i remember it like it was yesterday, two little boys playing in the sheets. hide and go seek, building forts in the living room trying to find neverland. i remember your brown eyes, wispy black lashes and painted face. i remember laughing in the dark with flashlights blinding the comic books we drew together. i remember holding hands in the backseat of our family van, during winter when dad went away.
it’s not the way you loved me that i miss. it’s the way you looked at me with glossy eyes, the way you said i’d be safe forever. the way you hugged me when i got hit. the way you tucked me in when i was sick. your love for me, as a child, was that of a mother. you always looked out for me. you helped me on the bus, you drove me to school, you even smiled at me while we passed each other in the hallways. we dreamt dreams together. we found solace in each other. we were best friends, soul mates.
i miss your smile, your wispy black lashes and glossy brown eyes. i miss the way you held my hand when i was scared, the way you fought off the bullies at school. i miss the way you tucked me in when mom was sad, the way you let me read my stories to you, the way you believed i could do anything. i miss your child-like laugh, your tears on my shoulder, your rosy cheeks in the winter. i miss the brother i used to have.
i’m twenty-three years old now. you’re twenty-six. it feels like there’s a whole lifetime between us. i stay up late at night just to make sure you’ve made it home safe. you don’t know this because i pretend to be asleep on the couch. you haven’t had a conversation with me in years. we never talk about mom and dad. we never talk about what we went through as kids. that’s okay, though. i’d rather remember the times we visited neverland.
i write words from the soul because it pains me too much to keep them inside. it feels like my soul is being ripped from my chest. the words suffocate me. i can’t breathe. and in the night, after you’ve safely tucked yourself in, i cry myself to sleep because i just want my brother back. i want to build forts with our bedsheets in the middle of the living room again. i want to read my stories to you as we both fall asleep. i want to play catch in the backyard with the dog we used to have. i want you to know that i still love you and that i need you now more than ever before.
i know that i’ve been consumed by this disease. it haunts me every waking moment. it makes mom cry at night. it makes dad stare at the floor with hollow eyes. and it makes me want to drive my car right into a tree. it makes me want to escape this life because somedays are just too much for me. i hate not being able to live away from this house that has tortured me since i was an innocent child. it’s like a prison with barred windows and no key to unlock the door. and the warden is my own mind. and i’m the only prisoner.
this life–my life is a lonely one. all it is is staring out a window when it raining out. it’s listening to music in the dead of night, writing fervently with no end in sight. it’s talking to myself in the middle of class with a thousand eyes staring me down. it’s raging with madness and breaking glass in my room. it’s all about taking pills and throwing them away. more pills. more doctors. more advice that doesn’t seem to do anything. you know i’ll always be sick. you know i’ll always be a little off. but you also know that i’ll always be your brother.
if i ever spoke to you again, i would tell you how much you saved my life. if it wasn’t for your companionship and compassion when we were kids, i don’t think i would have ever made it out alive. there’s been two battles in my life. the first one was family addiction and abuse. and with your guidance we both won that battle. but i’m afraid i’m losing the second. the one inside my mind. the one that the voices control. the one that the delusions and hallucinations rule, making me crawl on the floor in the middle of the night. the one that stole my child-like innocence. the one that makes me want to tear my flesh from my bones. i’m exhausted, i’m burnt out. i don’t think i can win this one. i know i have a lot of people who love me but if they’re not physically holding my hand through the hallucinations, if they’re not consoling my cries, if they’re not whispering stories in my ear while i dig my nails into the wall then they’re not really here with me now.
you used to be there for me. you used to rub my back while i cried profusely during the night. you would come into my room when i screamed for help because the hallucinations where too much to bare. you used to whisper your favorite songs into my ear to try to bring me back to reality as i stared and gazed endlessly, for hours on end, at the walls in our house. you used to be my guardian angel. but now i think i’ve lost you.
tell me what i can do to bring you back into my life. i know you’re scared of me, everyone is really. but there’s no way i would harm any of you if i was in my right mind. you don’t have to lock your doors anymore. you don’t have to walk on eggshells around me. you don’t have to whisper to each other when someone dies. you don’t have to be afraid of your only brother because you know the real me. perhaps, i’m just trapped inside somewhere with the lights off. perhaps, i’m somewhere to be found. all you have to do is put forth effort, have faith, and come find me. come find me in the cornfields like how you used to do during halloween. come find me in the snow fort we built during snow days. come find me in the dark when we played hide and seek during the night.
i want my life back. i want a lot of things but i don’t think anything will be the same. it hasn’t been the same since i turned nine. that’s when the lights went off in my brain. that’s when the voices invaded my head. that’s when i started seeing papa’s ghost downstairs, sitting in the recliner chair like he used to when he was alive. i want to feel my spirit again. i want to be free. i want to be me.
let’s go find neverland, together like we did when we were innocent. let’s have a date in our imaginations, in our dreams. let’s tell stories to each other again. let’s take a road trip and see the wonders of the world. i don’t know how much time i have left. i don’t know when the lights will never turn back on. i don’t know if i’m ever going to be whole again. perhaps, i’ll never return to reality. perhaps, i’ll never recognize you again. maybe, i’ll walk the streets instead of sleeping. i need you to be with me because it’s dark in here and i can’t see. i need you to guide me out of this hell i’m constantly stuck in. i need you to hold me like you used to when i was having cold-sweat nightmares. i need you to come back.
be with me now, here as i am in this moment. let these words tell you my story. let these memories forever be apart of your heart, wherever you go. be with our child-like souls. be with them in your dreams tonight. let them make you laugh and cry. let them make you feel again. all i want is your word that you’ll never leave my side. just let me know you love me still. let me know you’ll always keep faith and believe. keep finding hope in all things obscure. keep going toward the light when it gets dark. keep your head up high because you’ve survived. keep finding neverland.