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I Miss You
Do you know that your picture is still left on my bedside table? I always fall asleep to your face, your smile. When I roll out of bed at a quarter to seven I always think I hear your feet landing on the floor in the room next to mine. My body is used to seeing you walk out in just your boxers with your hair standing up all over the place. I miss fighting with you to see who gets to shower first and when I stand with the water falling down my back I think of how you would stand here and do the same.
There is only one plate at the kitchen table in the morning not the usual two. The smell of coffee filling the morning air doesn’t make me gag now because Mom and I only drink tea with our toast. Before I go to school each morning, Mom always kisses my forehead, but it doesn’t feel the same with the warmth your forehead passed into her lips warming my cold skin when she kissed me.
I walk to school now with my only company being the honk of horns and the birds usually song and I do enjoy being able to clear my thoughts, but it hurts to not hear your voice. Mr. Lepelle, who owns the bakery on the corner, always gives me left over chocolate croissants. I don’t like chocolate it was always your thing, but I always smile and eat it as if I was you. When I look at the gothic church where we used to attend Mass every other Sunday when Mom didn’t have a night shift, I always see you looking awkward in your church clothes. Did you know you don’t look good in a tie?
The girls who you always said have ‘raccoon eyes’ always greet me in the morning like we were once friends. Occasionally, one of them will ask how you are as the others stand their mouths agape covered in silent horror. Mr. Vander always asks me how I am when I walk into the school it is strange though. I was in his class for a year yet he didn’t ever get his name right, but he knows it by heart now. Max always smiles at me shyly when I walk past his locker, but I can see the hurt that is brought up in his eyes when he sees me.
Sometimes, I see someone leaning up next to Lucy Fair’s locker and my heart jumps into my throat like it may be you, but then they always turn and end up being another silly boy. Lucy doesn’t ever look at other boys like she used to when you were around. Mom said she could see her heart slowly crumble each time she saw her like candlelight was slowly dying. Sometimes I say hello to her when we pass in the halls, but I always see her pull the copper locket out and look at the picture inside out of the corner of my eye.
At lunch I walk over to the shady oak where you used to sit to always find it occupied by stoners or lip locked couples, but I always sit down against the tree and they slowly trail away leaving alone. I can feel where your back used to lean against the wooden wall and the tree slowly changed to make it fit you. The grass has an indent where you used to always lay your water bottle that I can always see in my mind’s eye no matter how tall the grass is.
I whisper to myself sometimes under the shady foliage with your name rolling gently off my tongue. Greg. You always preferred Gregory, but I can’t call you that. You were Greg and I was Jess. Sometimes I cry under your tree and let the tears run down and fall because I was so used to you wiping them away. I remember clearing your face of tears after Daddy left, but even though you were two years younger you slowly became the older of the two of us and took the responsibility of taking my tears over the silliest things like boys and fights with friends.
When I let you come so close to me that memories bind me and tears lead me into a hole I can’t escape to complete the day there are always people who try to push me to go on. I’ll curl up in a ball beneath the tree and think of your life. You were nice to everyone even those who I know would want to put barb wire through your veins, you would sit in the park on Thursday afternoons and read to Lucy Fair because she loved your reading voice so much, you would go play lacrosse with Max even though you usually ended up with a few broken bones, you would play Scrabble with Mom when she had a day off since her busy schedule and the two of us that she didn’t have time for friends, and most importantly you were the best brother a sister could ask for.
Mom always knew that you were going to have to leave before your bride walked down the aisle, so did Daddy, but he left because he couldn’t handle losing a part of him. I knew too, but whenever I saw you smile I forgot about your disease and only thought about you. You knew and you always looked like it didn’t affect you, but I could always see when pain shot up through your lungs. When you doubled over and fell to the ground pulling with you the table cloth and the silverware fell with you I thought that you had just lost your footing.
I remember Mom’s scream as she ran over to you and how I ran as fast as I could to the first man on the street and dragged him into our house. The sound of the ambulance still rings in my head when I am not quite asleep and the white of the hospital walls still makes my stomach lurch whenever I picture it. The doctors were always silent and the African nurse with hair with golden beads in it always told me that they couldn’t pull his genes apart and sew the threads back together correctly.
I remember walking into your room with your skin as pale as ivory and brown hair laced with sweat only the soft beep of the heart rate monitor and the machine that kept you breathing cut the silence. You lay there with your eyes barely open trying to smile, but the reaper was slowly driving his scythe through your heartbeat. Mom had one of your hands in hers and I had the other each pulse of your wrist cut deeper into my heart because they came later and later after the one before. You had no last words you swallowed the rest of your strength to try and smile one last time. Mom cried out wrapping her arms around you and I stood shell shocked falling backwards onto the floor sobbing.
Lucy Fair came and she came up and kissed your sweaty forehead before taking a step back and wrapping her arms around Max who stood with his mouth open, salty tears falling onto his tongue. I stared down at you Greg and I felt something leave from within in me. Sleep didn’t come to me so many nights because of everything floating in my head. You were fifteen, only a freshman in high school when you had passed away, and you shouldn’t have. nothing you did ended your life. Your disease was a part of you; it was one of the cards rolled when you were conceived.
Your funeral was one a rainy Wednesday morning and there was a crowd. People who you didn’t even known came such as the stoners, lovers, and ‘raccoon eyed’ girls who we always walked by in the morning, and even people who had no connection to us or any of those people came to show their respects. We laid white roses where you rest creating a bouquet to honor your love and life. Daddy put a rose at the base of your tombstone and he walked away I could see him muttering your name and crying his eyes out.
Greg, I miss you. I miss looking up at you to meet your eyes because my little brother was so much bigger than I was. I miss the sound of your feet hitting the floor in the morning and fighting you to get to the shower first. I miss gagging on the scent of the coffee and the way the heat from your head warmed my kiss from Mom. I miss you eating your own chocolate croissant from Mr. Lepelle instead of having to choke it down yourself. I miss seeing you, and Max, and Lucy Fair all together in the hallways. I miss seeing you under the shady oak instead of me sitting beneath it. I miss your smile and how you gave everyone love and the thing that I miss most about you is seeing your face without looking at the picture on my bedside table.