Ezra and I share something that totally sucks to share: we have both lost our younger brother.
It’s a cold, hard fact that I have known since Liam died, but it’s been – oddly enough – not that obvious to me until yesterday. I suppose it’s most likely because Ezra is so young, or it’s because we just haven’t talked about Jonathan that much with him (that has been somewhat unintentional, but life is hard for him to understand right now without the complication of understanding what happened to Jonathan).
Yesterday was Jonathan’s 33rd birthday. He died prior to turning 21, so every year since then, I make some time and go and buy him a drink. It makes for a somewhat awkward conversation with the waiter/waitress because they don’t want to serve me two drinks right away, but we get through it, and I get him a beer. It sits there untouched while I down mine, and I walk away from the table every time wishing that he were there to finish the drink with me. Sometimes I have done this ritual with friends, and sometimes it’s been with family, but yesterday I wanted to go by myself. So, I gathered my things and told Ezra that I would see him after his nap…and then came the question that I wasn’t prepared for: “Where are you going?”
The question in and of itself sounds innocent and simple enough. But I know Ezra, and he had inquisitiveness to solve. My reply was a lame attempt at a non-full-truth, but he pressed on. Soon enough, we arrived at the part of the conversation that I could see coming for miles: “Who is Jonathan?” “Jonathan is my brother, and today is his birthday, so I am going to go and buy him a drink.” “When are we going to go to his house to have a party?” “Jonathan died a long time ago.” “His heart stopped working too?” “Yup, just like Liam’s.” “Oh, ok.” and even though he was verbally matter of fact about it, during the conversation, his mind was spinning trying to comprehend what he was being told. I can’t tell you how sickened I was to have to tell him this news (although he’s heard it before) when he can now somewhat understand what it means. I was on the edge of tears as I realized that we have this terrible thing in common….and that now he gets it.
At least the beer was good.