If you haven’t read part 1 or part 2, what you need to know is that my brother and I were separated when we were 7 and 13. We didn’t get to see each other for another eight years. This last installment starts at the first time we saw each other again.
My cousins, Nan and Jay, and I walked up to the house where my brother was living. It was a nondescript house you’d find in any middle-class Southern Californian suburb, but it was so strange to us. When my brother came to the door, I was so glad that I had brought Nan. She unabashedly gushed–hugged him and told him how glad we were to see him. She expressed what I wanted to, but my guilt didn’t allow. Jeffrey was a teenager in high school, no longer the first grader that I had left behind. In hindsight, I can say it was like seeing one of your former students. They’re different, but yet you can still the younger version in them.
We visited over lunch and found out that Jeffrey had been living with this family that he barely knew. He wasn’t being treated very well and it turns out my mom hadn’t given them the money they expected. This sounded familiar. When we were in elementary school, we lived with our sitter Monday through Friday. It was an inexplicable arrangement since our parents lived just ten minutes away. We actually loved staying with our sitter and her daughters, but one day things seemed tense, uncomfortable. I found out later that my mom had stopped making the payments she promised.
I don’t remember the details of my brother’s story, so many years later, but what I recall is that I was so upset that my parents had put my brother in this situation and hadn’t come to his rescue immediately. I also remember the guilt I had because I couldn’t take him with me. I was living in an apartment with three other women, working three jobs, and trying to finish college.
That afternoon we had to leave my brother in this strange home. While I was elated to finally see him again, I was also dejected by my inability to really help him.
Fortunately, it wouldn’t be long until my mom and stepdad returned to California themselves and removed my brother from his situation.
My brother and I now live two miles away from each other and I know that I’ll never allow us to be separated like that again.