Thirty years ago… Southside Atlanta, Georgia.
Girls playing hand clapping game. “Slide-baby, one, two, three, four-
you go out, in, up, and down,” Brooke and Carrie said, as they increased their hands speed. Their brother Tim was riding his bike down the hill and almost crashed into them, disrupting their game. “Ugh, Tim! You get on my nerves!
Watch where you’re going,” Brooke said. “You messed up Brooke! I won! Hahahaha,” Carrie laughed. Carrie and Tim laughed and gave each other high five.
“Wait, y’all meant to do that! Y’all set me up! I’m telling momma y’all some cheaters,” Brooke yelled. “Cheaters? I’m not even playing that stupid girl game.
I was just riding my bike down the hill,” Tim said. “Well, why did you and Carrie high five then?” Brooke said. “Because she won the game. I would have high fived you too, if you had won,” Tim said. “But ya didn’t,” Carrie joked, before she and Tim shared a laugh again.
Brooke started crying, and then she ran home. Her big brother Terrell was walking out of the door heading to basketball camp. He stopped her before she ran inside. “Hey, what’s the matter?” he said. Carrie and Tim are teaming up on me again,” Brooke cried.
Carrie and Tim walked up. Tim put his bike down. “Ain’t nobody teaming up on Brooke. She’s just a cry baby, and where do you think you’re going?” Tim said. “I’m heading to basketball camp lil bruh,” Terrell said, before his friend blew the car horn and waved for him to come on.
“Listen, the three of you have to take care of each other while I’m gone. Carrie and Tim, no more teaming up on Brooke,” Terrell said. “But we di-,” Carrie said, before Terrell cut her off. “Uhn uhnn, Carrie, now. You’re the big sister.
You have to look out for Brooke. She looks up to you, and Brooke don’t let everything get to you. It was just a game, there will be many more for you to win. Tim, hold it down until I get back, alright? Brooke, chin up,” Terrell said.
His friend blew the horn once more and yelled. “Man, come on! We’re going to be late.” “I love y’all, but I gotta bounce,” Terrell said, as he gave them each a hug. “Love you,” the kids said, then Terrell threw up the peace sign and went to get in the car.
That night, their big brother Terrell died in a car accident. A drunk driver hit him and his friend head on as they were leaving a sporting goods store. The kids cried as they sat in the middle of the floor and their parents tried to comfort them and each other. “I know how much you all loved your brother, and I love that about you all. The four of you were very close.
I want you all to keep that same bond. Oftentimes kids grow up and they grow apart from their siblings, but promise me that whether me or your dad is here or long gone, you’ll keep a strong family bond,” their mom said. “That’s right kids. Family is everything,” their dad said. Their mom cried, “Yes, family is everything.”
After the funeral, the family sat together at the repast. Tim was playing with his green beans. “Tim stop playing with your food, it’s rude,” Brooke said. Tim continued to stir his beans with his fork. “Stop!” Brooke yelled.
“Don’t yell at him Brooke. Terrell wanted us to take care of each other,” Carrie said. That’s right. You are your brother’s keeper,” their mom cried. The kids father consoled their mom.
Since that day, the kids kept a pact to be each other’s keeper. However, when their mom got diagnosed with dementia seven years ago, the siblings slowly began to drift apart. There weren’t anymore Sunday dinners at their mom’s house, and their dad passed ten years ago. Carrie was taking care of their mom for five years, but as her business grew, she could no longer care for her mother. Carrie’s siblings couldn’t take their mom in either.
Carrie thought that her younger siblings were being selfish and she hated having to put her mom in a care facility, not to mention she’s bearing the financial burden alone. This drew a further wedge between Carrie and Brooke and Tim.
Carrie had only been divorced a year when she began to care for her mother. She was trying to heal from the divorce, and be strong for her kids, while taking care of her mom. Brooke has always been known as the strongest sibling, but lately she felt broken.
Carly has been working as a chef at a hotel for the past six months. The pay isn’t great, but Carly is passionate about her career. Candi is now in her junior year of high school, and she’s been nominated for prom queen. Candi doesn’t know if she wants to go to prom, since her boyfriend broke up with her. Both Carly and Candi came home around the same time, and Carrie was in the kitchen cooking.
