I’m at my brother’s house about an hour outside of Chicago, in a place called Wonder Lake. I wasn’t planning on staying the night, but he asked me to so I did. That may not be a good enough reason for some, but for me it is. We’ve always been quite distant. Ever since he went off to the Marines when he was maybe 18 years old there has been very limited communication between us. I always try to visit with him when I’m in town, but at some point, many, many years ago, I had to resign myself to the fact that we weren’t ever going to be close. Thus, when he asks me to stay over, I accept. The simplest of gestures on his behalf are food for my soul.

He’ll be 50 years old in a couple of months, although he’s physically perhaps much older than that. He’s pushed the limits of various substance abuses (and hard living) in his life and it’s catching up to him. In the last several years, he’s been saying he would be dead by 50. By all accounts it looks like he’s going to be making it, although I asked him directly to not take his own life just to prove a point (which in some sad way I think would be possible).

He’s gotten his life much more squared away in the past year so he seems to be on an upswing after hitting something resembling bottom a couple of years ago. It’s very nice to see.

The sweet thing about our relationship, which has always been one, in my opinion, of his getting off on abusing me to one extent or another, is that I really feel his love and acceptance of me in a way that I don’t think I have ever before in my life. It’s even starting to be expressed (he hugs me when I get there and when I leave), and through words (“you know, you’re not too bad“), etc. And he also, the last many times I’ve seen him, has not been teasing me or giving me shit, which has been the hallmark of our adult (and even childhood) relationship.

I write this I guess just to acknowledge that I’m happy to have my brother back. I think it speaks to the power of love and of standing by someone’s side no matter what.

I’m hopeful that perhaps he’ll stop smoking and drinking as if he does, I think he can add at least 10 more years to his life, but there has always been a self-destructive streak in him. I’ll work on him a little bit today in encouraging such changes. Miracles do happen, and in a way, they’ve already happened here. I never thought he’d actually call me (he’s never been one to call or write, ever) to see if I was coming over, and he did yesterday.

Steve, I do love you. Thanks for asking me to stay here, for wanting me to be here, for joining me for a drive when I needed to run out for a business meeting yesterday, for not making fun of my desire to not eat meat (previously would have called me a California vegetarian fag or something to that effect), for ordering a pizza rather that subjecting me to steak, for being downright cordial. I’m with you buddy, you’ve always got a brother with me.

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