I was always grateful to Micah for being the big brother I never had. I mean, I did have older half-sisters on either side of my families, and Micah was technically my cousin–But he had something that neither of my sisters did. He had something special that I needed when I was growing up, that my sisters couldn’t quite pull off. My Mom said it was an attitude. My Dad, Micah’s uncle, said it was regrets. But I just called it “The Micah Factor.” He got through to me in a way that a lot of people couldn’t, but I wasn’t sure why.
He was my best friend. I know that sounds weird, but he was. When good things happened—Well, I called my mom first because she was my mom and I’d never hear the end of it if I called someone before her. But after my mom had been debriefed, I called Micah. He was always excited for me or angry on my behalf, depending on what the situation called for. Lizzie, my half-sister on my mom’s side, would get so angry when she learned something new about my life, only to then find out that Micah had known for weeks (sometimes months).
So—it was really hard to watch him get sick. It changed him—messed with his mind and turned him into someone I didn’t know. And there were days that we went in to see him, and he didn’t know us either. To see a man who once knew everything about you—to have him look at you and extend a hand and introduce himself like you’d never met—that was hard.
He did know us, though. When we told him who we were he recognized the names, and you could watch him struggle to get to the memories and understanding that he had with us. I think that was worse than him not knowing us at all. I mean, I know it would hurt for him to not know me, but watching him struggle—I don’t know. Maybe if it were the other way, I would wish it were this way. The grass is always greener and all that nonsense.
Relief is the wrong word. But—release maybe? I don’t know. But I definitely felt something—happier than I thought I should have when I heard that he’d passed. This was my best friend, my cousin, the closest thing I’d ever had to a brother. And I felt lighter at the news that he was gone. That can’t be right, can it? I mean—I was heartbroken, don’t get me wrong. I cried for days straight. Even now, something will catch me off guard and I’ll want to call him and it kills me to know I can’t.
But I’m glad—and I know it sounds terrible—but I am glad I don’t have to walk into that hospital room anymore and watch him try to associate me with the girl he knows in his head and watch the two of them not line up. I’m glad I don’t have to watch my Dad’s face fall every time we leave, his heart shattering again. And I know I shouldn’t be because Micah is dead and I should not be glad.
So, I guess, to answer your question, I’m here because Micah died, and something in me broke. And I’ve realized that I cannot fix it alone.