I went in to work at my company’s office here in San Francisco, in the “up and coming” Design Destrict that is borderline Portrero Hill where tech startups are signing leases, and where homeless men peeing while smiling at you as you are walking to a food truck is completely normal. A colleague whose sister lives in my parents’ neighborhood was nice enough to offer me a ride home afterwards. As we were exchanging notes on overprotective parents, he asked if I had any siblings. “Yeah, I have an older brother,” I said. He’s dead, but you don’t have to know that, the voice in my head said silently.
It’s such a normal, everyday question to be asked if you have any brothers and sisters. No one thinks anything of it. I freely ask people all the time if they have siblings. But now that Ed isn’t here, I really hate the question. It’s like I have to pretend that everything is normal, that yes, I do have an older brother, and of course he’s around! No one wants to know if you have any family drama, or if your sibling died in some freak accident, or if he committed suicide. How do you go about telling people about your sibling who is no longer living anymore, anyway? If you never talked much about your siblings before, why would you suddenly start just because they are dead?
I still have a couple of friends I haven’t told. Part of me thinks they wouldn’t really care – we weren’t that close to begin with. I don’t really care to share the information because it would just cause me needless anguish, and they don’t gain anything from it, anyway. I don’t want any more pain.