“Hi girls,” Carrie said, giving them both a kiss on the cheek. “Hey,” Candi said. “Hey, mom,” Carly said. “Dinner is almost done ladies. We’re having seafood marinara over linguine,” Carrie said.
“Yummy, my favorite,” Carly said. “Yes, and I tried the new recipe you recommended too,” Carrie said. “Oh, from the Foodie Series website?” Carly said, as she began walking up stairs. “Yes, wait. Where are you going?” Carrie said.
“Just going to shower really fast. I smell garlicky,” Carly said. “Okay, chef. Hurry back. Dinner’s in less than ten minutes,” Carrie said.
Candi opened the freezer and took some ice cream out. Carrie took the ice cream and put it back into the freezer. “No ma’am. You’re going to ruin your appetite,” she said. “Ugh, mom,” Candi said.
“What’s wrong with you?” Carrie said. “Sorry, but why do boys have to be such wieners,” Candi said. “Oh, boy. What happened?” Carrie said.
“Nothing,” Candi said. “Still upset about the breakup?” Carrie said. “Yes, he was my first love, and I know that we only dated five months, but mom, I really loved him, and he just broke up with me like it was nothing. He said that I’m too clingy. Like really?
You’re my whole boyfriend. I’m supposed to be clingy,” Candi said. “I know it’s hard honey, but sometimes you have to give them their space,” Carrie said. “You mean, I shouldn’t be clingy? Wait, am I clingy mom?” Candi said.
“You’re you. Maybe you were too clingy for him, but the right person for you will love that about you. But you have your entire adulthood to think about love. For now, focus on what makes you happy,” Carrie said. “But he made me happy mom,” Candi said.
“He may have made you happier, but he wasn’t the reason you were happy. You’ve always been a happy girl, since the day you were born. Listen, baby. All I’m trying to say is, don’t lose yourself over this breakup. Don’t allow anyone to take anything from you that they didn’t give to you.
You went into the relationship as a happy, loving, full of life, young lady, so you should stay that way. Don’t let this breakup, change you. Learn from it, but don’t allow it to change the core of who you are. Okay?” Carrie said. “Thanks mom.
You always know what to say.” “No problem. Now, help me set the table so that we can eat.” Carly came back downstairs feeling fresh and rejuvenated. They all sat at the table, said grace, and began to eat.
“Oh, guess who I saw at the hotel today?” Carly said. “Who,” Carrie said. “Uncle Richie,” Carly said. “Oh. Was there an engineer convention or something?” Carrie said.
“Was auntie Brooke with him?” Candi said, before taking a sip of her lemon water. “No, he was there with some business woman. The two of them were leaving a meeting he said.” “Hmm. Wonder what that’s about.
He and your aunt Brooke lives an hour away from your job,” Carrie said. “I know; weird,” Carly said. “Sounds like a wiener to me,” Candi said. Carrie laughed. “Eat your food, silly,” she said, to Candi.
“Do you think he’s cheating on auntie?” Carly asked Carrie. “Probably not. Brooke and Richie has that fairytale type love,” Carrie said. “Well, you know that fairytales aren’t real,” Carly said. “Wiener,” Candi said.
The next day was Terrell’s birthday. He would have been forty six. Carrie went to his grave and placed flowers there. She cried. “I miss you big brother.
You taught me a lot. I still don’t understand why the good die young. Maybe that’s something that me and God can talk about when I get to Heaven. How am I doing? I’m great.
It’s going on nine years and I’m still not over Ian. He and Emily are expecting twins. Mom is doing okay. I went to see her two days ago. I haven’t spoken to Brooke or Tim in almost a year.
I know that you’d be disappointed to hear that, but we all just grew apart, especially after mom got sick. I still love them, but you know me. I can be stubborn. I don’t want to be the one to reach out to them, when neither of them are trying to make amends with me. I feel drained.
I’ve been watering everyone else for too long. I just want to be the garden for a change, you know?” Carrie said, as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “Anyway, today is not about me, it’s about celebrating you. I hope that you’re having an awesome birthday in Heaven. You’re probably teaching Moses, Noah, and Abraham how to ball.”
It began to rain. “Love you, big brother. Happy Birthday,” Carrie said, before she ran to get inside of her car. When Carrie got home, she spent the evening watching romantic comedies. When the girls got home, they climbed into Carrie’s bed, and the three of them watched movies together.