I was just beginning to touch the surface of who you were. We were just getting to know each other. Against every fiber of my being, I was beginning to trust you. All those years of hearing your name, and wondering about the kind of man you had grown to be were finally materializing into something I could hold on to. Something I could carry with me; a piece of my story that was worth bragging about.
I remember sitting on the phone with you for hours, thrilled to discover I was related to someone who understood me so easily. Before we knew it, we were speaking in unison, or finishing each other’s sentences because we were just so in sync. Our trains of thought ran along the same tracks. For the first time in a long time, I let myself believe that the final destination wouldn’t lead off the edge of a cliff. I truly believed that we were going somewhere this time, and you wouldn’t abandon me before we got there.
There were so many things I was still working up the courage to ask you. What was your favorite childhood memory? How do you cope with the world? Where do you think our artistic streak comes from? What is the darkest day you ever lived through, and when it was happening, did you ever think of me? Of us, your sisters? Did you ever wish we were there with you? I can’t tell you how many times I wished my big brother had been there to protect me. You have no idea how many times I prayed for you.
I remember standing in the kitchen and talking to you on the phone for what I didn’t know would be the last time, and you said that you loved me. The words just came out so easily for you. Mine caught in my throat. They had to claw their way up, but I said them back because I felt like I should be able to. I wondered if you could taste their insincerity.
It wasn’t my fault. Of the handful of times that you made an appearance in my life, you never stuck around. The one time you gave me the chance to say those words to you, you didn’t give me enough time to learn how to mean them. You vanished from my life as quickly as you had arrived, kicking up a storm in my chest, and then leaving me to once again clean up the mess you left behind.
Now, when people ask if I have any siblings I tell them I have a sister but I don’t mention you. Now, you’re just a stranger with the same pretty brown eyes and dimples as the ones I see every time I look in the mirror.
Family isn’t about what you carry in your veins. It’s about who you show up for, and who you carry with you.
Now, you’re just a name, an echo of someone I know. You’re just a hollow childhood memory no more significant than a candy bar wrapper stuffed between the cushions of the couch of my childhood home. Your presence made me happy for like 2 minutes, but now you serve no purpose in my life at all. You’re just gone.
The hardest part of not knowing you is that I came so close, but I have nothing at all to show for any of it, except more scars and trauma to sweep under the rug. The only reminder I have left of your existence is the aching in my chest whenever I see girls and women out in public hugging their big brothers. That’s just something I will never have.
You can have my eyes, and my dimples, and our father’s mannerisms and jawline, but you can’t have anymore of my time. You’re done playing around in my headspace like a sandbox; Building castles only to tear them down and flood them out with disappointment.
The hardest part of not knowing you, is knowing that a stranger is walking around with my face, and my name on his tongue.
We are not family.
I am not yours to speak of.