I didn’t give up on him, even when he had only 3 months to live.
Roger was an active, mischievous boy who was the apple of his grandma’s eye. Among all the other 14 grandchildren, he was the “smartest”, the “funniest”, the “cutest”. When he was seven and learning how to ride a bicycle, he fell. It sent everyone into frenzy, as he lay motionless on the gravel, bleeding from his head. Luckily, it was not serious. After that incident, everyone in the family treated him with even more care.
As his four-year-old sibling, I could not understand why I was always being delegated to the background, while my elder brother got the best of everything. One irritating excuse I always heard from Mother was that as the only son of the family, that is his birthright. What? I argued, are daughters not human beings then? I did not get an answer despite my stubborn persistence.
I was filled with an internal rage, and went around, busying myself plotting elaborate schemes that would be so foolproof that no one would be able to know the culprit. And with the typical naiveté of a sheltered 5-year-old and the recklessness of a drunkard, I plunged myself into senseless situations, which of course landed myself under Mother’s powerful cane. From a conspiracy queen to a sniveling mess, I vowed silently, even as I watched Roger’s crocodile tears, that I would get what I deserve.
Enter puberty - the most unassuming attack of nature onto its unsuspecting victims. At a time when raging hormones were flying around without any warning, my vengeances had somewhat withered and fade away. Roger had proven himself to be a worthy hero, after coming to my rescue time after time. I was spared several strokes on his account. I had asked him, why bother? “Because you’re my sister.” He had said in an exasperated tone, as though he have been explaining to me something for a long time, and I still did not get it.
Of course, I gave up on my ineffective methods to my salvation. Why waste the effort trying to bait the fish, if it would not bite? I was still wary of his intentions, but the anger was gone.
I begin to realize how stupid I was, to not make full use of such a wonderful brother. I did not exploit his time by getting to know him in my own way. Instead, I hid in my room in the afternoons, preferring to “chat” with strangers whom I may not even pay any attention to on the streets. I did not try to seek his advice, when my fragile heart was trampled to smithereens by a jerk who had as much common sense as me to get into a relationship at our age. Instead, I made him frown and fret for the entire night by sobbing into the phone to another girlfriend and attempting verbal suicide at least ten times throughout the entire conversation. Being a sole responsibility to him after the premature deaths of our parents in a car accident, I was simply keeping him out of my life, not a deliberate act on my part…just that I felt guilty for keeping all the bad thoughts about him in my head. I never truly understand or believe that he was the person he seemed to be. Until the day I had to call for an ambulance.
He had a blood clot in his brain. It was there for a long time, quite a number of years, the doctor said. He had to go for an immediate operation, or else he would slowly deteriorate and die. Even then, the odds did not look good. Following the next three months, I was a caregiver and part-time student. I prayed regularly, though I did not become a convert. After Roger died, I quit school and went to volunteer at a church.
During those three months, I tried to get to know the brother that I would soon bide farewell to. He could not talk comfortably, as he often had giddy spells and vomiting urges. I could tell he was in a lot of pain, and feeling embarrassed about it! It was pretty absurd, but I still managed to make him laugh. In retrospective, that was enough. I did feel guilty about the way I had treated him while he was still alive, but I know now that things could always be better than they are. Eventually, I went back to school and supported myself through college with the help of scholarships and my part-time job as a model. My wish, or should I say hope, is that I would make every person I know walk away knowing that. I’ll always keep you in my heart, Roggie. You will always be the best.
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