21985_000_008I determined that no one in our family would ever feel that way again.
I’m not sure why my mom showed me the note that afternoon. The oldest of six children and a junior in high school, I couldn’t wait to graduate and move out on my own. I was tired of having to be the example and of baby-sitting my siblings whenever my parents wanted to go out.
Perhaps my mother knew, somehow, that sharing the note from Michael was the best thing she could have done for me that day. I arrived home from school earlier than my three brothers and two sisters. I confess I was impatient when my mom said, “I want to show you something.”
I followed her into my brother’s room, where she picked up a note from his pillow. In his 11-year-old scrawl, Michael had written, “I’m not coming home today. I’m not part of this family.”
I could feel the tears spill over onto my cheeks. Mom said, “Let’s pick him up from school today.”
I was too choked up to say anything. I nodded to my mother and resolved to myself, No one in our family will ever feel this way again.
We got to the school just as classes were being dismissed. Michael was surprised to see us but happy we were there. He never said a word about his note. He never wrote another one.
Michael and I became the best of friends. And although thousands of kilometers sometimes came between us when I left home after graduating from high school, we continued to be close.
The day I saw the note from Michael was the day I realized no one is more important than those we call “family.”