The letter you always wanted to write
You are my only sibling. I know I didnt always fully understand you, but I always looked up to you and I thought you were clever and amazing. Well, at least I did up until that time you refused to come and see our very elderly dad when he was dying in the care home. I just couldnt see why that had been so difficult for you. He was pleading to see you during his final hours, but you wouldnt visit him. I really hated you for that because he seemed so sad and confused as was I.
But you turned up at his funeral, which I had arranged and taken care of, like everything else in our family over the years. You rarely showed up when Mum and Dad were alive, but you breezed into my home a place you had never visited before as if you owned it. You even had the nerve, as head of the family, to thank everyone for coming along. Who did you think you were?
I used to think you had everything I wanted, with your big house and luxury lifestyle. But your rare visits were a reminder that we didnt amount to much. Mum and Dad were uneducated, unlike you and I, so it wasnt hard for you to make them feel insignificant. You made us all feel your rich friends meant far more to you than we ever did. So I grew up to accept that I was of little value in your life, while Dad depended on and valued me more and more after Mum died.
But everything changed when you read Dads will. Suddenly your kid sister was a big problem, worthy of an angry, threatening letter. You couldnt accept not getting the lions share, and you roared with rage. So when you didnt reply to my letter, or communicate with me again, I just assumed you had written me off. I had become so used to your arrogance and remoteness, and decided to just get on with my life and never contact you again. Until recently.
I was doing some genealogy research, and searched for you in the records. There you were, but this time you were dead. Your death certificate said you died just two weeks after that last angry letter you sent me, and six weeks after Dads funeral. That was more than 13 years ago.
I was in deep shock, feeling angry and hurt from those years of rejection. But I also felt sad and guilty, because I had thought you hadnt wanted to have a relationship with me for all those years. And I hadnt grieved your death how could I? I had just made the assumption that you were continuing to ignore me, as you always did when I was a child.
If you were still alive today, would I still be writing to you now? I dont think I would. You were rarely brotherly or supportive, and you were never an uncle to my children. But in discovering that you had died, everything felt different. You are not the person I thought I knew. You have dissolved into something else, something spacious and mystical, still looking down on me but hopefully in a different way.
This changes everything. I want to connect deeply with you and, as strange as it sounds, it doesnt feel too late. I want to tell you how much I really loved you, and how I wanted to be like you, especially when I was eight and you left home and left me all alone with Mum and Dad. I missed you so much. But I never really knew you then, and wonder if I can know you better now. Perhaps I can empathise with all that pain you must have felt, to have left us in the way that you did.
Now I am looking up at you, rather than looking up to you, and it feels good, because I can feel close to you once again. Death wipes the slate clean, and I can feel secure in the knowledge that we cant hurt each other any more. I hope you have a good rebirth, big brother, with less suffering the next time around, and if we ever reincarnate into the same family again, perhaps we can work things out better together.
Wed love to hear your stories
We will pay 25 for every Letter to (please write about 600-700 words), Playlist, Snapshot or We love to eat we publish. Write to Family Life, The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your address and phone number. We are only able to reply to those whose contributions we are going to use