I lost a brother yesterday. Not one of blood or marriage, but one of friendship and time. Someone that I’d seen rarely in the the last ten years, but each time it felt like not a day had gone by. He was my hero and my friend.
When I first met Bill I was just a little girl barely ten years old. He and my brother, both fifteeen, met through a mutual friend that year and struck up a friendship that lasted twenty years.
I developed my first little girl crush that still warms my heart to think about. My brother had lots of friends and to most I was the pain in the ass kid sister that would hang around, but didn’t get noticed. Bill became my hero that summer and took his place in my heart.
The mutual friend that my brother and Bill shared was an interesting sort. He would do things like pull my hair or flick me with his comb which left marks on my legs. I always tried my best to avoid him, I guess I thought because everyone else liked him that maybe I just brought out the worst in him. To be honest he used to scare the crap out of me. On more then one occasion this boy would corner me somewhere and be so close I could feel his breath on my face when he talked, but most of the time I got away. One day that first summer I wasn’t so lucky. Then in came Bill, around the corner to grab a pop, the boy stopped dead in his tracks hand on my arm. Bill told him to back off and told him that if he ever touched me again he’d kick his ass. The boy went back down the hall and Bill asked me if I was alright. He told me to look him in the eye and promise him if the boy ever came near me again I would to tell him immediately. I promised and the boy never bothered me again. That day when I looked into his eyes I saw concern, strength and compassion, the kind I have rarely seen since.
When I was a little girl I used to backwash when I drank pop. My family called it “Cindy Spit” and that is why no one should ever share a drink with me. It was meant as a joke and it didn’t bother me until they did it once in front of Bill. I was horrified that they brought it up like it was the end of the world. Bill saw my expression, picked up my pop, took a big drink and said while smiling at me, “It tastes alright to me.” It became like a little ritual, he come in grab my drink take a swig and go on about his business. I remember when I was twenty I hadn’t seen him in a while, he took my glass took a sip and his eyes went wide. It wasn’t Kool-Aid in that glass folks and I think that was the day I quit being the little girl in his eyes. It seems so funny now, but he always did that even the last time I saw him at his house during a TupperWare party. I remember he took a drink from my glass while he was giving me the tour. He said, “Everything alright?” and I said yes. Then we went back up stairs. Truth of the matter was things weren’t alright and we both knew it and even though years had gone by he was telling me that if I needed him to, he would listen. Nothing more was said, nothing needed to be said and he was still my hero.
So now as I sit here drinking my water and typing this out, with tears falling from my eyes I try to put into words the loss. Time goes on, we get older, but a hero is for life and even longer.