Do you remember a conversation we had years ago while driving through the mountains of Pennsylvania? You had taken over the mortgage to our mother's house in hopes of building family bonds through debt owed to you.
I never liked you. Why would I?
"You can't buy a family" I said as we made our way back to Scranton that day, and though you vigorously denied the allegation, time proved me right. The mortgage payments stopped when you'd finally had enough, and we became the sort of family The Jerry Springer Show used to humiliate on national TV.
When you evicted your own mother from her own house, I couldn't help but wonder what was going through your mind.
Were you sad?
Were you proud?
Were you so full of yourself that you couldn't see the cause-effect relationship of your actions?
The outcome was inevitable. I told you this years before as we made our way through the mountains that day. Your driving scared the hell out of me, but your attitude scared me more than a pale blue car swerving along mountain roads ever could.
I saw a piece of myself in you. I saw my anger, my hate, and my pain.
And I walked away.
How quickly it all comes rushing back when I think of you. I can feel the darkness you brought into every room you entered oh so many years ago. But it's rare that I think of you at all.
Why would I?
God damn the childhood days when I would wonder what I did so wrong to make you vent your anger at me. I was too young and foolish to understand that you weren't angry at me so much as just angry in general and I was foolish enough to listen.
There's a part of me that will hate you until the day I die, and though I'm not proud of that, it makes me a better man as I strive to be everything you were not. I tell you this and it is not an exaggeration: You saved me.
I so feared becoming even the least bit like you that, instead, I became the opposite.
I love my life.
I love my friends.
I love the world.
I love the opportunities that optimism brings me time and time again.
And you know what else? I've even learned to love myself.
For that, I thank you.