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I Am My Brother's Keeper (Part 1)

It's been almost seven years since I last saw or heard from my oldest brother. No phone calls. No text messages. Not even a Facebook friend request. So as I sit here contemplating the words in which I will place on a note that he will eventually read, I am torn, emotional, confused, and even a bit reluctant to go through with this process. However, I know I have to do this. It is an act that will eventually close a chapter that is still open, though it has been cold for this long. And whether he accepts this initiative on my part in this tangled web, or whether he decides to throw those anticipated and hopeful words out with the trash, one way or another, this chapter of silence comes to an end. 

I've never really mentioned my oldest brother here at the DP. In fact, until my wedding, I've never mentioned any of my brothers. Like many of you reading this, I have quite the unorthodox family. And for those of you who don't, count your blessings, and do not take it for granted.

As briefly mentioned in The Mystery Partner, a post in The Unity Road Writings, I discussed my once, and sometimes still, insecurities regarding my family. My family is large. My mom, one of twelve, and my father, one of eleven. Both have had falling outs with their siblings, some deceased before I've even met them, and the rest misplaced around the world. My mom has one close sister she has always been best friends with, and another she has slowly buried the hatchet with over recent years. As for my father, he still remains the lone wolf he was when he left home at the age of sixteen. His story is a post in itself (actually a novel), but let's just say I've never blamed my father for never looking back. 

So yes, I have tons of aunts and uncles. And lots of cousins. One would think that would make for an awesome Christmas, except these folks are spread out all over the world. St. Vincent. Barbados. Bermuda. Canada. England. Netherlands. And more. 

So that brings me to my immediate family. My oldest brother, is my mom's child from a previous relationship, and my second oldest brother, The Mystery Partner in DP recognition, is my father's child from a previous relationship. 

Growing up, I spent most of my years with my oldest brother, as I only saw the Mystery Partner on the weekends. Although I did not share many similarities or likes with my brothers (we all are different in so many ways), I always had a closer bond with my oldest brother. We lived together. Naturally, we were closer.

My brother was the consummate helper and the ideal big brother anyone could ask for - he was very, very unselfish. My oldest brother would do anything for anyone and that included me. 

He bought me things, helped me hide to play Super Nintendo when I wasn't supposed to, and always included me on the pickup games with the Tilden H.S. baseball team, even if I was almost ten years younger than everyone and struck out most of the time. 

He was there. 

Including one time where he lead the way along with The Mystery Partner to rough up confront a kid that was constantly pushing me around. I could have held my own, it would've been a struggle for sure, but I didn't need it once he saw the muscle I had. 

It was the rawest kind of bond one could have. Nothing really in common or alike in any specific way. Right down to the bare bones - we stuck together because we were brothers. 

Then came 2003. 

My brother met a woman he eventually became serious with. He introduced her to the family, which was new to us all, and he let it be know that he was indeed serious about this relationship. 

Then came the announcement heard throughout our immediate family - he proposed. And she said yes. 

It caused quite a stir within the family, and much concern amongst friends. 

It wasn't even a year yet.

And my mom -  a woman who often gives everyone the benefit of the doubt until you really do something wrong to be crossed off her list, and then she'll eventually be put you back on in forgiveness, because that's who she is - was not overly excited by his new fiance, and even more so, by the decision.

In her words, "there was just something shady about her". 

Shortly after, my oldest brother moved out of the apartment below my parents home - in the middle of the night. No one knew. Except for me, who watched through the blinds of a dark room at 3:30am. 

After moving out, we all received invitations in the mail for his wedding.

Yes, invitations, to your own family.

And even if it is small, you don't have to invite your parents?!

The gesture is insulting and classless.

My mother was disgusted. My father, angry. 

Me? Confused. What had just happened in the span of two months?

The wedding was scheduled to take place the same day I was supposed to leave for college.

He didn't know. How could he? 

Then again, he should have.

Actually, how dare he?
I never went. I chose to head off to Cazenovia, NY, making my decision, the same way he felt he had to make his. 

