Happy birthday brother. 14 years old huh? Yeah I remember being 14 too man. Its crazy how fast time flies. I’m out here trying to figure my life out. Its quite a long road ahead of me, but I think I can get through. You always believed I could.
And I always believed that you’d become something great in life. You have the talent, you have the brains, we’ve seen the good in you brother. Where did that go?
You began changing. It started with ignorance, defiance, making the same mistakes over & over again, causing conflicts between you & others. We would’ve thought the punishment for your actions would have you learn from those mistakes. It would seem that way, but it was apparently only temporary.
Your ability to lie became your noteworthy trait. To lie of your whereabouts & of your actions to the face of authority, mother. When you got into trouble at school that resulted in mother being contacted, you’d lie to claim innocence with a snap of a finger despite often being the offender. One could only imagine what you’d do if you ever got caught up with the official authorities. We’re glad at least that never happened.
We knew what would become of you as you grow if this were to continue. As a loving family, we did our best to prevent it. We tried to teach you better, to guide you in the right direction so that fear would go away.
Somehow our efforts still failed. As you grew, you began to be exposed to the people from the streets. The wrong crowd that is. Their influence grew strong on you. You grew jealous of how they could be out for however long they wanted. How they could be anywhere & didn’t need parental permission. Believe me I felt that way too.
Suddenly we turned into the bad guys to you. As if mother telling you to come inside at a certain time, to not go too far from home, or to stay away from particular places meant she was picking on you. Because your eldest & second eldest brother could do more than you. Yet, being the eldest brothers to you, we were more aware of the dangers in this world than you.
We carried enough responsibility & trust for things to be allowed. But you failed to prove yourself many times. Such as being late to come inside, going places where you weren’t suppose to go, or being nowhere to be found when you were needed. Hence why you were always limited.
You were often a hot-headed one who was quick to want to fight when there was tension between us. Believing that you carried the toughness & strength to take on 100 men. You were reckless, wild, you would yell & back talk to the woman that gave birth & raised you when things didn’t go your way. Something we learned to not ever do.
Even after the punishments, you still went about your rebellious ways. The streets began to tighten it’s grasp on you as you continued to disobey & roam about with your “friends”. You carried that ghetto mentality which had you doing inexcusable things. Stealing from your own family, smoking, fighting. I told you that you were becoming the very person your own family expected you to be. But you constantly said you’d prove us wrong. Even after I warned you of the dangers in the streets & the anticipation of your failure, your ignorance made my words to you go through one ear & out the other.
I just don’t understand. Have we done wrong to you or something? Was it wrong for us to try & steer you in the right direction early? We told you about the dangers in this world, we warned you about the dangers around the corners, you said you understood but yet you still went out to those corners. Not once did you ever stop & think that your life could come to an abrupt end? Or did you keep thinking you were invincible & that your toughness could have you prevail through anything?
I’m angry at you brother. I’m angry that you did not heed our warnings, that you did not preserve our guidance. You were given chance after chance for redemption, but you never ceased to fail. But most of all, I am angry at you for what you’ve put us all through.
Mother told you not to go anywhere. It was as if she sensed the danger nearby. You said you’d obey, but the moment she left for work why am I not surprised at what you’d do? I couldn’t believe our last conversation was minutes before you decided to head out the door with “friends” once again. We were talking about how you couldn’t wait until you were 18 so we’d have our match in a boxing ring since you’d be a grown man then. It was something you’d never forget.
Something told me to go find you & bring you home. A big hunch that insisted I find you as quickly as possible. I went out searching through the neighborhood. I heard a sudden burst of gunfire out of nowhere. I hid because of how close it sounded. But I felt some sored of pain in my heart. I ran as fast as I could to where they went off. As I ran, I seen your friends running in the opposite direction away from danger. I put my own self at risk finding you because I sensed you were in trouble. I ran into a park, over by the basketball courts, & there I saw something I prayed to God I’d never see.
Brother, you were told not to go anywhere. You were told to stay away from those “friends”. Common sense was your ultimate flaw, just as any other black male in the ghetto. Had you actually obeyed, you wouldn’t have been lying there in a pool of your own blood with bullet holes in your chest. The sight devastated me. You called those people that ran & left you for dead “friends”? I was the only one out there screaming until more people came to aid. But there was nothing to aid. You were already gone.
How could you allow me to see your body wrapped in a bag & carried into an ambulance?
It was even worse to find out you caused your own demise. You & your “friends” tried to rob someone who unbeknown to you, was carrying a loaded gun & was quick to fire off at the first offender, you.
You always felt you were so tough to where you’d be able to stand no matter what came at you. When those bullets hit you, did you finally realize just how fragile you truly were?
I cannot believe that you did not stop & think about how we’d all feel having to bury your body 6 feet under. I cannot believe you made mother & all of us mourn & cry like that. I hated you brother. Because you put us through all that pain for what you did. After all the effort we put into trying to make you better than what you saw yourself to be, you destroyed it all yourself by becoming another victim that was slain by the streets.
I always knew that one day you’ll lose your parents & elders in the family. Because their time will come long before ours does. I myself figure that as the eldest brother, that I would be the first of us to pass at the end of life. You were behind me brother, not ahead of me. Nothing ever had me prepared to turn around & see that you weren’t there behind me. That you passed on ahead of me before I did. Why brother? Why are you not there anymore?
They say one of every three children born in the ghetto, falls to the ghetto. And it took you with its sharp claws my brother. It took you, stripped you from all the goodness in your heart, & then finished you off by using your greatest flaw against you. My own brother, so young, so full of potential to be something more. I failed you.
I failed to be that big brother to protect you. Even after I tried with all of my energy to turn you around, it just wasn’t enough to save you. We were a trio of soldiers to mother. We were suppose to always stick together. As the head of the trio, it was my responsibility to protect both of you. I’m so sorry I failed you.
Everything broke apart after you departed. I wanted to be angry at your “friends” for bringing you to this end, but it wasn’t their fault. I wanted to be angry at the person that shot you to death, but it wasn’t his fault. I wanted to angry at you for leaving us, but that wasn’t rational.
But something I will always remain angry at, is the streets for taking my brother just as it takes majority of the youth. And I’m to call this place my “home” still after it took the life of another young brother that was my own blood?
When will it end? Why did it have to be you brother?
When will this all cease?