It should have been a milestone today.
My brother should have been fifty. There should be a wife and kids (and grandkids maybe!) celebrating with him, and nieces and nephews for an uncle like me to spoil.
There should, at least, have been cake. And possibly a party. I’m not one for parties, but I’m sure I would have tolerated this one. Hey, I’m very food motivated, and never fussy when it comes to free sugar.
I’m not sure if our parents would still be alive – who knows the effect losing a son has on your health? Probably not my dad, who would be 86 and smoked all his life. But my mum might still be hanging in there: She’d be 79 nine days later.
I’m not sure about my sister being there either. My brother did have a calming effect on the worst of her sociopathy – some of the time, anyway. She might have parked it for the day, but that’s a big might.
There should have been lots of stories to share about my brother: The odd puckered scar on his elbow from falling off skateboards and always hitting the same spot. The dart that entered just beneath his eye and was a centimetre away from blinding him. Blowing apart lightbulbs by putting blu-tac on top of them. The time he annoyed my mum up so much she started hitting him with the plug from the vacuum cleaner. The wads of paper he shoved behind the electric heater at the top of the stairs and yet somehow managed not to burn the house down. The Christmas he broke my dads ribs without either of them realising it.
But back in the real world, the stories all stop when he reached twenty, as old as my brother ever became. Somewhere out there is a woman who should have been his wife and never was. His kids and grandkids went unborn. There are no stories about how the two of them met, about how he proposed. No tales of pregnancies or first-borns. There are thirty years of blanks where there should be memories.
It should have been a milestone today, and it is.
But not for the right reasons.