I looked up as I was helping at the Food Bank and saw him. His face lit up in a big smile and he came over and hugged me, saying “Hi, Sis.” I was so happy to see him. Once a month, just like clockwork, my brother David was there with his friends seeking some groceries. Once a month was all I saw him.
David is a drug addict. He has been on meth and cocaine off and on for nearly 30 years and while he has been in rehab several times, he seems to backslide as soon as he gets out. The drugs have destroyed his ability to understand a lot of things and he gets memories mixed up in a big way. He insists that so and so happened at such and such time and it is easier to just nod in agreement than to argue with him.
Some of the family cringe when they see him coming or when the county jail number shows up on caller I.D.. but when I see him at the Food Bank, I am reminded of the big brother I had way back when. He goes around excitedly telling everyone I am his baby sister. Sometimes he does not have his identification on him but they know him as he is a regular. They just look over at me, asking if I vouch for him being who he claims to be and I say yes, he is my big brother and I give him a big hug.
My brother was not always a drug addict. Being the oldest, he played sports and the prettiest girl in school crushed on him. But shortly after they graduated, before they got married, she was killed in an accident along with her sister and parents, and David took to using drugs. He changed almost overnight.
The family tried in many ways to get him to get help over the years. Our younger brother is always bailing him out of jail when he is found walking around in the middle of night, unsure of where he is. An officer told us he was looking for Tara. I cried. Tara had been his high school sweetheart, the one who died.
Still, for just a moment when our eyes meet across the room, I see the big brother I love inside of the man who threw everything away for drugs. Sometimes I pray that Tara is up there somewhere and sees David and how much he needs help. For a long time I didn’t believe that…until last week.