“If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels, and if you haven’t, you cannot possibly imagine it.”
It was a Friday, the last day before winter break.
I was a senior in high school. 17.
I’d gotten home late that night because I’d been out partying with my friends. Funny, I can’t remember who now or what we were doing. When I got home, my mom told me to call my dad. “Okay, I’ll call him in the morning,” I told her, mindful of the 3-hour time difference.
“No. Call him now.”
What could be so important that I need to call him at 2 in the morning? I thought.
“Markus didn’t make it.”
“Didn’t make what?” Another album? The team? In time for the bus? What are you talking about?
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my brother had been in the hospital, his organs and tissues trying to make sense of the mess that 5 gunshot wounds left his body in. And the decision had been made not to tell me so that I wouldn’t be worried in school all day.
But I didn’t call him! I thought.
The last time I’d spoken to my brother was some months before and he had given me his new cell phone number. A number I would never use. When I found the paper I’d scribbled it on later, it felt like an accusation. “This is the kind of person you aren’t.”
I went to work the next day. I was a zombie. Until Janet Jackson’s “Together Again” came on, at which point I was an ocean.
That was 11 years ago.
I’ll never be an aunt.