There is blood and my neighbor is holding a bag that contains a hat. As I come closer someone asks if I live in apartment 307, and my mind tries to rapidly piece the scene together. I glance at my balcony and wonder, did he fall or jump or was pushed? “The ambulance just left,” another neighbor says. I some how dial the numbers to my boyfriend’s phone.
“It’s my brother,” I say, “He fell down the stairs in our building, he’s been taken to the hospital.”
I can’t drive or think. He had been doing well, his job, his friends, his spirituality, he was making plans for his next adulthood step. But I could not keep him safe or sober.
I am allowed into his hospital room and sit beside him. His face is rapped loosely in gauze and occasionally a small rivulet of blood traces past the edge of the bandage. They are waiting to see.
Waiting to see his blood alcohol level go down.
Waiting to see if he passed the concussion test.
Waiting to see if he needed plastic surgery for the gash in his eyebrow.
So I sat there waiting too. I eventually cracked out his name and touched him. He spoke, disoriented and broken, “I was pushed from the stairs. The devil did it. Pray for me.”
I did pray. I had no reason not to believe that the devil wasn’t just tripping men with laundry baskets that evening. I also knew that he had drank more than enough to “float a battleship”
I do pray. I know what to do with my lips and my heart, I just didn’t know what to do with my hands. Because you want to pull your hands back and keep them to yourself, to disconnect and save yourself the heartache. You have moments that you know the person without their addictive behaviors–their eyes are clear–but but sometimes the shadow is just caught in lashes for a moment.
I read about an experiment with those rats addicted to cocain, and how they recovered best when surrounded by other happy rats. I don’t know if the happy rats ever were scared. Or if they felt guilty when they didn’t try harder to connect.
Years have gone by and my brother is better, Maybe the happy rats really helped. Most days I do not still hold the baseball cap with blood, mostly I think of hopeful things.