My brother was everything to me. I wish we had stayed together.
By Jeremiyah S.
Growing up, my brother and I were known as the twin towers. We're both very tall and we both played basketball. Lots of times we'd play together, and while I'm good, he's a bit better-well, a lot better. But whenever I missed a shot, he'd always just say, "Next time."
Other times we'd make special trips to the museum to look at the Chinese collection. My brother went to the High School of Art and Design, a specialized school where you are required to draw as if you are a renowned New York artist. At the museum he would sketch something so beautiful, and he'd make a copy for me.
Always On My Side
Like all brothers, Alfred could be annoying. At night, while I was trying to do my homework, my loving brother would come in and begin to sing at the top of his lungs. He'd sing my favorite song, "One Sweet Day," by my love, Mariah Carey, or some other song, and start to tickle me when I had all this work to do.
We'd have slap fights too, and try to beat each other ferociously till we saw blood or I'd start to cry. But he'd apologize because he was a gentle person and never meant to harm anyone.
What I really thank my brother for the most is for being so supportive when I was having troubles. When I first began to realize I was gay, my brother always made sure I was OK-defended me when straight guys were harassing me, and talked to me about how I was feeling, too. Basically, he helped me to get through it. One day I was home and once again I was mourning over my sexuality. I was just crying and crying. I could not stop and I felt his arms encircle me and just hold me until I couldn't cry anymore.
Late Night Gossip
He always said, "No matter what you do or become you will always be my baby brutha and I'm going to love you forever." That would wipe all of my tears away and put smiles back on my face. He just held me through everything I went through. Losses, pains, anguish and setbacks.
Some nights I'd sleep in his room. We'd talk secretly about my problems. And we'd talk about his biggest problem (girls!). We talked and talked, till we drifted off to sleep.
But when my mother remarried, the real problems began. My mom and brother had a lot of love for each other, but my stepdad decided that my brother and I were troublemakers.
My Stepfather Strikes
He was particularly on my brother's case. He told my mother that my brother was doing drugs and gambling, but I know I did not see the things he saw. I think he wanted my brother to be a saint, but my brother was just a lyrical daredevil (a.k.a. rap writer) who wanted his freedom, like all budding teenage boys do. He just wanted to hang out with friends and not run home as soon as school was over.
Still, my mom began to see it the way my stepfather saw it. She was always on our case for nothing. I couldn't believe my mom would believe her husband over her own son. I was hurt that she was putting a man before her kids.
Then one spring day it happened. My brother was tired of all the fighting and the verbal bashings, so he stayed out playing basketball till 9 p.m., which was way past his curfew. Hell got warmer when my brother walked through the door.
The memories of that night are too painful for me to want to describe. But eventually, my mother called the cops and had my brother arrested, and that was the last time I saw him for about a year and a half.
I didn't know where he was (turns out he was in a group home) and I cried a lot because only the good lord knows how much I missed him. I'd lie in my bed at night and think about him and pray for his safety and strength until my tears faded away.
I missed him most when I came home to his bedroom where I sometimes slept, and he wasn't there. I missed having someone to make goofy faces with. And I missed him in my thoughts and dreams. When he first left, I used to dream about him all the time. But after not seeing him for a year, sometimes I couldn't even get a vague picture of him in my mind. The thoughts and dreams I'd had about him so often seemed to have just vanished.
Facing Foster Care Alone
Then one day, out of the blue, my brother met me at school. I was in shock. I just stood there like I was stupid. I cut school and our graduation rehearsal to be with him. He told me everything that had happened to him, about going into care and life in his group home. He said that dealing with all the changes had been rough, and that he'd missed me too.
I was sad about all that had happened with him, but I was glad that I was with the person I loved the most. After that, though, it was a long time before I saw him again.
A couple of years after my brother went into foster care, I came to Green Chimneys. (I don't want to go into all the reasons why. Let's just say that as it turned out, it was really my stepfather who wasn't a saint.)
I was 15 then, and I'm 18 now. Lots of things have been hard about being in foster care, and if I had been able to be close to my brother during all this time-both when he was in care and then when both of us were in the system at the same time-I do think my days would've been easier.
I Wish I'd Had My Brother
I'm not saying we had to live in the same group home (after all, I live in a group home for gay and transgendered teens). But I wish we'd seen each other more. Because Alfred had been like a brother, a father and a best friend to me. But when I needed a trusted male figure to give me the answers to my problems or to help me out, he wasn't there.
I don't get to see Alfred much now. He's out of the system and he decided to move down to Mississippi, while I live here in New York. That's a couple of thousand miles from each other. We see each other a couple of times a year, and try to stay involved in each other's lives from a distance. But, you know how that is. It's hard.
I guess I have adjusted to being without him. But I still do miss him. So I wrote this in honor of my brother.
"Reprinted with permission from Foster Care Youth United, Copyright 200X by Youth Communication/New York Center, Inc. (www.youthcomm.org(link is external))."