I keep in sporadic contact with my brother. The last time I saw him was 2003-4, shortly after our Dad died. I occasionally send him cards, since having found his home address, as part of his business profile, online. I also have his work/home no. and sometimes text him little 'hello' messages. Since moving home in Feb. of last year, I'd guess I've texted him more than I could count on one hand. He occasionally responds. This holiday season I texted him once on Thanksgiving and once on Xmas. There was no response. On our Dad's birthday, I took it a step further and gave him a ring. The phone no., as it turns out, is no longer in service which may explain why I never heard back from him.
Knowing that his livelihood depends on folk having his current phone no. & not seeing any new contact information connected to his web presence, I began to freak out a bit thinking that he wasn't faring well. The rational part of my mind thought: his clients know how to reach him even if you don't--calm down. The panicky part of my mind kept thinking that something might have been wrong with him.
This past Saturday the hubs and I took an impromptu trip down to the South Bay. We were quite close to my brother's house, as it turned out, so I asked the hubs if he wouldn't mind driving me over there. We pulled up to the house, I saw a car in the driveway, took that as a sign someone was home, went to the door and rang the bell.
A medium-sized dog with an enormous bark greeted me at the screen door, then the brother's girlfriend popped into view long enough to grab the dog and disappear again. A few moments later my brother came to the door with a look of surprise on his face. He came outside leaving the front door open. Behind him, the front room looked almost entirely empty; I assumed they were moving. -turns out that the girlfriend had somewhat recently moved out & had taken most of the living room furniture with her. After some 17 years of being together, they had broken up two months prior. In order to save money, my brother changed his phone plan which meant that he'd had to get a new phone number. 'Remind me to give it to you before you go'.
The now ex-girlfriend joined us on the porch & I told her I was sorry to hear that they'd broken up-although I wasn't, really. The ex gave the reason for their split. Holding her hand up to the sky she said, 'we just weren't...um....' She tried again, 'we didn't have, uhm...' 'Jesus?', I volunteered. Haha, no, they hadn't had that all-consuming, burning love and were more like siblings, as it turned out. I took what she said and put it through my 'girl speak' translator and came up with this: I fell in love with someone else, so I left your brother. The 'we'll always be family' she also added meant: I emotionally devastated your brother, so, out of guilt, I'll still be around, plus I want to visit my dogs (that your brother will keep at his). The ex said that she had to go soon, so I took that as my cue to leave. She insisted I stay for a bit longer before going back into the house leaving me alone with my brother.
The split had taken quite a toll. My brother was slimmer than I remembered, but that just could have been coincidental. We both had, of course, in the intervening years, aged. He mentioned the gray in my hair (like Mom). -said he could see a bit of our sister in my face. I told him that's just our matching crow's feet. Har-har. He told me he'd been suffering from panic attacks since the break-up. A course of anti-depressants had made him feel suicidal. Fortunately, he hadn't tried to act on those thoughts, and, instead, got off the meds. I don't know what type of support he has these days other than his now ex-girlfriend.
We chatted for a bit longer before he said that he had to get back to the ex. 'She has to go soon, so...' I gave my brother a series of grabby hugs like a squirrel hoarding nuts for winter and left without getting his new phone number.