Like an Apology

It’s the day after Christmas and I called my dad on my lunch break to give him something to smile about. I told him about dinner, and me figuring out a challenging work problem. He told me about my brother. For the first time in a year, my dad reached out to talk to him. He wanted to wish his son merry Christmas.

All my brother could say back is that he hated him, and wanted to kill him. On Christmas, all my brother could do was spit in the face of what would have been a miracle.

Despite his recent suicide attempt, for a moment I truly hated my brother, in this profound way that I tried my best not to all these years. I allowed myself to this time, because while I believe James is sick, I also think he’s a repugnant human being and often times I’m not sure where one begins and the other ends. Is there fine line like with property borders, or is it mixed in like marble cake, and you’re not sure which flavor you’re going to get until you really bite in?

I don’t know. I don’t if there is any type of penance that my father and I could give him that would be enough, especially considering when in the reality he exists in is completely his own. In his reality, he was dying of cancer but refused to tell us who was treating him, only for us to find out when we finally got ahold of the doctor that it the cancer did not exist. In my brother’s reality, it is completely justifiable to call your sister a cunt when she won’t give you money for cigarettes while you are visiting your mom in hospice who is dying of lung cancer.

In my brother’s reality, you should spend $2000 on Armani suits and beg your relatives for rent because Mark Cuban wants to hire you to run one of his startups without any consistent experience or a college degree.

My brother’s truth is emotionally colorblind. It is painted with endless stories where the characters change from hero’s to villains, and anyone with lungs will drown in it’s landscape.

And so, when we are told, time after time after time when we air our grievances to friends and health professionals, that James is sick, it is challenging for us not to scream back while this is true, there are at least two people that are very very tired, and neither of us are confident that even the finest mental tools available would help the situation, especially considering when the person in question refuses to help himself on a more than basic level.

The quiet between my father and I goes stale. Neither of us know what to do about my brother’s mental illness. We cannot reason with someone who never seems to run out of anger, and who is not satisfied with what we have the capacity to give. We  cannot level with someone who know’s he’s sick, but is in denial about what way. My father and I end up saying that we love each other, but it feels less like a declaration of parent-child affection and more like an apology.


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