Brad - I’ve written this so many times in my head but I’m still not sure how to explain what you mean to me. I don’t know why I like you. I don’t know why I love you I only know that I do. There are days when I hate everything about you. I think about the way that you’ve hurt me with things that you’ve said and done but you certainly don’t owe me anything. You’re not responsible for me, I can't hold you accountable for the way that I feel but I would like to impress on you that people are delicate. More delicate and more fragile than you might think they are.
Like I said earlier, I don’t know what it is about you. Your insight certainly, your quick wit, the clever things you say. The way you’re always thinking about other people and doing nice things for them. You say that I’m selfish but I’m not nearly as selfish as you are. I share my thoughts and feelings with the people I love. I don’t wall myself off from other people and tell them I love them but can’t talk about the things that are really bothering me. You say that writing is my way of escaping. All I have to say to that is writing is a better escape than drugs. I’m not throwing your addictions in your face but friends are always honest with each other and I may love you but I don’t love the way that you act.
For all your nice guy ways you are a flirt. You’re sexy, you know it and you use that to get what you want. Maybe you’re not doing it intentionally but I’ve been around you when your voice grows soft and your eyes start getting that look in them. You know what look I’m talking about and if you don’t I’m sure my sister can explain it to you. I’ve heard the two of you sitting there and flirting on the phone more times than I care to count.
If you think I’m jealous I’m not. There was a time when I was. You know I’ve always wanted to be the fun outgoing one just like you wish you had a little more of Brent’s conversational skills. That’s the cross we have to bear but you have the skills you’re just choosing not to exercise them. Right now I’m sitting in my hotel room. My mom had a bad flight. She’s upset my dad didn’t come with her. We stayed up late playing Scrabble, we did a lot of talking and some of that was about you. Most of what she said was good but she knows what it’s like to have a sister and she knows what it’s like to be different. She also knows what men want and she knows that you are first and foremost a man.
Don't imagine that I have regrets about anything we did in Vancouver. I was curious and you were there to experiment with. Does that sound callous to you? Did you ever lie to me about what your true intentions were? Was I a good screw for you? Honestly the only reason I went to bed with you is because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Does that sound familiar? Were you curious to see what Gretchen was like in bed or did you have to have her just because you knew that your brother still wants her? I can forgive you for almost anything but I can’t forgive you for taking Gretchen away from Brent. I’m sure that you’ll make the argument that he’s married and I’m also sure that from your point of view he has everything and you have nothing but if you chose to look deep into your heart you’d know that Fern is not the woman for him. I know that as surely as I know who the right woman is.
Brent asked me to marry him once. We were outside, he was dating Fern but he asked me if I wanted to marry him. I love Brent more truly and more deeply than I love the rest of my family but I did not accept his proposal because I knew he doesn’t love me the way that I love him. I didn’t want him to marry Fern but you can’t tell others what to do in life. Your way is to interfere, my way is to stay out of things and that’s what this is about. Stay out of his life Brad. When his wife calls you don’t sit up talking to her for hours on end. That’s what he’s for and your conversations with Fern are destroying your brother’s marriage. Fern hates Gretchen and all you’re doing is adding fuel to the fire by giving Fern ammunition to use against Brent. If Brent and Fern have problems they should be the ones talking about it. Not you and Fern.
I do appreciate your thinking of me. Your gift is very generous but I’m afraid I can’t in good conscience accept it. Money isn’t the way to buy back my friendship Brad. You’ve always had it and you always will. I will always be your friend. I will always love you but if my sister asks I will tell her that I have very little respect for you. You’ve lived your life the way you saw fit and now it’s your turn to reap the harvest you’ve sown. I’m sorry Gretchen isn’t feeling well. I pray that the two of you will be good parents to Parker. I of course look forward to being an adoring aunt and trust that a baby of yours will be every bit as intelligent and as loving as you are.
In your last letter you asked about the poem I wrote. I did write that for you. I wrote it long ago because that’s how I felt back then. Now I see how foolish I was. I’m sorry you had to find that poem because it belongs to the past and that’s where it should stay. My love in your garden did grow but when I found out I wasn’t the only rose you were tending my heart turned cold. Writing isn’t a way of forgetting it’s a way of remembering and I’d like to remember the good times and conversations we did have. I won’t forget you and I hope you’ll look back and think of me fondly from time to time because I really do care about you and you have such a bright future ahead of you.
You’re destined for great things Brad and I think you know that just don’t forget that even great journeys are made up of small steps taken along the way. I’m not going to anything dramatic next time I see you. I’d like this to be something we keep between the two of us although I can’t stop you from sharing it with either Brent or Gretchen. My final thoughts have to do with Gretchen and your relationship with her. I don’t feel that she’s the woman for you because you don’t seem very happy lately. Your dad said something about it. A couple people who are close to you, including both of my parents said that you haven’t been yourself lately. They couldn’t give me any specifics but they said you weren’t yourself. I worry about you Brad. I worry that Gretchen isn’t the partner who will give you the things you really want.
I pray that someday you will meet someone who is just as charming and as charismatic as you are. Someone who wants to sit back and build castles in the sky and walk hand in hand with you down the streets of some off the beaten path. Someone who loves to travel and see and do new things. Someone who loves art and architechture and gazing at the stars, someone who truly appreciates the quiet, gentle beauty of a storm-filled night. I hope some day you find the girl who was born with roses in her eyes just as you were born with petals in your cheeks and a song in your heart.
I love you Brad. Keep making music that haunts people at night but share it with the light of the day because you and Brent are both children of the sun. That’s where I want to see you and that's how I want to remember you. Standing beneath the burning hot sun, smiling at me and knowing that I have no idea it’s your birthday we’re celebrating. Take care, I fervently hope that some day you can look back on this and me and smile.
Lana Renee Schwartz
The envelope was irregularly sized. The handwriting wasn’t clear but Gretchen could read every word with crystal clear clarity. She knew that if Brad found out she’d been in his office and snooping in his things he’d do something drastic. He valued his privacy above almost everything else. How dare her sister write something so horrible and how much worse was it that she had sent it to Brad at work. Gretchen made sure that she put everything back exactly the way that she had found it. She could always tell Brad that she had needed stamps. That would be a good excuse.
She picked her copy of the letter up, grabbed her purse and headed for the door. Her borrowed key was in the lock when she heard her cell phone ringing. Impatiently she turned the key. It was too cold to step outside just yet. Hopefully Brad had gotten her a remote starter for her car. It was the only thing she had told him she wanted for Christmas. She pulled her cell phone out of her purse. A Seattle area code flashed across her screen. The only reason that Brent was calling was because he had no idea what to get Brad for Christmas. That was the only reason she was going to talk to him at all.
“Gretchen, it’s Brent. We need to talk.”