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A brothers memoir




David Aaron O'Scanlon

There is a dead spider at the bottom of the light cover. A clear globe. Been hanging there for years. The globe, and probably the spider. I never noticed - either, until now...staring straight up at it. Walked under it a thousand times..grabbing a slice of pizza...laughing with friends...over the years. My brother's house. Hugging him...fighting with him...laughing with him...pleading with him...worrying about him...and always, loving him. Stood right here a dozen times over the last year...silent...holding my breath...staring at him in his still...wondering, is he asleep?....or is this it? Then he’d breathe and wake with a start. Happy to see me. Not knowing that for a long moment just before I stood on the edge...of life with him and life without him. No matter what, always praying for the former. Alcoholism had taken its ugly toll on him, on us. But the fighting now, his and mine....and ours, is over.

Now I stand here...staring up, at that dead spider...shriveled up in the light fixture. This time tumultuous friend, my love....of the past 50 years...was upstairs, right above this light..dead. The police and first aid were there, not yet breaking the news. But I knew the feigned urgency. I knew he was gone well before they told me. Well before we broke down the door. Before I pulled into the lot, the tears I’d avoided for so long, were there.

It’s been just over a year since that day. And I’m not sure why I write now. I started out telling myself it might help other families struck with addiction to know they’re not alone. But it may really be as much about a selfish desire for absolution, or at least confession, as anything noble. Absolution for everything I didn’t do. Maybe every family member of every addict feels this way at some point. For those that have, or still do, you’re not alone. That’s all I have to offer, for whatever small value’s there. 

My brother was a great man. He was fun and talented and smart. He loved his kids with all his heart and hated that alcohol was keeping them from him, and he knew, would eventually take him away from all of us. He was funny as hell and had a memory of our childhood better than mine even after decades of self abuse. He could balance a table on his chin and sound more like an Irishman than anyone born and raised there. 

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