Why Didn’t I B(r)other?

When Mom left, it hit us all in different ways. It was hard on all of us, for sure, but in different ways. We were 4 different kids, so we handled in 4 different ways as well.

Being the oldest, I was presumably the wisest. I wasn’t always the best big brother. I have a lot I regret. A lot I wish I did differently. Nonetheless, being the oldest at the time you all looked to me for guidance. I’ll never forget when we found out she was leaving.

We were all at the dinner table. I don’t remember where Dad was. Probably at work. Mom told us she was out and then she walked out the door. I remember the 3 of you crying . I fought back my own tears. I was too tough to cry, plus I had to try and hold it together for you guys. I’ll never forget the way JT looked at me, with tears everywhere. He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t have to. His look said it all. What do we do now, man?

I didn’t have the answer. I just ruffled his hair and looked around the table. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know what to say. I don’t remember what I did next, but I probably disappeared to my room. I did that a lot. I wish I didn’t, but I did. I was always the grumpy big brother. I just wanted to be left alone.

I didn’t realise it then, but I was pretty heavily depressed. Basically on and off since Grade 6. I needed help, but I didn’t know who to ask for it, so I just pretended everything was fine to all the grown ups, and I vented on you guys. I was so angry all the time. I wish I was a better brother to you all.

Anyway, she left. As you guys know, she took everything with her. The cars, the business, the house, the furniture, shit, even our toys. God knows what she needed with them. That left the 4 of us with Dad, and no roof over our head.

I blamed myself for it. Maybe if I wasn’t so grumpy she would have stayed. Maybe if I was less sarcastic, less of a “cool guy”, she wouldn’t have been burned out and wouldn’t of left us all. You guys probably all blamed yourself. It was none of our fault. I wish I realised that then. I wish I told you that then.

The only person to blame is her. She left her kids. I can’t even entertain the thought of doing that to Chicago. She is my whole world. No matter how much she pisses me off (which is a lot) or how hard of a job raising her is (it’s hard), I would never turn my back on her. Mom made the choice to leave us, that’s on her. Not on us.

I think I was 17, fairly close to 18 when it all happened. I was happy enough to live in my car for a while. Or crash with different friends or a girlfriend. That left you 3 and Dad. Dad got a caravan and you all lived in that. I’m pretty sure it was for almost 6 months. I can’t imagine how infuriating that would have been for all of you. I didn’t really think about it though. I was just trying to finish school and do my thing.

Eventually I got a unit to live in. I decided to do my part and take JP in. I figured with him living with me, it would take the pressures off of everyone. I just assumed it did. Because honestly, for the first time in years I was happy. Mom was gone, but there was something about it that made me feel free. No more arguing. No more broken home. It was just me and my brother living in our own place, with our own rules. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best things had been in years. I guess I just assumed it was the same for all of us.

I thought that I could manage being the head of a household. I thought I’d be able to get JP through school and help him land a job. Truthfully, I probably pushed him to hard. I put a lot of pressure on him. I tried to help, but I failed. After a while, I got depressed again. I needed to be alone, so I went to live with some friends. JP went back to join you guys. All 4 of you under one roof again. At least it was a house this time.

It was taking it’s toll on JP, so I let him come live with me again. It was fun, but like last time it didn’t last forever. Eventually, I needed my own space again and off I went. That was the last time we ever lived together.

It’s not like we aren’t friends anymore. JP and I still talk and occasionally catch up. It’s less frequent with EJ and JT. We all got together for my wedding, which was nice. But that was probably the first time in 7 or 8 years that we had all been together. I honestly don’t know if it’ll ever happen again. If we do, it’ll probably be a funeral.

It’s not there is any animosity. It’s just that life happened. We all went through some shit and we all went our own ways. Carved our own paths. Made our own choices. Made our own lives. Most of us have our own kids now. It’s a shame we aren’t all closer, but it’s the way things went.

I found out this week that EJ is going back to the Big House. 3 years. For a stupid mistake you made years and years ago. You already served a couple years. You’ve been out on bail now for almost 4. Life wasn’t perfect, but you were on your way. Your own kids, a stable job. I honestly thought you’d get off with time served and a suspended sentence. After all, you kept your head down for so long. It was just a dumb mistake, many years ago.

Now you will miss another 3 christmases. Another 3 years of your kids birthday’s. It’s pretty sad. JT is back in court again next month and might not be far behind you. I can’t help but wonder if things were different how things might be for you guys.

If Mom never split, maybe you all would have finished school. You all would have had a home at least. And money. Maybe you wouldn’t have had to do some of the things you guys did. I was lucky to be the oldest. I had a job already. I had an income. I had a chance.

I extended that chance to JP, but not you two. I wasn’t a great brother to any of you, but at least I gave him something. I never did that for you two. I can’t help but wonder if I put in some more time showing you guys the ropes if things would have been different now.

For some reason, you all still look up to me. I’m the one who has it all together – the house, the wife, the daughter, steady work (at least until I quit). It’s nice you all look up to your older brother, and it’s true that I pulled myself out of the crap and made something of myself. But I didn’t do it all alone. I had some help along the way. The truth is I failed you guys and I should have tried harder to help you guys out of the crap too. I got out, but I left my brothers behind. I can’t help but feel that this is all my fault too.

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