My younger brother hadn’t heard from his father in a few months. But this is not unusual for their relationship as they could go months on end without talking. They had a unique way of communicating. They usually communicated through other people in the streets, “Have you seen my Dad around lately?” or “I saw your father he told me to tell you to come by and see him.” Well, the fall of 2013, my brother had been asking around about his father for a few months and everyone continued to tell him, “no, I haven’t seen your Pops.” Christmas morning of 2013, after the kids opened their gifts and everyone enjoyed a light breakfast, my brother said he was physically moved to go to his laptop and type the words, “homicides in Kansas City” to do a search for his father’s name. I imagine he held his breath as he waited to be satisfied that this intuitive notion was simply a crazy thought. However, the search was conclusive, September 16th his father had been murdered.
My brother was screaming in the phone. I haven’t heard him scream since he was a young boy perhaps frightened by a spider. The sound of this chilled me to my bones. A piercing baritone is not melodic. It shatters the musical science of healing and bends wavelengths. My breath sat in my throat. His father was stabbed in September and died a few weeks later in early October. A search for funeral services or posted obituaries turned up nothing. See, his father was a loner, a rolling stone. The online documentation stated he was stabbed several times in the chest and once in the heart during an argument on 39th and Main. My brother was flattened at the thought that his father probably went into surgery and never gained consciousness to give the name of a next of kin. He died alone. My brother’s Christmas turned into Memorial Day.
His father’s estranged family lives in Arkansas and my brother hadn’t spoken to them in over 20 years. For some reason, the majority of those years his father told him his grandfather and uncle were dead. I suppose he didn’t want to explain why they were estranged if my brother wanted to speak or meet them. But a few years before he passed, my mother was able to find out they were in fact alive and well. After his father’s passing, my mother once again put on her detective hat and was able to find their contact information. She gave it to my brother and we sat all aflutter as we waited to hear how the reunion went and if they knew about his death. My brother called back with slight resolve. His father did die alone. But the police were able to locate his grandfather and uncle as next of kin in Arkansas and they claimed the body from the morgue and had him cremated. His father’s remains were with his immediate family.
The other day, my mother told me my brother contacted her and said he was feeling his father these days. I suppose every September will present sadness to him. I know exactly what he’s feeling because for me, it’s June. My grandmother died some 10+ years ago in June and every year around the week she passed, a purple headed hummingbird flies towards me and then stops within arms reach. Probably sounds crazy but I know I’m not imagining this every June. For my brother maybe it will be the leaves falling or the cooler nights, but something will always be different about September for him. Like this text he sent my mother the other day:
No baby brother, tears aren’t for clowns and you aren’t done crying. Let’s just say, sometimes the thought of him will simply spill from your eyes and roll down your cheeks. And that is okay.