I’m not sure just why my mom decided to show me the note that afternoon. I was a junior in high school living with my family in the lush green countryside of Michigan. The oldest of six children, I couldn’t wait to graduate and move out on my own. I was tired of having to be the example and baby-sit 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 rolled my eyes when the first thing my mom said to me was, “Come here, Camielle. 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 burning of tears from somewhere deep in my heart spill over onto my 17-year-old cheeks. Mom said, “Let’s go pick him up from school today.”
I was too choked up to say anything. My life had changed in a matter of seconds. I nodded to my mother and thought to myself, No one in our family will ever feel this way again.
We got to the elementary school just as the classes were being dismissed. Michael came out of his class and was a little surprised to see us, but happy we were there. He never said a word about his note. He never wrote another one.
I left home after graduating from high school, but Michael and I became the best of friends despite the sometimes thousands of miles between us. The day I saw the note from Michael was the day my spirituality and humanity came together. None other is more cherished than those we call “family.”