(A brother reflects on a decision …… A thought around The Prodigal Son)
It’s a fair question! I don’t know. And maybe I do for there was jealousy at work.
Yes he had gone away and left us all in the lurch. Yes he had eaten into my father’s property but there was more to it than that.
I resented him, not just because he had gone away but more-so because he came back. At least when he was gone, I had my father’s ear and could impress him with all the work I did around the place.
Strange that, for though I had his ear, I knew his mind wandered to where the brother was and how he was doing. I knew his heart was broken and that part of him died that day he watched him fade into the distance
That said, he never ignored me or made me feel he didn’t love me deeply but I couldn’t get my head around the fact that he still missed “the waster” as I called him. There was no denying it though, my father was heart-broken.
There were times when I missed him too of course. I wondered what he was doing and who he was with. That’s when I let my mind wander and I wrote stories in my head that most likely weren’t real at all. I imagined him with women, getting drunk “letting the family down” and it never crossed my mind that he was sitting alone and hungry, surrounded by pigs who ate what he’d have eaten “though nobody offered him anything”.
It’s strange the way we write novels in our heads about other people and never, even for a second, try to get into their hearts or allow their hurt touch ours.
There was part of me that doubted always that he’d come back. For my father’s sake, I hoped he would, because it was heart-breaking to see him stand and look to the distance and though he never said what he was looking for, I knew exactly not the “what” but the “who” for whom he longed. My brother.
And despite that, I couldn’t share my father’s joy when someone told me “your brother is back”. The stuff about the “fatted calf” and the celebrations weren’t a concern to me but I just couldn’t bring myself to rise above my small-mindedness and see the bigger picture. We were “family again”.
When my father asked me to join the celebrations, I couldn’t do it. I’ve regretted that so often because I knew it’s what my father wanted more than anything. “All I have is yours” he told me and he meant it. He never denied me anything.
I’m haunted, haunted by that moment. I should have gone in …..