Alex was the oldest of 2. His little sister, Emily, was 5 years younger. They may not have been close in age, but they were surprisingly close for siblings. Alex had assigned himself Emily’s protector since he had seen her for the first time, a few days after she was born. Emily thought the world of her big brother. She looked up to him, and always tried to copy him.
When Alex was 11, he started learning how to play the drums. By the time he turned 12 he was getting pretty good. All throughout that year though, Emily would sit with Alex as he learned to play, and they’d talk, or she would just watch her big brother as he focused on the pattern he was trying to learn. When Emily turned 7, she asked Alex if she could learn to play the drums, too. He ended up giving her an older pair of sticks that he had and taught her different patterns as they sat facing each other on the floor in the living room.
When Alex was 15, he told his parents that he was gay. The entire room was silent, as if something had sucked all the air out of the room, when he admitted this. The lights around the house illuminated the horror and disgust on their faces. In that moment, Alex was thankful that Emily had gone to bed before he decided to have this conversation with them. He didn’t want Emily to see this side of their parents.
When his parents kicked him out the house the following day, none of them told, 10-year-old, Emily why her big brother was leaving and not going to be staying at home anymore. Alex hugged his little sister fiercely, whispering in her ear, “I’ll call you soon, Emy. I promise.” Then he stepped out the front door with a duffel bag and a backpack.
The first time Alex called her; she was so excited that she nearly dropped the phone when she heard his voice. When she asked where he was, he just told her that he was safe, and she didn’t need to worry. Then when she asked about when he was going to come home, she could hear the pain in his voice when he said, “I don’t know, Emy. That’s up to Mom and Dad.”
While his parents didn’t want anything to do with him, Alex called Emily regularly, and they begrudgingly allowed it. He eventually told her that he was staying at Bobby’s because his house had a nice loft. He told her what he was up to with the band, how his friends were doing, ask her about how her day had been, when they talked to each other.
Emily loved to hear about the things that her big brother was doing with his band and talking about her day, but she missed seeing Alex. The first time she saw her brother in almost 2 years, was the night of her 12th birthday, when he snuck into her room to give her the present, he had gotten for her. They had hugged and there were happy tears, but he couldn’t stay too long. Alex didn’t want to get Emily in trouble for him visiting.
After that night, they went back to their regular calls, unless Alex had a gig, and then he would call right after. One night, Alex missed their scheduled call. Emily started to get worried, until she realized that her brother had a big gig that night. She sat next to the phone until after midnight waiting for him to call. She eventually went to bed worried, but thinking that he was tired from the concert and must’ve fallen asleep before he could call her.
The next day, Emily’s parents told her that Alex was gone. No, she thought, he can’t just be gone. They have to be lying. They just don’t want me to talk to him anymore.
She ran out of the house. Her feet carried her, first to Bobby’s house, then to Luke’s. Tears streaked down her cheeks as she was brought inside the house by Luke’s parents. When Emily was sat on one of the couches in their living room, they told her.
It wasn’t just her brother that was gone. Two of his friends had died as well. The 3 of them were gone.
She cried, silent tears.
Eventually Emily’s parents found her at Luke’s house. They picked her up and they went back home. By the time they got home, though, her tears weren’t just filled with sadness, but with anger. “You’re the reason he’s dead.”
“What was that, honey?” her father and mother asked her, hoping that they had heard her wrong.
Alex was gone, and she couldn’t do a damn thing about it. She knew one thing for certain though. If they hadn’t made him leave, he would still be here. “It’s. Your. Fault.” She told them, anger filled every fiber of her being and each word she spoke.
The horror and indignation on their faces was what pushes her over the edge. The tears in her eyes started flowing freely again as she let the words spill from her lips as if they were a torrent of cold water, that might make her parents see the truth, “It’s all your fault! You made him leave! You didn’t let him come home! If he was home, he would still be here! This is your fault! Bring him back! Give him back!”
Her brother’s death was a breaking point for their family. There had already been a million tiny fractures that had occurred over the two years that Alex had been gone for, but Emily hadn’t really questioned why he had had to leave. In the years following Alex’s death, Emily rarely spoke to her parents. Not even wanting to look at them. At the reason why her brother was gone.
The night Emily turned 18, she asked her parents why they had kicked Alex out. They finally told her the reason why they had not allowed for him to live with them after they found out. She left that same night. Emily ended up staying at one of her friend’s houses until she had a job and could get an apartment, after they finished their senior year of high school.
By the time, Emily was 25, she had started donating money to different organizations and things that were there to help teens in the lgbtq+ community, in honor of her brother. She also started going to Pride as well. Not just for her brother, but for herself. She was bisexual after all. She just hoped that wherever her big brother was, he could see that she still loved him no matter what.