An Open Letter to My Dead Brother, April 2015

Dear Connor,

The first of April has come and gone, so happy 20th birthday, little brother. When I had originally drafted this piece on February 23, and it had been exactly six years and five months since you died. Google says that’s about 2,344 days — or, as you would prefer, 202,490,275,166,666,688 nanoseconds. Sounds like a long time, right? Some days, it feels like it. Other days, it feels more like just a week has passed.

I’m still mad you’re gone, but over the past few years, my anger and frustration have started to feel more… empty.

I spend my weekends with kids who are five years younger than me — and more than a year younger than you! Remember when you used to ask me why I wouldn’t play with you any more, why I was too busy being a teenage “bwat”? I know you’re dead, but I’m still going to give you a hard time over your tongue “thwust”. (I’m your sister; that’s my job.) I wish you were still here for me to tease in person. I’m sure you’d be able to pull your own weight by now, too, and joke around with me on the same level.

I am lucky to be able to spend every weekend with my wonderful boyfriend and his equally delightful hallmates in their dormitory, but I can’t help but wonder about the person you would have become if you’d made it this far in life. Would you have facial hair? Would you be tall? Would you keep to yourself in your own quiet room? Would your hallmates be nice to you? Would you enjoy your classes? Would you have learned another thousand digits of pi? Sigh.

I also wish you were still here for me to hug. I feel like you abandoned the family. Mom and Dad have each other, but I was supposed to have you as a companion around the house and on family outings. We were a team. I’m sorry I stopped paying attention to you in my teenage years. I’d be better about that now. We could have repaired our friendship if you had chosen to stay long enough to try.

This past winter was the first Christmas for which we stayed home since you died. That was my doing, as I shared with Mom and Dad on our previous vacation that I was tired of feeling as though we were running away. Despite our yearly pilgrimage to paradise, I stopped appreciating the traveling. I needed to be home for a change. I needed the holidays to feel like they used to feel. I missed having Christmases at home, with both of us waking each other up all night in anticipation of our mountains of gifts, but I was ready to begin a new tradition and stop pretending you aren’t dead.

Staying home was eerie but wonderful. This year, instead of a crack-of-dawn unveiling of hundreds of surprises like we used to do when you were still with us, we slept in and exchanged just a few gifts in the living room. That’s also where we set up the tree, which was fake, for the first time ever, and Mom was the only one who bothered to hang ornaments. It was a happy compromise, sacrificing the normal family room Christmas celebration for a muted one in the living room instead, but we all got through it. December and Christmas both finally have meaning again. It was nice to actually celebrate rather than ignore the holidays. It almost felt normal.

You would enjoy my suffering through all of the turmoil going on with my work situation right now. I confessed to both bosses that I’m looking for other employment elsewhere, which was an emotional roller coaster of a confession. Boss 1 is a generous soul who has always loved and appreciated me, but I’m not vital to her practice. Boss 2 means well but does not feel human affection the way the rest of us do, so although I will soon be vital to her practice once her other paralegal leaves, I currently feel unappreciated and unsuccessful.

Perhaps Boss 2 falls on the autism spectrum like you did. It’s hard for me to know if she even likes me. She’s also out of touch with reality when it comes to living wages for paralegals, which is the only reason I need to leave, as I could tolerate the lack of interaction if I was being paid fairly. I feel that she does not know how to value our working relationship above simply seeing me as just another office expense.

I’ve been straightforward with both bosses about my intentions to save up enough money for graduate school so that I can pay out of pocket for all of my tuition and living expenses, and I need to do what is best for me. However, I also feel as though I’m breaking up with them, after our nearly eight-year working relationship. The sooner I receive an offer from one of the larger firms with which I’ve been interviewing, the sooner I can put this all behind me and work my tail off to achieve my savings goal.

Dad told me last weekend that he’s now semi-retired. Apparently, he’s tired of doing billable work, and being the boss, he can comfortably make the financial decision to curtail his professional career of more than thirty years. It’s weird to think that anyone under the age of 60 is of retirement age, but Mom is thrilled that she will be able to spend more time with him. They are currently traveling the country in her roadster, visiting podunk, mom-and-pop B&Bs along the way. And speaking of roadsters, Dad is considering buying a Tesla. He and Mom test drove one the other day, and you would have loved the futuristic feel of it. The sensory-activated car handles alone were enough to skeeve Mom out, not to mention the zero-to-60 mph acceleration that passengers can’t feel. You would have been jealous that they would not have let you drive such an expensive toy… Or maybe they would have given in. I don’t know.

Please come home. I have so many questions to ask and so many hugs to give you. I miss you. I miss us.

All my love,

Your heartbroken sister

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