I didn’t think anyone was there…
I tried to modulate the sounds that seemed to come from the darkest places of my person, but they were louder than I expected.
I slumped in the seat and cried.
I’m not sure why I thought I was alone.
I was around 11 years old and in retrospect – as the 3rd of 5 children, being alone was seldom a luxury that I had at my disposal.
My older brother Alfie overheard me and came upstairs to invite into his room – and like he would so so many times over the course of our lives…
When the world saw cracks in my armor and it saw fit to swoop in for the kill.
Always put himself between me and the Leviathan – to put me back together.
In retrospect this was a critical juncture in my life.
I was involved in a tug o’ war of sorts.
I had a teacher who told me that:
“Little Black boys weren’t nothing but hoodlums in training, at best…”
And… I watched her laugh until her body shook.
A neighborhood nemesis who cornered me on a trip back from the library – and upon seeing the library books in my arms told me:
“Why you got all these goddamn books you fucking loser?”
And… I watched him laugh until his body shook.
It felt like I was drowning in disaffection, but my brother told me something that I always carried with me:
“Be cool brah, learn to look through people and then they’ll exhaust themselves trying to figure you out…”
He took his hat and placed it on my head and gave me a pair of his sunglasses to put on…
“Go sit over there…”
And I sat in the big chair that he had in the corner in the room while he gave me some instructions as I hung on his words.
“Fold your arms like this… Hold your head up, always keep your head up bro! And be like Mr. Spock and drop the emotion.”
And he took his camera and snapped this picture and I carried those words with me.
The picture that my brother snapped in the room.
When I faltered and when others choose the ease of abandonment.
My brother was ALWAYS in the forefront of those who came back for me.
And if I didn’t give words to the selflessness and sacrifice that YOU gave me over the years – then how could I be worthy of holding my head up?
So… On your birthday, I raise my glass to one of the Greats!
I am proud to be your brother, I reflect your light!
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