So this morning, I was about to walk into my office building. I happened to glance over my shoulder before entering the building and saw a homeless man walking across the street. He was rail-thin and bald. He was wearing a backpack, sunglasses, and headphones, and walked with his head down. He was a pitiful sight. A body eaten away by drugs. A poster child for why children should just say no. I froze and stared. He didn’t look my way. My thoughts raced as I debated whether I should say something to him. Should I run across the street and catch up to him? Call his name?
How did I know his name? Why would I talk to him?
He’s my little brother.
And I chose to silently turn around and walk into my office building. The security guard inside had seen me staring at my brother. He gave me this raised-eyebrow look, like, "Yeah, look at that crazy guy." I stuttered, "Ummm, no, uh, that’s my middle brother." "Oh...sorry." "No," I said, "the look you gave me was right. Don’t worry about it."
I went up the elevator to my office. I looked out the window. I couldn’t see him anymore. Gone. Just like that. Almost like seeing a ghost.
When I think about it, I did see a ghost...a ghost of my past, a ghost of my childhood. A ghost of the brother I knew before methamphetamine and cocaine and LSD and pills and pretty much every other drug he could get his hands on turned him into a person I don’t know. Before he tore apart my family time and time again, and before he broke our trust a million times over.
And now I see him on the street, and he doesn’t see me, and I don’t say anything. I walk away because I don’t want to be hurt again.
My brother. My flesh and blood. How sad is that?