Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Tuesday is letter day!*
I'm sure you're surprised to be getting this letter. It is, after all, the first communication we've had in ten years. But honestly? We need to talk. Or more accurately, I need to talk and it's time for you to listen.
I don't know why you broke off all contact with my parents and me ten years ago. We never got an explanation, and although we wracked our brains for years, we never could figure out what we'd done. I wonder sometimes if we did anything at all, or if you just decided on a whim to cut us out of your life. Whatever the reason, I know that it did not have anything to do with me. How could it? I was sixteen when I last saw you. Your son (my nephew) was still in diapers. what was he, two? one and a half? The last time you visited it was summer. I was sixteen, turning seventeen. I had a great time getting to know my nephew, laying groundwork for what I thought was going to be a long happy relationship. I knew you lived in Missouri, but I also knew that you'd come back to Maine to visit as often as you could, and that once I was old enough, perhaps I'd come visit you. We'd always gone a long time without visits, as you lived with your mom growing up, and could only visit our Dad and us every other month or so. It was our version of normal.
I always loved when you and Mark came to visit. You and Mark may have been 100% brothers (as opposed to our 50% sibling relationship), but you couldn't have been more different. Where Mark liked to pick on me to get a reaction, you were my knight. You always defended me, and of all of my brothers (four in total if you count Steve and John), you were my favorite. You spent time with me, took care of me... you always had my back. I loved being on your team for snowball fights and fort-making. You were strong and took no prisoners, and always managed to make Mark sorry for being mean to me. I may have been small, but I appreciated that. When you were old enough and went into the Army, I was so proud of you! Mark's joining the Navy didn't have the same feeling. You'd done it first - you were the bravest, strongest brother I had. But after that last summer visit, your life began to change. You got divorced, and we didn't know where you'd moved to. Your ex-wife had custody of my nephew, and although she still writes and sends pictures to our dad, it isn't the same. I just wanted to talk to you - to find out what had gone wrong. How could my brother the Hero have failed at anything? But you didn't call. You didn't write. We didn't have any way to get in touch with you. At first we weren't worried. We knew if something bad happened to you we'd hear about it. We just figured you were taking some time for yourself, time to lick your wounds and come out stronger when you were healed. You knew our address and phone number, so we waited.
And kept right on waiting.
Ten years. For a decade we heard nothing from you. Mark got stuck in the middle as we began to ask him questions. What was your deal? Were you mad at us? Had we done something wrong? What? He hated that position of middle man, and so told us little to nothing. We knew you were still in Missouri, we knew you were a police officer, but that was it. I had to resort to the internet to get information. There was a write up of you in the Rolla Times Newspaper - you'd apprehended some criminal, even though you had to chase him on foot and lost a shoe in the process. I left a comment on that story, hoping you'd find it. It said "Hey - that's my brother! Love you Mike!" And at the bottom I posted my email address. I hoped you'd see it and respond, re-open the lines of communication. But you didn't. I saw in the Rolla Town Council Meeting Minutes that your K-9 companion was retiring, and you'd asked to adopt him as your pet. Again, I was so proud of you. You did a good thing! You were still my hero, even years after we'd stopped sledding and building forts.
But then last year, I saw something that hurt me. More than the lack of communication, more than having nothing but table scraps of information I got off the internet. These were pictures on Alec's Myspace page. You know Alec, Mark's best friend? The pictures were of you, Mark and Alec in a bar in Maine. You'd been to Maine, and you hadn't called. Mark could have called me too, and I was pretty pissed at him as well. But you - you broke my heart. Regardless of what my parents may or may not have done to cause you to leave them, there was no reason to leave me, too. I'm an adult now - we CAN have a relationship. Seeing those pictures really made it clear to me that it wasn't that you couldn't talk to me, get back in touch with me - it was that you didn't want to. Suddenly the picture I have of you in my head, the image of Mike the Hero, warped. Became something different. And I was so angry, so hurt. I didn't understand what I had done to deserve such shitty treatment. If I had deserved it, I would have understood. I know what it's like to hold a grudge. I do. But I didn't do anything to you! I tried so many times to keep you in my life. I sent you an invitation to my high school graduation, my college graduation, my wedding. At every major event in my life, I tried to include you. I put myself out there, made the first move, extended my hand and my heart to my brother. You.
I got nothing in return.
You didn't even RSVP in the negative for those things. You just didn't respond. It wasn't that you couldn't come to Maine - the pictures had proven that you would, could, and DID come to Maine. Just not to see me.
And now, once again, you're in Maine. You have apparently moved here, although I didn't hear that from you. You haven't talked to me yet. I heard that from Mark, who is again playing the middle man. You have seen and talked to my parents at their home. From what I gather, you haven't offered any explanation for your absence or for your reasons for coming back. After all you've done this last decade, I'm guessing that you only reconciled with my parents because Mark told you to do it before he gets married this fall. A wedding you will be in, I'd like to point out (where were you for mine?). Mark doesn't want family drama on his big day, and I don't blame him. I do, however, doubt your motives.
I don't trust you. Not anymore. When I was small, I would have followed you to the ends of the Earth and beyond, trusting that you knew what you were doing and would never cause me harm. I don't know when that changed, but I'm sorry it has. Because Mike the Hero is gone. And no matter what happens from here, I can never have him back. The Mike who exists now is still my brother. I'm not sure what kind of relationship we can have, but (I hope I don't regret this) I am willing to explore our options.
I'm waiting for your call.
* I realize that today is in fact Wednesday, not Tuesday which is the actual letter day. I apologize for the delay and hope this was a letter worth waiting for.
at 10:43:00 AM