A few weeks after my brother died, I am sitting in Kevin the astrologer’s apartment in Chelsea. It has skylights and is decorated like a French chateau, but it is on 16th St in New York City. I am skeptical, but I need some answers. I do not want to give too much away about my brother’s death—I want to see what Kevin comes up with. Kevin breaths in and I make eye contact with him. The apartment is freezing, I am bone-tired. I try to sit up straight, and clear my throat.
My brother died. I want to know if there was money involved, was he robbed? There are several pounds of pot missing from my brother’s last harvest.
He grew marijuana. Yes, in a grow house. Yes, that is right, a house where they grow pot hydroponically.
Kevin looks at me with blue eyes, wide. He is a middle-aged man, gentle and sympathetic, unsure. I imagine what I look like to him. A wan 40-something woman with a straight middle part, wearing good cashmere and a man’s coat. Do I seem crazy? Then I remind myself, this is America.
He tells me about my chart. About how all the parts of my chart indicate a confluence of things occurring now. The baby being born is to replace my brother and shift my sadness, my lack of rootedness—a long cycle that has taken up the latter half of my life. He can see it—it will end now—this phase of my life has culminated in the death of my sweet baby brother. Do you want me to contact him?
I try not to show how desperate I am. How I want to contact my brother in any way possible. How I want to throw my arms around him and smell his smell. I pull his t-shirt that I have on up under my nose and breath deep. Okay. I shrug.
Kevin tells me how in the Celtic tradition, to die on Halloween is auspicious. The veils between this world and the otherworld open, and good spirits come back to earth. I think of my brother’s girlfriend from long ago, Cheyenne, who had died of an overdose from heroin when she was only 17. He had always felt responsible for her death. Had she come for him? I am angry.
He is in a kind of hospital for damaged souls. Kevin tells me. He did not mean to die, but now he is getting repaired for the afterlife. I do not think there was foul play.
I thank Kevin and leave.
Months later, on my way to work I am wearing the army coat I gave to my brother 15 years ago. He wore it constantly and now I do. I curl my fingers over the cuffs and I can see him doing the same. He had beautiful hands like my father’s, soft and kind, with smooth clean nails. He always waved his fingers in the air while he talked. His wild laughter made you laugh, too.. Sis he called me. I have to stop and catch my breath, as if I have been running. I am that winded with the sadness, and from the realization it is over.
I call my Dad. I tell him how I opened the locket this morning that I always wear and a tiny piece of paper I had put in there long ago fell out.
A wish. Sobriety for Brendan is written in pencil. What can I do with that wish, now? My father cries. That has always been my only wish. It has usurped any personal goals, any ambitions or dreams of my own. It has been my life long handicap, it kept me down.
Much of the time I cannot conjure memories. Is that how our mind protects us from tragedy? But today he is vivid, in color, and I can hear him and feel him. I want to be with him. And it hits me. My memories of him will end here. I will keep getting more grey hair, wrinkles, he will always be 39. That is the age he was when he died. I feel like I cannot turn away from him, I want to stay right there and go into the place where I hold the memories of him, where he lives now for me.
I suffered from extreme nausea, anxiety and depression during my first pregnancy. I had wanted desperately to get pregnant, but once the pregnancy happened, I was filled with anxiety and couldn’t stop crying. When I miscarried a baby girl at 19 weeks, I was heartbroken, but I relaxed. It is the same feeling I have now about my brother. The worst thing imaginable, happened. Now I just had to move through it. But how? I now have a healthy baby, a life full of possibilities, As long as my brother was alive and using, I could not see myself, my wish was for him.
I am free now. And that makes me sadder then any other thing ever has.