I was ten and he was four when our parents divorced. He lost more than I did in that event. He was losing married parents. I only lost a man who scared me. A man I called dad but only because he was on paper and I was too young to know the difference. We were divided equally like assets. Of course I was easy; I never belonged to the man anyway. The little boy, he was different, made of her mouth and his eyes and curly hair.
She left him with his father without a fight and it is a decision she says she regrets almost every day. It is the nagging thought in the back of her mind that she forgot to do something but can not figure out what. It is the sadness she feels when she hears his voice on the telephone. It is the feeling of emptiness somewhere deep in her chest when she is sitting alone in a crowd.
From the time I was thirteen until this day, I have only seen him only enough times that you could counts on your own hands. There was a Christmas or two, a road trip to Houston, and the saddest two times across the bars of a cell. Even then, he was still a boy. We are both older now – adults who do often share the same emotion of children looking for our parents. We are her children.
When he called at five am yesterday, I was surprised. He said he was in town. He came to my home. He is a man now. Though the drugs are gone, he drinks, swears, and uses the “n” word in casual conversations. Which he continued to do even after I scolded him with all my sisterly kindness and affection not to do it in my presence. A stranger with different ideology, different beliefs than my own. I look in his face, thinking I know nothing about him and then find myself in the very next breath telling him how much I love him. When he asked me to come with him and his friend for a days adventure, for one brief moment, I saw the boy who used to follow me everywhere. And, I will join him later today. I suspect where I will watch him and ponder the idea of family. We are family but are we family? We share some of the same blood. We are related but do we relate? Is any of that important really? Should it be simply that we are brother and sister and that is enough?
My mom subtly pushes this all the time. She wants us to be together. Maybe it is to ease her guilt but I believe mostly because she feels we need to be able to depend on each other. She knows deep down that it is what we really lost along the way. She might be right.