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I wish I could talk about you without making others uncomfortable.

That I could say ‘my brother’ in a conversation otherwise general, without their conscious effort to remain calm becoming visible. I see the wheels turning as they think of a reaction that’s acceptable; one that suits the situation but leaves room for me to be vulnerable. The one that everyone slips into well-intentioned but is somehow inevitable as the conversation – that was initially at least bearable – suddenly becomes yet another domino falling ever since your funeral.

That we could still talk without it feeling like a confessional. That every time I speak of you, you aren’t reduced to just another example. That for those few minutes of conversation, it’s somehow not relevant whether you’re dead or not, because my purpose is usually just anecdotal, and no one would feel obligated to be congenial because your death makes them put you on a pedestal.

And for so many reasons you belong there, but not because you’re dead or because you were suicidal. You deserve it for being compassionate, kind, ambitious – anything but forgettable. There was so much that made you admirable but there was so much more that made you just human. There was so much that made you an asshole and so much that made you lovable. All that made you my brother. There were the inappropriate jokes, and a fiery temper that was just terrible. There was your tone-deaf singing in the shower, the tune of your voice always somehow nasal. The way you’d fling me around like a wrestler but if I whined, you insisted you were just being playful. The way you could be my biggest nightmare and my worst enemy but there was never any comparison because you’ll always be my person.

But suddenly my person has been reduced to tales of caution and has escaped this world only to be branded with yet another label. I wonder if I’m doing you any favors, rambling on and on about you like it’s an obsession but perhaps this out-of-date, glitching screen is the only place you exist as someone I remember, and not just the baggage I bring to every table.

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