When your little brother knocks

When your little brother knocks on your bedroom door,
(sobs wracking his gangly frame)
open it & sit beside each other on the floor.

“What’s wrong, bro?”
Everything.
“That’s not very specific.”
“I think you…”
“I would what?
“…would be better off without me.”

When your little brother’s eyes are bloodshot,
(a never-ending stream of tears flowing)
hand him the tissue box & wring your hands.

“That’s not true. Why would you think that?”
“I’m a burden. I’m always messing up.”
“You’re doing great in band! Your grades are decent, too.”
“If I was dead, no one would have to worry –”
“I’d have to go to a cemetery to see you.”
“But — “

When your little brother teeters on a ledge,
(more often than not these days)
carefully pull him back to safety.

“Dad thinks I’m worthless. Mom will never be proud of me, either.”
“You can’t leave Brie & me.”
“It’s all so pointless.”
Promise me.
“I know, Sam. I promise. I won’t.”
“Good.”

When your little brother’s confidence flourishes,
(years later, but it couldn’t have happened soon enough)
let go of┬áthe breath you didn’t know you were holding.