Posted by Maggie, Dammit.
When I got the call at 2am that my brother was crouched broken and drunk in his garage with a loaded gun pressed to his temple, my first thoughts were of you. Where the hell were you? How did you manage to sleep through these precious wretched hours while your husband was imploding? Why did he turn to his friends, these friends who called me at 2am, instead of to you, his wife? But I murdered those thoughts as quickly as they came because there just wasn't time. I had to keep both of you alive, I had to figure out what to do, I had to weigh the images in my mind of him shooting himself, of him shooting you, of the police shooting him, and decide which one I could live with. I had to make decisions from the deserted island of my living room floor, and I failed. I froze, and I failed, and though someone else stepped in and saved us all, the business of hating myself was enough to keep me busy and distracted for the next few months and so I did not think about you at all.
That was this summer, a lifetime ago, and the changes I've seen in him are nothing short of miraculous. He has quit drinking. He willingly takes his medication. The boy who would speak to no one now confides weekly in a therapist, and the boy who could not read until high school writes for hours in stacks of weathered notebooks. He seems so steady now he's almost unrecognizable to me, a likable stranger I plan to get to know if I can just baby-step through this trail of broken trust and old pain but, you? You are leaving him.
You're not just leaving him, you're slipping responsibility like a cocktail dress from your angular frame. You are pouring wine in front of him, you are poking at fresh wounds. You and your crazy family are searching for new problems, new mysterious ailments he must possess, and blaming his non-cooperation in his own witch-hunt as proof he doesn't want this marriage. It makes me question everything I have ever known about you, everything you have ever said.
When my brother was a train-wreck nobody noticed you, the fender bender in the corner. Now he is mending and you can't handle it, your own scratches and dings and decades-old mold coming to light. And it's not just the distraction from your own brand of crazy, it's something more, something sinister, and I don't think you mean it and I don't think you see it but it's there, and it's real, and it's this: It's like you need him to be sick, like it's feeding something in you. Without it, you starve.
I have waited 30 years to know my brother. You can leave him if you want to, I'm staying right here by his side.