Friday, April 15, 2022

This is a Story About

I was catching up with a friend recently on a run. This friend--a lifelong friend named Molly who often asks the question that everyone else shies away from--asked me why my brother Kevin died last year.

Why was he an addict?, she wanted to know. Was it his genes (we're each adopted from separate birth families)? Was it his choices? How did it happen? How did he die alone on his couch and stay there by himself for five whole days before anyone knew?

And, I can't remember how or if she asked me this, but I felt the question in the conversation: Was there anything you could have done? 

I have to say, I hadn't really thought about it. Was there anything I could have done? Who would want to open that ancient unlabeled tin can and stick a tongue in?

Days later, I was brainstorming in a notebook about my new fictional character, Sophie Jones, the potential subject of my fourth novel

I wrote, "Did Sophie had a sibling who died on her watch?"

I wrote that, and then I looked up at a display about the history of aviation in the Chicago Midway Airport and wondered with a pain just over my sternum, "Did I have a sibling who died on my watch?" And, then I wrote that question down, too.

On our run, I told Molly about how each of Kevin's birth parents struggled with substance abuse, how he was depressed and had a hard time taking care of his mental health, how living with our dad was harder on him than it was on me (I do wonder how much of that fact was my fault), how he lived in a family of people with whom he had so little in common, how he never made good choices about taking care of himself.

I don't know why these things were true. 

I didn't try all that hard to help, is the truth, too. There were reasons for that, and some of them are good.

1 comment:

LH said...

Wow. This post got to me.
The idea of "on my watch" resonates as I just left a week visiting my 92 year old Dad.

Also, I go back and forth between thinking things don't happen for a reason and that things happen for gazillions of reasons.

Kudos to Molly for asking the questions and Kudos to you for mulling them over deeply.