Of birth and loss

On this day, years ago, I came into this world. *Applause* Ok, ok, I’m blushing. You can stop clapping now. I have more to talk about. Preceding me was my brother Tim. Tim was a pretty cool guy. Pretty cool for the fourteen years that I knew him. I can’t help but think of him on my birthday.

And so the story begins. Sometimes life just happens to you. Things happen that you really have no control of. Tim was a role model in strange ways to me. Sure he picked on me. Then when my parents got divorced I watched him transition into something that was less than pleasing for any parent to see. Underage drinking, smoking, and the drugs.

I watched him self-destruct. The drug abuse happened right before my eyes. All sorts of drugs. One of those memories was after he went through a break up with a girl he was dating. He had taken a bunch of pills and was laying on the sofa in a zombie-like state. I believe this was after he had his stomach pumped. Yet he was my brother. I couldn’t get away from this. His friends would pass drugs around and I would decline. The upside was none of his friends EVER pushed me to do drugs. And to this day my motto is this.

It’s easier to say no than to try to overcome an addiction.

So how was he a role model? It comes down to one event that stands out in my mind. A friend and I had a falling out. I was probably 12 years old at the time. Tim decided to try to mediate the situation by taking us for a walk. We walked for a few miles, which is nothing when you live in rural Perry County. That’s basically a walk around the block for that area. We ended up at some rock cliffs where we decided to climb to the top. The whole time he was doing his best to resolve the issues between my friend and I. And it was working. On our way up the cliff I had slipped a little and Tim had reached over and grabbed me to stop me from sliding. After stopping my slide and making it to the top he said these words to me. “I don’t know what I would do without you little brother.” Tim had resolved the issues between my friend and I and spoke words to me that I would remember for the rest of my life.

Fast forward a few years. Tim still struggled with drug abuse and alcohol, had moved away for a short time. But had moved back to live with my mom. He hitch-hiked from Virginia Beach, Virginia with a small puppy in his backpack to get home for Mother’s Day. I believe he was about 20 or 21 years old at the time. I’m sure that was a pleasant surprise for my mom.

Now fast forward to October. Tim had moved back home with my mom and I. My birthday came and went. I really don’t remember what happened for that birthday because of what followed. I believe it was the following day that I was sitting in the living room listening to the Gun N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction album with my brother when he decided to go see some friends. He told me he didn’t forget about my birthday and would get me something. He walked out of the house through the front door and across the porch. I still remember the sun was slowly setting as I heard his car start and he drove away. Bored, I grabbed my Walkman and went for a walk to watch the sunset.

When I woke up the next day, it was well past the time I should be at school. The house was quiet and I had no idea why I wasn’t at school. Did mom forget to wake me up? Now what do I do? I obviously missed the bus. Finally I heard someone. My mom came to my room and brought me to my grandmother’s house which was just two houses away. My dad was there too which I found strange since he lived in Mechanicsburg at the time. That is when I learned that Tim was no longer with us. That moment I watched him walk through the front door was the last time I would see my big brother alive. That birthday present he mentioned he would get me? It never came.

Just a few miles away from home, and on his way home, he was involved in a car accident. Drugs and alcohol were both involved. Let that be another lesson he taught me, never to do drugs or drink and drive. It leads to disaster.

From that time on, birthdays just haven’t been the same. They seem to be overshadowed by that event which occurred many years ago. Some days I like to think of how Tim would be today had he stopped the drugs and alcohol abuse. I can picture him clean shaven and as the CEO of some corporation. And even though he left us at the young age of 21, my mind always sees him as older than me, even though I’m much older than 21 today.

Tim, wherever you are, I love you. You have taught me much, and for that I thank you. I really wish you were here some days though.

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