I was the younger brother to my sister, my only sibling, but I still had two brothers. When I was five we moved around the corner into the house that I wasn't born in but do call it my childhood home. The new neighborhood was a world different then the one I came from. The neighbors next door had two sons at the time, Mike and Pete, Mike was my age and Pete was two years younger. I was a little boy who didn't know how to act around boys, I was small, skinny and prone to crying. The other neighbors, across the street, were older and meaner then anyone I had ever met before and would send me home crying to mommy more times then I would care to admit. Mike, Pete and I created a bound that I can't even understand even looking back at it as an adult. I learned about playing touch football, whiffle ball and jumping our bikes off mounds of dirt. Mike was the football player who could swim better then anyone I knew and Pete, even though he suffered with tourette syndrome, was charming, good looking and an incredible athlete even at 4 years old. When Mike was nine he started to suffer from spells where he would blank out and it was discovered that he had a brain tumor. One day he went to the hospital and came back with a shaved head and an enormous scar on his head. A summer of radiation treatments and he was declared cured and life went on.
We did all the stuff that brothers would do together, underage beer drinking, porn mags and cigarettes. We grew up, we went away to college, they moved across town. Other than a couple of Christmas gift exchanges, 2 wedding receptions and a wake, we lost touch. At Mike's wedding reception I found out that Pete was in rehab and wasn't doing well. I only saw him one more time a couple of years later. Then five years ago I found out that after being almost 25 years cancer free Mike was dying of what he thought he had been cured of so many years before. He died in the spring of 2003 and Pete was asked not to come to his funeral. He was not in any shaped to be there and his family had broken off almost all relations with him. Last month Pete died as well and even though no one was saying of what I knew it definitely was not cancer. Even though I hadn't seen him in almost a decade, I felt a very profound sense of lost with hearing this news.
I went to the funeral and when I heard Pete's youngest brother Kyle give the eulogy I was hit with that fact that this was a life that didn't need to be extinguished at 38 years old. As sad as Mike's death was I felt that he was living on borrowed time as it was and there was nothing that he could do about it. He had gotten married and had two great kids and was happy with his life. Pete on the other had had so much to offer the world and he used it to hurt himself and the people who were closest to him.
I don't know if I was involved in his life during our adulthood if I would have had any effect on his character or would have been just another person that he would have hurt, just like he had done to those who were closest to him. I would have like to have had a chance to have him hurt me and instead of sitting in that church and not only feeling bad for his parents who had to bury another child, but for myself for letting time and space come in the way of a friend that was more a brother to me than anyone else I have know since.