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Star Wishing On Steps
  Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight...

When I first found out that the bro was sick, I was busy getting my Deutsch on as an exchange student in East Berlin. Talking on the phone with my father, who had tried not to tell me that he was sick again. Somehow I caught on.. even thousands of miles away I can tell when the folks are up to something.... and asked where the bro was. "St. Jude's." was the reply and a flood of images from St. Jude documentaries I had viewed came rushing into my frontal lobe, threatening to pop my eyeballs if I didn't let a tear fall.

I wish I may...

After getting the low down of what was happening and what the doctors said and what tests were being run, I hung up the phone. My host brother, Robert, knew something was up. "Wie geht's?" I looked at him, trying not to cry as crying is like Cryptonite for Germans and said "Mein Brudder ist krank." "Oh shit. Do you need some water?," he asked when he saw that crying was inevitable. "Nah, I'm just going to go sit outside for a bit.. I'll be back." Down the stairs I went, out into the cool Berlin evening. I found a remote step on the side of the flats we lived in and just sat and prepared to cry.

I wish I might...

But nothing came. I couldn't do anything but just stare up at the night sky and let my brian whirl and whirl. Images of the bro hooked up to machines and getting blood taken out of him and his little 6 year old eyes with a glint of fear looking at the adults around him.. not really sure what was going on.. 'Life is so god damn unfair. What the fuck? What the fuck did a 6 year old do to deserve this? How the hell can any one explain the benefit of this? GOD DAMMIT.'

I never felt further away from my family at that moment. I knew that there was an ocean already keeping us apart, along with a couple of countries... I felt small. I felt helpless. I felt like I was trapped in a cage that was suspended above the rest of humanity.

Have the wish...

That's when I looked up at the stars. One single, little bitty star was looking back at me. It twinkled. I waited a couple of seconds to make sure that it wasn't a plane.

I wish tonight...

Fast forward to last night... almost seven years later. Again, I am sitting on a step outside the housing that I am staying at while visiting my brother. I had just spent the last 5 hours sitting with him and his mother in a hospital room. He had to be readmitted to the hospital last night as he somehow got a fever of about 103 degrees. He is very thin. His hair is slowly growing back. He can't walk very far without getting tired. He can't go outside without wearing a mask and layers of clothes to keep him warm. The doctors say that he's doing remarkably well. They say all of his levels and cultures and readings are doing fantastic. They say that getting fevers is part of it. They say that slow weight gain is to be expected. I still can't stop my mind from secretly cursing them and the Universe for being so incredibly unfair. And I look at his eyes as all the comotion goes on about him. He looks bak at me. The bro has the eyes of an old soul. They know something more than other eyes I've looked into before. They don't look frightened. They almost seem a bit bored, a bit tired, a bit amused. He says, "Hey, Leroy, look." His skinny finger points at the television where Who's Line Is It Anyway? entertains him with some sort of improv antics. "Those guys are great... Ryan's my favorite." We then get in a debate about Ryan vs. Collin in improv and suddenly the hospital world around me disappears and it's just me and the bro, like old times. When he finally starts to fall asleep, I take my leave and walk back to my temporary quarters. Before entering, I take a seat on the steps as I know I need to take a moment.

I look up at the stars. There's a single star looking down at me. It twinkles. I wait a couple of seconds to make sure it's not a plane. When it remains stationary, I begin the ritual that I've established and repeated for the last seven years at every star sighting, at every birthday wish, at every passage beneath a train bridge while a train chugs along above.

Grant the wish I wish tonight..

Please let my brother become healthy. Please let him never have to give another blood sample. Please let him be able to have a some what normal life style. Please let him not have to go through any more of this hospital stuff. Please make sure that he knows that I love him and that he's the apple of my eye and that I would do anything for him if he asked. Please let the bro get better. Thanks.

It's during the wish part that the crying comes easily and freely. And it usually lasts the span of time it takes me to make the wish and then some. Afterwards, I feel a bit more comforted. A bit closer to him, even if I'm hundreds of miles away or just down the street.

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Copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 L.Leroy