Relative Secrets

Saturday, March 27, 2004

I remember a man's hands. They are older hands, with slim purple veins running under too-thin skin, pale with brownish smears of age. But they are big hands, strong ones. I don't know who they are attached to; something won't let me access the rest of the person. The hands themselves did not surface in my memory until a few years ago. They came swimming up from the bottom of some elusive pool, like a dead fish, belly-up, and by the time I noticed them, I don't know how long they'd been there. I may have just made it up. But they were attached to something that's been there, a guilt that's heavy and sometimes stunningly sharp, like I feel the day after a forgotten birthday, or like I felt as I saw a truck rumble over my dog who had crossed the road at my calling. Before the hands, this guilt floated around in a soupy void, surfacing like
a chunk of potato when I least expected it to. Now it's finally linked to something tangible--these hands. This is a secret about a relative.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

There is a question of just how Blair was related to us. We were always told that he was our half brother only by law. However, there is a picture of me and him when we were 12 and 13, and we looked like twins. But if we were truly halfs, that would mean that my father was messing around on my mother. Can't have the children thinking that, can we? But the logistics were right. We were all in the same place when he was conceived. And there is a picture of us all, myself, my two sisters, Blair, his sister, his mother, my father and a firetruck in Texas. My mother also lived in Texas, and she was married to my dad. I wonder where she was that day. I also wonder if my father thinks that we're all stupid. There is a family trait from my father's side of the family that he is very proud of. Our middle fingers are just slightly crooked. He used to say "That's how you know you are a Dale!" Blair had the same crooked middle finger. He and I talked about it one time, whispering so noone would hear. Relative secrets.

I found out from a phone call that Blair was murdered last summer. June 4, which would have been just a few weeks after Doug committed suicide. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I think that I would probably have felt more if I'd known then, when it happened, since it would have been a sort of silhouette of the emotions I'd felt about Doug. Blair's my brother, and Doug was "only" my cousin, but I grew up with Doug, and rarely saw Blair. It makes me think about the ways things're similar and the ways they aren't. For instance, Doug's suicide came as a complete surprise. I can't say I'm really shocked that Blair was murdered. Doug had had problems, but he was the happy tough guy. Blair was the I-don't-give-a-damn guy who'd already tried to commit suicide a few times. Would it be evil of me to say that if it were my decision to make, that Blair would have succeeded instead of Doug? That's a relative secret.