As a kid, I had a pretty normal life. My parents typical- loving but strict. My mom was my best friend, we did everything together. My brother, Toby, and I weren’t kids that hated being seen with our parents, and we weren’t embarrassed by everything they did. We did family activities together and it was fun.
Dad was a nine to five stockbroker, and mom stayed at home throughout our school years. Toby was four years older than I was. My brother was also my best friend growing up, my partner in crime. Dad and I weren’t super close, but we loved each other nonetheless. He was always more well bonded with Toby.
Right out of high school Toby joined the military. I never really asked about what he did, and I have a feeling if I’d asked, he wouldn’t have told me. A year into my stint at community college, the family got a call that Toby was MIA. Mom and dad were devastated, as was I. He was our golden boy, what would we do without him?
That’s when dad really began to change. He’d always had a temper, but he kept it in check when he was around us. When he was good- he was great, really fun to be around, but on bad days- he was really terrible to be around. I could always tell by the look on his face what kind of day he was having, whether we could talk, or whether I should steer clear and stay in my room to read and do homework.
Things continued to go downhill from there. About 7 months after we were told Toby was MIA, we found out he was dead. I guess it wasn’t that surprising, but it was still soul crushing. My best friend, my big brother gone forever. Each of us mourned in our own way, dad being more distant, coming home less and less. Mom was stoic about it most of the time, but sometimes we’d sit together, my head on her shoulder, and just cry.
In some ways, it was a relief that dad wasn’t around a lot after that, he’d just become unbearable. We held a funeral for Toby the day after his casket arrived to our home town. It was a large ceremony, family and friends from near and far came to pay their respects. Dad walked off as soon as the casket was lowered, and disappeared for the rest of the day.
After that, life just kind of continued on. Dad went back to work, I continued my schooling, and mom got a part time job as a shoe saleswoman. Things settled, but they were never the same. There would always be a Toby shaped hole in our hearts and lives.
I’d just graduated with an associates degree in criminal justice when things got interesting again.
Read the next part!: Let Me Explain: Part Three