I was sitting in the restaurant having lunch with my girlfriends that Saturday he came up and gave me a big hug. He smiled charmingly at my friends as I introduced them. Before I could say who he was, he told them all I was his baby sister. They looked at me questioning.
Yes, this was my brother. This was the guy who had done drugs for the last ten years, who could not hold a job, who had gotten to the point where all he did was sit home and snort crack. He noticed my ring, the reason why my friends and I were out that day, a celebration of my engagement as we planned the wedding.
“What? Stacy, you have been married about six times already, come on.” My girlfriend, Carla, leaned in and asked “He really doesn’t know you very well to be your brother, does he?”
No, he did not. My brother had left mentally years ago. He put drugs ahead of family, he was not there for our mother’s surgery or our father’s funeral. He only called one of us when he needed money or to be bonded out of jail. Daryl just could not be bothered by anything except getting his next fix.
He asked when I was getting married and I told him on our dad’s birthday. He shrugged and hugged me and said, “Call me.” How could I call someone who did not have a phone? Who did not ask how our mom was, how the rest of the family was, and who could not even keep himself straight from day to day.
Then he leaned in and whispered that he needed me to take care of his dinner bill. He left his wallet at home, he claimed. He handed me the ticket without waiting for an answer and kissed me on the cheek then told his waitress his baby sister was taking care of his tab.
That is what having a big brother on crack does. You only see him when he wants something, he tells lies, he can not remember his own little sister has never been married and he hits you up for money one way or the other even if it is not to pay directly for his drugs.
My friends leaned in and hugged me or touched my hand and said “It’s okay.” A couple of them had family members who had been into drugs and they understood. They promised to get me through any future storms with my brother if they occurred. Still, as I watched Daryl walk away and pulled out an extra twenty dollar bill to pay for his lunch, I felt a touch of sadness as I realized that my big brother had probably already forgotten seeing me in just those few minutes.