Letter To My Unborn Sibling

In 1979, this contributor’s mother suffered a miscarriage, and he is hence an only child. What follows is a letter to this brother or sister.

Dear Little One,

However sad your barely lived tale is, I write to you–in ways you would have to have lived to understand–with envy, and maybe even a little anger, feelings which are more existential and reactionary than they are personal I will admit. It’s complicated, because your consciousness was never met with the empiricism of life, but (and I have my corroborators) you would have come to discover that this world is similar to the void into which you fell, only much larger, a breadth which makes such condition feel even worse. And yes, I’m speaking rather abstractly, and at a safe distance, for we have not the perforated circle of a hug to carry us through. And you may be still illiterate.

It would have been nice to have you around, if only to help absorb our father’s boundless inward-to-outward derision. Obviously, it is not your fault for slipping through our mother’s crack as the semi-manifest period you were. We were in Florida at Disneyland. I was two years old. She blamed it on the roller coaster. I have this image of a red blossom, some exotic flower flattened by mom’s stately ass on the bottom of her white pants after the ride. She was crying. I don’t know how I remember this.

If you were a girl, you would probably have been loved more. Our father always wanted a girl, expected one, sans any ultrasound to clarify your gender. And mom was just dying to put a dress on me. As a 14-year-old boy, not completely right in the head, I had a fantasy in which I appointed a girl in high school I had a crush on as my sister. It is unclear why I did this, though I’m relieved to tell you the fantasy did not involve incest, but merely the innocent sniffing of your hypothetical panties (the fresh ones in the drawer, not in the hamper, you sick girl). I guess maybe it wasn’t even sexual. I just wanted someone around, upstairs in the next room while our parents argued over the remote downstairs, and I bestowed such fantasy with a pretty girl’s face.

Oh yeah, so our father probably has Asperger’s (this eponymous psychological disorder where you’re basically a retarded asshole who’s really good at math) which I know is like totally passive-aggressive–to diagnose someone under the auspices of objective clinical distance as a means to, essentially, judge or shit-talk them. But like, srsly. You have no idea the “free pass” you received when our Maker called you back, months before the searing vertical light of a hospital room would blind you, as they did the rest of us, we who brave our existences now, then too-blinded and fucking slippery to claw our way back inside. Short of a Maker, there is Maker’s Mark–which brings me to Mr. Asperger’s alcoholism, to which your esteemed sibling also verily subscribes. It’s rather cliche, and I don’t want to get all weighted down with psychology, but adult afflictions are considered by some as attempts to recreate childhood pathologies or dynamics, given our biochemical “addictions” to how we are used to feeling. The brain wants to continue its path in psychiatric homeostasis. Like if you were my younger brother, you’d probably be some finance asshole trying to patch holes with zeros before the decimal point in your bank account. Or, if you were my sister, I’m pretty sure it would be cake-to-toilet or razor-on-leg hyphenated wonder for you. Or maybe I’m the black sheep, and you’d be happily married with kids. I hope for that.

If you could see mother now: tiny hands shyly going over the pills she either needs or thinks she needs; the finally faint lines on her face which she tried so hard to fight off with expensive creams; the twenty pounds of extra fat around her waist she carries around as some floatation ring, perhaps to brave the deep dark waters of her husband; the thinning hair and tidy collection of sun hats in her closet designed to obscure the former; the quiet phone calls we have, pleading me to tell her she did an okay job. Just an “okay,” not even good, that’s all she wants. I tell her she did just fine, which is less empathetic than hopeful. If you could see her now you might cry, the two of us, in the perforated hug I told you about earlier. We could make a salty pond below is.

Of unborn siblings, you have one too actually. A year before you were miscarried on a roller coaster, mother had an abortion. This may be read as a commentary on our father’s Asperger’s, or my Tourette’s had I not finally stopped screaming, or just the world at large. The truth is we are only diagnosed as human. Parasites looking for a host, needing to fuck, starting it all over again. I guess mom just wanted it to stop. Women want love, and they put that love into a man, thinking that when the man puts his love into her, literally, every thing will sort of play out. And it does, in that jizz-to-egg way. We are born (most of us) and the world endures another generation. What might not work out, specifically, are the tiny incidental lives in between, this collateral damage of living. Nothing cares if we’re sad, because sadness cannot evolve. Feelings are irrelevant, the tragedy of freedom. I’m sorry this is so grim, but the biologically imperative blood and shit which marks our entrance and exit into and from this world may be considered said world’s commentary on us, what we are worth, the slippery matter which coaxes our shepherdless transition. I guess I’m saying you’re doing just fine. TC mark

image – Sam Pullara


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  • Dali

    Your life would make a great indie film.

  • Sarah

    Man, the same thing (sans roller coaster)  happened to my mom, only it was 3 or 4 years before I was born. I’ve never thought of it like this. Thank you.

  • lolastrawbunny

    that was awesome

  • saritapatrice

    Amazing. Really.

  • Breannah

    This is probably the most downing, upsetting, yet interesting TC entry I’ve ever read. An I’ve been through most of the stories on here. I’m really too speechless to say anything.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TomSmizzle Tom Smith

    I thought “I really want to read something by Jimmy Chen” and then this article appeared. Amazing stuff, man.

  • rose georgia

    true and painful and beautiful and hard and horrible and incredible. all at once.

  • Valerie

    Awesome and sad and sickening.

  • Christine

    Bleak and beautiful.

    And I think I had the female version of your childhood, complete with the escapee younger brother Jerry, who I like to think I would’ve alternatively loved and happily tortured.

  • Jordan

    Great piece man (how many times have I said those words).  I thought this was to an as-of-yet unborn letter, so my goofy grin took a nosedive at a certain point here.

    This was really good, it’s filled with depth and emotion and downright morose at times but also humorous and sort of flippant, like what I assume Chuck Palahniuk books are if I had read any.

    Thank you for breaking up the drivel on TC with these, I was scanning pages and pages looking for an update for you just yesterday, good to know I only had to wait another day!

  • Anonymous

    Really well-done. I love your style.

  • http://jimmychenchen.com/ Jimmy Chen

    thanks everyone. i feel like liking all the comments, but that seems frivolous and ingratiating; yet i feel bad having to choose which comments ‘win’ by my liking them, imagining someone who offered an earnest comment which was seemingly ignored, and how alienating that might feel. i suffer from this kind of online codependence in facebook as well. i am touched by everyone’s readership, thanks.

    • Meredithwouters

      Good TC article man.  as ever

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    Beautiful, I love your honesty and ability to talk about something like this, something I think many may not think of or would not try to think of. 

  • erin

    My mom also partially miscarried (then aborted) when I was about two years old, leaving me an only child. I find myself thinking often about my younger sibling who never was. This is a lot of what I think about on my own. Thanks so much for putting so much of yourself out there.

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