Drako is a big scary dog. He is a pit bull / rottweiler mix and he is big and strong and scary looking. He came into my life about 7 or 8 years ago when he was rescued, with another smaller pit, from an abusive situation. He was going to live with my daughter and her family. I happened to be in town when he arrived. I spent a few hours with the dog in my daughter's house and put my foot down. I explained that he was going to hurt someone in that family. Her chaotic, dynamic family was not the right place for Drakeo.
We immediately thought of my brother. He lived alone in an A frame that he had built with a chainsaw and timber he had hewn from his own land. He lived in the country, very isolated in a remote part of Northern Ontario and had just lost his guard dog.
I called him about Drako, and my brother came to see him. I didn't know it then, but it was the last time I would see my brother alive. I live in Arizona and our contact was sporadic.
Long story short, my brother took Drako home with him and over the next 3 years, turned him into an excellent, loving dog. With a combination of discipline and dogmanship, my brother rehabilitated Drako.
Drako was there when my brother shot himself. Drako almost got himself shot by the police. He was so protective of my brother's body. Eventually, a friend was able to persuade Drako to leave his best friend.
Another long story short, Drako arrived here in Wisconsin to live with me a week and a half ago. I had spent time with him during my sojourns into Canada, when he was living with my daughter, where he had gone immediately after my brother's death. We are old friends.
The most striking feature of my brother's face were his huge, expressive brown eyes. I see them in my mind's eye, looking at the world when he was a little boy, and when he was a broken man. Drako has the same eyes. It breaks my heart.
In his stories, he was always the hero. It was an open secret that he was a fabulist. My father said his brother Leo was the same way, like it was some genetic trait. (In a way it was. Uncle Leo once told me a story about his sister Aunt Liisa straining at the potty and prolapsing feet of large intestine. My uncle Leo laughed like it was the funniest thing ever)
My brother's stories embarrassed me. I tried to stop him from talking when we were with friends. I didn't want him (and me) exposed to their ridicule. He resented this forever. He told me in a drunken anguish at age 45 that "I never let him talk".
My brother's stories lasted his lifetime. All his friends knew it about him and accepted that in him. None of his friends knew that he had a sister. This hurts the most. Have to stop writing now.. Crying again.
I thought that I would write about my brother.
He was an affectionate little boy. There is a picture of us about age two where he is hugging me. The look on his face is pure joy; on mine - impatient toleration. My mother says that he was always trying to hug me and I was always pushing him away. When I actually let him hug me, they took a picture because it was so rare.
He did not socialize well with others. I was always on the go, learning languages from my neighbors. He was in a corner, playing with a truck. He once told me that he wanted a truck with a trailer that was 8 miles long. I was truly puzzled and asked him how he would make the 90 degree turn into a neighboring town. He was very angry with me. It was a missed connection.
When we started school, we headed to first grade, neither one of us speaking English. (The neighbors were Italian) We went in hand in hand. The older boys offered us chewing gum just as the bell rang. The teacher was screaming at us to "spit it out" and we had no idea she was talking to us or what she was saying. One of the other finnish kids filled us in. I still remember how my face burnt as we went to the wastebasket and "spit it out".
It reminds of the time other kids taught us to say "F--- you you b-----d" as the proper way to ask for candy at the corner store. Pretty funny now.
My mother had decided that she wanted to learn English with us, so she would check our papers after school. I started getting stars on my papers and my brother didn't. We would walk home and try to come up with a believable story - "She ran out of stars" was one. Mother stopped checking after a while.
By Christmas, I was reading English. By the end of the year, I was promoted to second grade and my brother was left behind. It was the beginning of the end.
Horrible things happened to him. He was hospitalized in a town 4 hours away due to physical damage from abuse. He was soiling himself due to lack of sphincter tone. How ashamed he must have been. I missed him so much when he was gone.
When he came home, he told me wonderful stories about the hospital. I wanted to go to the hospital too. A year later, before my own hospitalization, he confessed that his stories had been made up. He didn't want me to expect it to be a wonderful place.
There is so much more to my brother. I will keep writing as I can. I am crying now and will stop for a bit.
Thank you for reading.
Perhaps we always have been. Perhaps that's the way of the world. Nail somebody or something on a technicality and we don't have to extend ourselves as human beings. We don't have to see the subtleties of the situation or the person or the event. We can hang a label on it and then we don't have to think any more. We can sleep at night knowing that we did what the right thing. Or can we? Do we sleep? Or does the wrong we have done nag us with insomnia, sleeplessness and vague disquiet?
If we have pangs of conscience, troubling thoughts about what we did, do we kill them with booze, activity, the more pressing demands of daily lives, until we bury those pangs under piles and piles of whatever defenses we have learned to use?
It's difficult to let go of the touchstones of our judgments To recognize that people and situations and events do not fit into neat little boxes. The world is not black and white. It is colors beyond our ability to see - vibrations beyond our ability to sense and possibilities beyond our imaginations to picture.
We don't control this world - this universe or even our lives. All we can control is our responses to the unimaginable.
My response is to defy the easy answer - to always look more and see more and try to understand more. I am scared and uncertain. I have no boxes to guide what will become of me. I am open to the cruelty of others, as well as the kindness of strangers. Life hurts, but I am alive.
In my head, I understand the reasons why you did what you did. I have been there many times myself. Parts of me admire the fact that you had the guts to do it and then I get so sad that you felt that was the only option you had.
Dammit! Why didn't you just pass out? I know you have a million times before.
I wish you would have told me goodby. You told other people (in your own way) and you acted like you didn't even have a sister. I know we haven't really talked in years, but you were my twin brother. We were together in the womb. You have always been in my world. I don't understand why you waited till I got to town and then killed yourself without ever contacting me.
Was it my fault because I didn't call you right away? I think it might be less painful to believe that I had something to do with your decision than to accept the fact that for you, I didn't even exist.
Have you any idea of the wreckage you left behind? You think your life was a mess. Your death was way worse. I worry about our little brother. Yeah, he's 44 years old but he's the one that got to clean out your place. He's got the cap with the .22 hole in it. He dragged bags and bags of your shit out of your house. He's also paying off your credit card bills because he wants to keep that pile of crap you called a house and build a legacy.
How about our 82 year old mother. You treated her like shit and yeah - you had your reasons, but I was the one holding her as she wailed by your coffin.. you heartless son of a bitch.
I love you so much... and I am so mad at you. I already forgive you and I miss you