Never Let Me GoBy: J. J. McAvoy
Dedicated to those of us with messy hearts and complicated love stories…
Kill Me, Save Me
Why did you do this to yourself?
How am I supposed to go on without you?
Why did you do this?
Those were just a few of the things I wanted to say to my twin brother, Donovan, as I watched him sign the ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order while the nurse patiently waited for it. I wanted to take it from his long, bony fingers and throw it out the window, maybe even set the damn thing on fire.
He looked nothing like the brother I used to know. We were identical twins, with light brown hair, fair skin, and blue eyes—sea-blue eyes, as our mother used to say. However, for the first time in thirty-three years, we looked nothing alike. His skin was yellow, his eyes bloodshot, his hair looked almost gray, and every time he touched it, strands fell out. He was so thin, I could lift him like a child. What made it worse was that he’d done this to himself, just like our mother, just like our father. They’d all poisoned themselves with drugs and alcohol.
We were a family of four, our parents had died of alcoholic liver disease, and Donovan was going to be next. Our family, the Rhys-Gallagher family, had a genetic predisposition to drink and a high rate of addiction. Our mother had warned us of this while popping a Vicodin and pouring herself a glass of wine. We were only six years old at the time. After losing both her and our father, I never took a sip of anything alcoholic. But Donovan… Donovan, on the other hand, didn’t have that kind of control. All his life, he’d been attracted to things that could kill him.
“Stop looking at me like that.” He tried to smile, leaning back against the headboard. He’d chosen to spend his final moments here, at our family beach house in the Hamptons and not in New York General.
“How should I look at you?” I replied, shifting in my chair.
“I don’t know, but not like that.” He hung his head, staring at his hands. “I’m in enough pain already. I can’t take it for you to be pissed at me.”
“I’m not angry—”
“Yes, you are. I can feel it. I’ve always been able to feel what you feel, Dorian. Don’t bother lying to me now. Besides, it’s rude to lie to a dying man.”
Then don’t die.
If he knew how I felt then, if he knew how I’ve always felt, since we were kids, why was he leaving me? Why was he was saying goodbye forever?
“You’re right,” I whispered, blinking away tears. “I am angry, Don. I’m fucking pissed. And hurting and frustrated. But I can be all of those things and still love you. I love you so much, lil’ bro, that I wish I could give you my liver. You’re the only family I’ve got.”
He smiled, fighting back the tears of his own. “I’m glad you can’t, because I would ruin that one too. And you’re only two minutes older.”
“Older is older.”
I didn’t have the strength to say it the same way I used to, in jest. This wasn’t funny. This was tragedy. We had all the money in the world and if there was anything I could do or buy I would have done it. I was a match to him, I could have been a donor. I would have given him anything he needed. But it was too late. Too many of his organs were failing, he was beyond my saving. His whole body was just simply dying, and we could do nothing but let him die. Why? I didn’t understand! Why?
“I’m sorry,” his voice cracked when he tried to speak and placed one skeleton-like hand over mine.
All I could do was stare. It was like I was watching myself die. Taking his hand, I squeezed gently. I didn’t speak. What could I say? I had no words. I just had this deep ache in my throat. It didn’t feel like rushing fire, but rather like a slowly burning log was in my throat.
“We have to talk about the funeral.”
Closing my eyes, I shook my head. “Okay.”
“You know what I want, right? You better not get it wrong, or I’ll….” He trailed off.
And I tried to lighten up our conversation, though I knew it wouldn’t do much good. “Throw my Nintendo in the pool again?”