Two years ago, I met a local family who I almost immediately formed a relationship with. I won’t provide any names ar locations, so as to protect the family’s privacy. This family was made up of a young mother, a father and a daughter who was two years old. We’ll call the girl Suzy. Suzy’s father was a recovered drug addict, who by the grace of God had been drug free since before she was born. He was going on three years of sobriety, which was an active daily process for him. He still attented narcotics anonymous meetings, and took the program seriously.

Suzy’s father seemed like a very kind man to me, and always greeted me with warmth. I was very impressed with how well he had cleaned up his life to prepare for the birth of a baby girl. Suzy’s mother was very happy as well.

Suzy and I bonded, as I played dolls and hide and go seek with her. It was clear that, like most children, Suzy just wanted to have some attention. Everything seemed to be going great when suddenly things fell apart.

Suzy’s mother discovered that she was pregnant. Suzy’s father relapsed.

To be honest, I never really knew what black tar heroin was, until I saw it on the bathroom sink next to a spoon that was bent with a burn mark in the center of it. I never really knew what a heroin addict looked like until I saw Suzy’s father nodding out on the recliner while I tried to keep her from asking her Daddy what was wrong.

“Brother” is a song that I started writing around the time that I met the family, and put on a shelf. The inspiration just wasn’t there to take the song anywhere. It had started out as clumped together thoughts of what I might say to myself as a child, how I might offer a form of encouragement that would weigh anchor in my heart better than what my therapists were telling me. The original idea was to write a song that was inspirational to a kid with a rough life, and so the first verse was born and then shelved.

When Suzy’s father started doing heroin again, it introduced me to a world that I wish I’d have never known. Suzy, who was formerly well-behaved and quiet, started crying and having wild temper tantrums. Suzy’s mother had to not only endure pregnancy, but a far greater pain as well.

I reached up and grabbed “Brother” back off of the shelf, and it was written within hours. I feel like people often feel like they are different because of the thoughts that they have. They are embarassed to talk about things like depression, anger and guilt because they don’t want to be judged.

“They say it’s all in my head,

that it’s all in my head,

if it’s all in my head,

what’s this song in my head?”

This part of the song is about empathy. It’s about being able to let somebody know that they are not alone in their thoughts- that if they are crazy, then everybody is crazy.

I haven’t seen or communicated with this family for well over a year now, so I can only pray that things have gotten better for them. They ended up having a baby boy. It’s crazy how much impact a short lived relationship can have on your life- for better or for worse. “Brother” will always be an important song to me, and will always carry a greater meaning than I could ever portray in three verses and three choruses.

Listen to “Brother”