After Your Brother Is Murdered

After your brother is murdered, there will be a canyon-wide divide between Before and Now.

You can look across, you can stand on the very edge and you can reach, but you can never get back to the other side.

On the other side is where he exists. He is still alive there. He laughs and he plays and he smiles. If you close your eyes and listen, you can still hear the echo of his fingers on the guitar.

On your side is right now. It is work. It is nieces to take care of, bills and dogs and a house. It is your mother crying. It is an empty chair at Thanksgiving. It is prescription bottles and therapy appointments. It is learning words like “exsanguination.”

It is seeing autocorrect trying to change that word to “extermination”.

And it’s like this forever.

Between you is the canyon, carved deep with a knife 24 times. It is your brother’s back and his neck and his hands.

It is his heart.

After your brother is murdered, you view his body in a funeral home. He is cold, wearing clothes that aren’t his, and he is still and quiet and gone.

You replay the last moment you touched him while you walk in a daze through a Walmart, because it was a Walmart where you saw him the last time.

You have to step out of line in a Walgreens because they’re playing “Dust In The Wind” over the radio, and that was the song he played for your mother. It’s the lyrics she has tattooed on her arm.

You start smoking again.

You have surgery and he isn’t there to watch your name on the board like the last time. The nurses don’t tell you how protective he is about where you were and where you were going next. He doesn’t help you get your shoes on. He doesn’t drive you home. He doesn’t pick up popsicles for you, or watch movies with you because you don’t want to be alone.

You get to read what people write about the man who killed your brother. They say he is a “nice guy.” They say he “made a mistake.”

They say he deserves a second chance.

And you think, why? Your brother was a nice guy. Your brother deserves a second chance.

Your brother paid the ultimate price for a mistake that wasn’t even his.

You sit in the front row when the judge gives your brother’s murderer 20 years to 40, and you don’t feel better.

After your brother is murdered, you don’t trust anyone. Coworkers. The man behind you at the gas station. The person driving in the lane next to you. You don’t trust tomorrow. You don’t trust the world, or whatever God there might be, and most of all, you don’t trust yourself to bear it.

On your side of the canyon, your brother is a pile of ashes in a box on a shelf. On the other, he is in bed, asleep.

But you can’t cross a divide 24 stab wounds deep.

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