My oldest brother got married on that day. From what I was told, he had very little representation. He later told mutual friends of the family that we chose not to come and support him, that my parents weren't there for him, and so the divide began. He later continued to spread lies and gossip to cover all of his already previously told lies. He eventually severed more relationships with his friends, and then eventually all of them.

He even fell on hard times and lost his job.

He was attempting to run away from his problems and current life, but was just spinning his wheels.

All of this time, our family knew of his situation. We heard every rumor, every story, every lie he spread. 

And still, my father, knowing of his hard time, pulled some strings and some of his seniority at the company he works for to land my oldest brother a job. One would think that would create sorrow, strengthen personal guilt, and eventually force an apology, right?

My oldest brother for the two and half years he worked on the same floor with my father, never - not once - said a word to him. 

Coward. 

Eventually, maybe because of opportunity, or guilt, he quit, and the communication and hearsay of my oldest brother updateds dwindled. 

What ever happened to his wife, you say? 

Well, they're still married. But as my mom would often say, for a woman to sit back and to further indulge your husband to continue his further estrangement from his family - your in-laws - his friends and his family, describes her character.

How about the fact that she is part, or even the very reason for it?

And I agree. 

Over the years, the reports started coming in again as he began trying to reconnect with friends of the family in a very rare and random attempt for help. Through hearsay and back channels, we've heard how he was doing, and of course, the occasional gripe at the rest of the family. 

My mom loves to hear these stories. Not for the gossip or the rumors, but for the mere fact she misses him.

It's her son. 

The situation, when it occurred, tore my mom apart. She often looked depressed and very sad during these summer months. Not only was my oldest brother drawing the line in the sand and leaving the family due to another woman's motions, but the Mystery Partner began a new job at JetBlue traveling all over the world, and I was going away to college.

All of us gone. Just like that.

And while she has come to deal with his decision, deep down inside, she loves to hear these rumors and tidbits as it let's her know that he is okay - or even if he isn't, what the problem is.

And no other news showed that interest until recently. 

After the rumor and information well ran dry for up to two years, there was a break. 

A big break.

A few weeks ago, my mother via my aunt (my mom's best-friend sister as mentioned above), via a friend, via another friend in Canada, via a relative of my oldest brother's wife in the island of St. Vincent, (told you these stories were wild. Three countries!) made it known that my brother had recently purchased a house in Rochester, NY. 

My mom's reaction, "Rochester, NY?"

It seemed very weird to us that day as well. Until, Google confirm it all. 

We searched and found that he had indeed purchased a house, and has been living there for more than a year now. 

My mom was confused, but very happy to hear that he was doing okay. A
nd well, that he purchased a home.

Me? It dawned on me that it has been almost ten years since this cold divide began. And the last time I saw him? 2005, when I picked up my dad from work and exchanged a head nod and a very colorless,"What's up?"

And on the screen, was his address. 

I stared. I stared at it for so long. And then I decided - I'm writing him a note. 

My mom wasn't sure what to say. She is somewhat scared of making contact. My dad is all for it. The Mystery Partner thinks of it as a war tactic saying, "you're trying to run from everyone. But we know where you are". Family members and some friends think it's a great idea to teach him a life lesson he has some how evaded or refused to accept all these years.

Me? 

I'm just looking to do what I know is right. And that's doing everything - everything - that I could do. 

This life is too short to have regrets. To constantly and consistently give the shoulder. To hold grudges. To act like this isn't a part of me. A part of who I am, and what has made me. 

When I named my second oldest brother, "The Mystery Partner", as a member of the party in my wedding, it was the beginning of the healing process. The beginning of no longer feeling insecure about my family's structure.

I'd be lying if I didn't say this situation hasn't weighed on me over the years. The look on my mother's face more so than any wrongdoing, loss of a relationship, or rumor was heartbreaking.

And like I've always said, I've never lied to this blog. 

I am sending him a letter. I'm making the first move. 

So here we are...

What do I write? 

Do I pretend the past ten years didn't happen? 

Do I simply just start new? 

Do I let him have every thought that is in my mind? 

And of course, does he even respond?

That's a huge question. 

Nonetheless, I'm breaking the silence, and leaving it all in his corner. 

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