In the corner of the room stood my older brother John who was my father’s favourite son, no just favourite person. He worked in my father’s law firm and did things that I could only dream of. “Don’t listen to her she’s drunk. You know how she gets.” His stern brotherly voice had reassured me that everything would be okay.
I was always a fearful child, and at night it was the worst because I couldn’t sleep afraid of the dark and the night terrors that troubled me. I always looked to John who slept alone in a big room with no lights on and on a floor of his own. My brother inspired me and left me wondering just how much of a better person I could be growing up. You know that guy who’s good at anything but is so nice to everyone that was John.
I remember getting bullied, and he would get into my bullies faces, and they would know not to mess with me. I could clearly not fight till he showed me how to kick ass. My dad never cared to pay attention to me or help me out with anything, but I could always look to my brother for support. Even when it came to love and getting rid of people he believed to be toxic.
The birthday party had started off rocky as my mother was not in the best of moods and my sister’s drunken state had left a bitter taste in my father’s mouth, and well everyone’s, to say the least.
“Mother are you okay?” I asked her to assure myself that she was still alive as her silence had left me feeling uneasy.
“Yes, I’m good apart from the dying lungs.” She laughed as they were replaced with rough coughs. My father glared me down as to question my intentions.
“So my sweet Jem where’s your girlfriend Anna?”
“Yeah, where’s Anna?” Zoe pitched in.
“She wished she could have been here, but she’s busy…sorry. Um, she wanted me to tell you she misses you and loves you yeah.” I looked to John as I pulled lies from my head afraid to tell my mother the girl she had pictured me marrying was, in fact, crazy and was not allowed six feet near me thanks to John.
Anna was beautiful and so infectious. As she stepped into a room, you couldn’t help but smile. She was always doing something new every day and to her life was an adventure she had no obligations and at times I was afraid I was never good enough for her. It terrified me that her eyes just might wonder and then what would I do?
You then must wonder why such a great girl could ever be crazy, but she was crazy toxic as John had pointed out. Her obsessive need to monitor, control and almost stalker like invade my personal boundaries as John called was unnatural. My brother was always a good judge of character and his insistent on getting a restraining order on Anna at first bother me but I trusted him, and so I followed his lead.
The birthday dinner had headed down a smooth path until my mother’s coughing had begun to take a turn unexpectedly leading the group to the ER.
The night had been a long night of complex words and endless emotions gathering within.
“This is it I know this is it.” Zoe cried out into her arms as John wrapped his arms around her reassuring her that things would be okay.
“Don’t think like that Zoe just have hope and faith anything is possible okay. If it is time know that there’s a reason okay.” John held Zoe tightly as if letting go was the last thing he would do.
The doctor had come and told us that we could say our goodbyes, and as much as Zoe had said it, we all realized that the moment had come.
The hospital was sterile, dull and at times noisy but the walk to my mother’s room was silent. It was so quiet I could hear my self-think and breathe.
“Are you afraid?” she asked me as her hand gripped mine firmly
“I should ask you that?”
“My sweet Jem what will you do?” she looked at me, and I could see fear a sensation I was all too familiar with.
“I will survive.” I smiled and kissed her bald head as her grip weakened.
“I don’t want you to see me like this you must go if you must be scared then my James fear death and live with Anna for me.” I left her room relieved and engulfed in agony knowing that she was dying with a lie but better dying happy than knowing that your husband is a cheater, you’re one child is an alcoholic and another a liar.
To be continued…