Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Brother Josh

Josh Stallings 5/9/1968 to 10/21/2011, Rest in Peace
mother: Andrea Campbell
father: Ron Stallings

My little brother was born when I was 2.5.  I was given a boy baby doll by my mother.  In the late 60s, someone decided it was a good idea to make a baby doll that was an anatomically correct male.  I did not appreciate it.  I think it freaked me out, not sure.  But soon I treated my brother as a baby doll.  I remember putting his curly hair into little pigtails.  

By the time I was entering my teens, Josh was fast on his way to towering over me when he reached his adult height of 6'7".  But before that pictures show me that I was loving and protective of him.  We lost that bond by adolescence when we became fiercely competitive.  We also polarized our roles.  He was an avid athlete, until a football injury intervened, and I was a bookworm hermit.

We were happy in all the pictures in California, until my mother moved us to Oregon to be near her parents.  This changed my brother's life for the worse.  The joyous little boy first encountered prejudice there and lost his smile, with the only positive reinforcement he could find anywhere coming from sports.  I remember he wore his patent leather dress up shoes to play soccer.  Everyone assumed he was Mexican, rather than half black and half white, and that he was adopted.

We also were opposites astrologically, my Scorpio to his Taurus.  We both had 12 house moons, like our mother as well.  The home held secrets that isolated our little threesome.  My brother was the first to escape, at first on his little bicycle and later by climbing out the window, doing anything not to be home.  I did anything but leave.  That is until college.   My moving from Corvallis to Portland to go to Reed changed my brother's life forever.

As I watch my mother go through his papers and I look through her albums, it is clear that moving to Portland was the first chance he really got to be around other black people, and yet he felt they did not accept him since he was mixed.  The social hell that high school can be apparently was filtered through this specific filter for him.  I regret any way that I ever impacted him in a hurtful way, even though indirectly.  It was as the high school in Portland that he met the mother of his beautiful children, so I don't regret that result.

I got a degree in psychology and a master's in social work and have worked as a mental health therapist for over 20 years.  This fact is met with strange resistance in my family, or certainly was by my brother.  It certainly did not serve him in anyway, and for that I will forever be horribly sad.  My profession and those who serve in it are well intentioned, but the system is flawed.  My heart is broken at how a life could be lost when there was help that could have been provided.

Also read Childhood Lost
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