There were four boys - two brothers, Lucky, and then my little brother. They all met as teenagers. They all bonded as brothers. They grew up together and stayed close, even as they grew into adults. When my mom threw my little brother out at 16, one of their parents took him in. When my brother was living with my dad at 17 and found out Lucky was living in the park more or less, my father took him in. These four boys - men now - introduce themselves as foster-brothers, and it is pretty much the truth.
Lucky, when he was 12, got leukemia. He fought tooth and nail to beat it, and he did, but the treatments decimated his health. He never grew past age 12. He had lung damage, among other things. On top of that, he drank far too much for his liver and everywhere he lived, someone smoked, further damaging his lungs. He got the name Lucky though, not just for beating his illness, but because inevitably, no matter where they went, Lucky was always the one who went home with the girl.
Ten years ago he was living with a smoker, on government disability, when my brother hadn't heard from him in three days so went to check. Lucky was in bed, high fever, cough, hadn't been able to get up to eat, drink or use the bathroom in like two days. His roommate? Blaise and unconcerned, not his problem. My brother called an ambulance. After a few days in the hospital, they told him he could go home, but not to a smoking roommate. He had nowhere else to go, but they said returning to that apartment would kill him in a matter of weeks. He was too stubborn to call his mom. He was going home. My brother was pissed and called my dad. Dad in turn called Lucky. Lucky protested. Dad told him to shut the hell up and get his stuff together, he was moving into my brother's old room. Lucky shut the hell up. He and Dad have lived together ten years now. It made us feel better, knowing Dad had someone else in the house. It made Lucky's family feel better too. Plus he finally got to have his dog back from when he'd had to leave her at his mom's. It'd been a year since my dad's dog had died and it was perfect timing for him to have another animal too. They both adored that dog.
Over time he went from just needing his oxygen at night, to needing it for a simple trip to the refrigerator. This past weekend Lucky went to visit his mom and didn't come home. Last night his sister called to confirm Dad's suspicions that Lucky had ended up in the hospital. It was bad and Lucky was ready to be done fighting it all. His lungs were done. His body was done. He was done. This morning he woke up, saw all of his family asleep in his hospital room, said, "Damn, they all went before me," closed his eyes and, in less than a half hour, was gone.
My dad inviting him into his home like that gave Lucky ten more years. As my sister said today, that may be the greatest thing my dad has ever done, giving that kid ten years he didn't have otherwise. He wasn't quite my brother, but he was my brother's brother and my father's son, and that makes him family. That bedroom at the end of the hallway will forever be Lucky's room.
Goodbye, Calvin. You'll be missed.