All posts tagged: Brother

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On Going to a Better Place: What I’ve Learned from My Brother’s Death

Originally published in the Loss Issue, 2016 I have a picture of my younger brother when he was four days old. I’m sitting on my parents’ black and white geometric-patterned bedspread, cradling him. It’s one of my favorite photographs. I’m the oldest, followed by my sister, 13 months later. Almost a decade passed before my parents had another baby. Bryce’s birth was momentous. He was charming from the first day, with a wide, impish grin. As time went by, my mother would say, Bryce is going to do great things: He has the brains, the work ethic, the brawn. When Bryce was thirteen, he started drinking. In our family, drinking wasn’t just about experimentation. No one in my family drank. At fourteen, when the cops called to say he had broken into our neighbor’s house on the hunt for cash to buy booze and drugs, my mother called me at college, desperate and knowing there was a real problem. What had begun as acting out for Bryce had become a salve for anxiety and depression. When my …

Siblings at Odds: He’s an Evangelical Preacher, I’m an Atheist

Sara with older brother. (Photo courtesy of Sara Gilliam) Is he a good person? Yes. Am I a good person? I try to be. Do I love him? Yes. Do I like him? What, like all the time? It’s complicated. This is us, 38 years ago. Look at those smiles. They aren’t forced. There’s love there, connection. We were born six years apart, too far to be peers or really even friends. This photo may have been snapped during our happiest time as siblings. Once I started talking, I became annoying. I’d belt out the Annie Soundtrack at the top of my lungs and he’d grit his teeth, knowing complaints wouldn’t get him anywhere. I would rat him out for the tiniest indiscretions. He’d kick me in the back seat of our VW Vanagon camper then smile innocently and shrug when my dad met his eyes in the rearview mirror. We were essentially two only children living in the same household. One handsome, athletic and wildly popular. The other chubby, musical and an abysmal social …

The Walker Kids Are All Right

Left: Meredith with her family. Right: Meredith in the middle of her older sister and younger brother. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Walker) We, the Walkers, are a tough crowd. Thanks to our loving and clever parents, we saw This is Spinal Tap in the theatre, which was pretty cutting edge at the time. We grew up memorizing lines from Raising Arizona and, when the Sunday comics were passed around, we knew why Doonesbury and Bloom County were funny. We made fun of each other like seasoned stand-up comedians, going for the laugh even if it was a little too sharp. When my sister Megan walked in after a particularly pixie-esque haircut, my brother Christopher looked at her and said: “Don’t ever do that again.” It was easy to get along for the most part because the three of us are close in age. My sister and I are 17 months apart, and my brother and I are 20 months apart. Megan is a Type-A firstborn; anything she does is done well, done to perfection. Trust …

When Number Two is Number One: My Big Little Brother

(Photo courtesy of Erin Donovan) Never forget. This is what we’re told about September 11th. Most of us couldn’t forget if we tried. The images of twisted steel and even more twisted faces have grabbed our memories with a grip that will not ease. What we remember differs from person to person depending on how close each stood to the epicenter. My dearest friend on the East Coast, who was working in the adjacent building, keeps the memories the media cannot convey — the moans of breaking metal, the smells of a city ablaze, the breath of a stricken populace racing by. My dearest friend on the West Coast remembers only that her local coffee shop didn’t open that morning. I, protected by the tall walls of a Missouri college that fateful day, have a dimming recollection of cancelled classes and a candlelight vigil on that particular 9/11, but September 11th has always been a day of seismic change for me. Because my brother was born that day. Shaun was the second and final child …