"I had to be more than just a brother, I had to be a father. And I had to be a mother..."
“I was the only one who could stop him from crying by climbing into his crib, even when I was too scared and upset to talk.
I was the one who changed his diapers, and bathed him when Dad was just a shell.
I was the one who walked him to kindergarten on my way to school.
I was the one who made sure he had a lunch to eat, even if it was just a snack. And even if it meant I went hungry.
I was the one who patched up every cut and scraped knee. I was the one who wiped up every tear, and carried him back to the motel via piggyback.
I was the one who told him stories at bedtime, even if I couldn’t fully make out the words myself.
I was the one who helped him learn how to read and write.
I was the one who cooked for him when Dad would take off for days at a time.
I was the one who shared a bed with him after he’d have nightmares. I was the one who held him close and told him that nothing was ever gonna’ happen to him after Dad’s response was to give him a ‘45.
I was the one who stole Christmas presents from the nice house down the street just so Sammy wouldn’t wake up and think that Santa had forgotten him. Again. And I was the one who had to tell him Santa wasn’t real.
I was also the one who told him that monsters were real.
I was the one who rode him to the ER on my handlebars after he jumped from the roof and broke his arm.
I was the one who took care of him when he’d get sick.
I was the one who made sure he had clothes that actually fit him after each of his twelve-billion growth spurts. And I was the one who comforted him after the endless bullying he’d receive at school because those clothes had come from the thrift store.
I was the one who stood up for him every time someone picked on him in school.
I was the one who stole textbooks for him so that he wouldn’t fall behind.
I was the one who had to work an ungodly amount of hours at the garage to earn enough money so we could eat when Dad would spend weeks gone in our teens.
I was the one who scraped together the money for Sammy to go on every field trip his school put on so that he wouldn’t miss out, even if it meant not going on my own and losing class credits.
I was the one who watched him fall deeper and deeper into an ugly pit during his teens when he barely had the motivation to get himself out of bed. I was the one who had to remove meds or anything sharp from the motel, just in case. I was the one who sat awake by his bed every night during that period, panicked that my little brother was going to do something stupid.
I was the one who bought him his first laptop, and the look of pure disbelief and unadulterated adoration was worth every hour of overtime I’d done for the last three months.
I was the one who dropped him off at Stanford after Dad told him not to bother coming back and kicked him to the curb.
And I was the one who spent three years living in constant fear because my little brother was at Stanford all alone.
I did all of that, without anyone having to tell me to. So you look me in the eye, and you tell me if that was fair?”