longer brings me the solace it did in the past. I used to think that this person would be in my life for the rest of it and that brought me peace. How does one, though, maintain oneself in the presence of another broken in unflattering pieces?

This woman I loved and — perhaps still do — is so different she’s unrecognizable in spirit and in action.  I find myself reverting to childhood behaviors in her presence because I desperately want to make her happy. I want to do that which pleases her and when those actions go unnoticed I become unrecognizable to myself.  I look for her approval in body composition, in the meeting of our eyes, in the acceptance of the gifts of my actions and yet receive nary a sign.  We are different she and I and it is difficult to accept that. It is difficult to remember that I spent much of my life pleasing others and it is foreign to me to try and please myself.

That is the notion that’s eluded me thus far. My recent question of, “Why has this time originally dedicated to my grandfather and his final steps transformed me into this journeywoman as I stand now?” is beginning to make sense.  The suffocation that drove me to Chicago is driving me still.  I am suffocated by a life of codependency and need to wipe it out. Free my neck from the grasp of bruised hands other than my own.  I am the one that makes my steps though they may be guided by another a Creator of souls.  I am the one who determines the quality of my life. I choose.  My steps may be ordered, but it is I who do the stepping.

If the rest of my life does not include those from my past I will be changed. Not better or worse, just different in the way I’m supposed to be.

 

a bit.

Soooooo, I’m going to be away from the blog-o-sphere for awhile. I’m leaving Chicago to go back to Atlanta. I’ll be there for a bit then I’m leaving Georgia to be in Seattle. Then I’ll be there for a bit. Then I’m leaving Seattle to go back to Georgia to hangout with grandad for a bit. Then I’m leaving Georgia to be in Chicago to work for a bit. Then I’m leaving Chicago to go to Seattle.  Then I’m leaving Seattle to go to Morocco for a bit longer than a bit.  Then I’m leaving Morocco to go back to Seattle then I’ll leave Seattle and maybe go to Tucson for much longer than a bit. That’s still up in the air though.  Needless to say, I’ll be busy.  I have the WordPress app on my phone so I’ll try to update from the road, but they’ll be short and probably include low quality pictures.

Be well everyone!

WMB

I just blocked my brother on Instagram, ya’ll.

Yup.

Not like funny ha ha blocked, but Eugh I feel gross, blocked. The story is long and so I won’t burden you with the deets, but he’s not my favorite person.  In fact, the thought of him makes me allergic.  My acid refluxes and I start sneezing at shit I didn’t even know was in the air. My nose gets stuffy and my throat itches.  I’m allergic to my family and I’m allergic to bullshit. Good thing I blocked him because I might have gone into anaphylactic shock.

You see, I may have communicated my disgust at his life.  All of it. We have a history of me expecting too much, and him being a terrible person. Ok, that’s unfair. Our relationship is complicated.

Short version?

We didn’t grow up together. Boarding schools. Different student homes.  I tried to keep contact and maintain a relationship and he was more interested in girls and sports.

I tried supporting him and doing the things I felt sisters were supposed to do, but never got much in return.  I’d call, he wouldn’t call me back. Rinse. Repeat.

As I aged, my resiliency for the taste of our cycle diminished. We stopped talking.  My paternal grandmother was on her deathbed and I reached out after a few years to tell him he needed to see her.  He drove down but was too late. Something about he and his wife forgot something at home and had to go back and get it.  That doesn’t make sense to me. They should have kept going for everything but their newborn.  Anything else, leave that shit like it fell off the wagon on the Oregon Trail.

She died before he got there.  She longed for him for 14 years and died without seeing him again.

While there he did the whole, I-need-to-right-all-that’s-wrong-in-my-life-because-we-are-mortal-beings , bullshit.

Him: “I want to be back in your life”

Me: “No, you’re just saying that shit because you’re sad.”

Him: “I won’t fuck it up this time, I’ll be better”

Yada, yada, rinse, repeat, soak cycle.

Me: Fine, but this is it. Seriously. I can’t take this anymore. Last chance.

Fast forward a few months.  We’d been texting regularly..meh, kinda regularly. He calls and says,

“Hey, they found a lump on grandmommy (our maternal grandmother’s) brain.

Me: “Ok. Um, do I need to fly there now? Is she okay? What’s going on?”

Him: “No, you don’t need to go, it’s okay. ”

Me: Ok. Lemme call you back later (I was at a Homecoming and couldn’t hear fo’ shit).

Him: Ok.
I call back later. No answer. I call again. No answer. He doesn’t pick up the phone, or text me back for two weeks. Finally, I reach out to my other family members and when they get back to me I find out she has died.

Yes, my grandmother was dead and my brother never told me.

I was done. I sent him a text message saying so (trust me I tried calling) — and that was it. He didn’t respond so I assumed that he was going to respect my decision.  It’s been a year, maybe more I don’t know.  Well, today I was looking at the “likes” on Instagram feed when I find out that he started following me 12 hours ago.  He didn’t reach out to me in anyway.  He just started following me.

He had a lot of time to say something and didn’t. I felt gross so I blocked him.

This blog address is in my bio so he’s probably read a bunch of my stuff and shared it with other family members I don’t care for.  Whatever, I put it on the internet so I can’t control that.

What I can control is maintaining my relationships with the positive influences in my life. That feels good. Positivity feels very good.