John Lennon was not my favorite Beatle. I loved him mostly because he and my brother looked so much alike.
When my brother was in high school, the Beatles were huge. Being ten years younger than my brother, I learned about the Beatles from him. I sat on the edge of my chair and screamed like a hormonal teenager the night they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. I was too young to have hormones or crushes. But I loved "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and I loved my brother. You look just like him, I squealed.
My brother told me to shut up, he couldn't hear the music. Soon all the girls in his circle were calling him "John Lennon." My brother was an accidental rock star.
As John Lennon's music and persona changed, so did my brother's. Magical Mystery Tour came out and he invited me into his bedroom, (where I was normally forbidden) to listen to "I am the Walrus." My brother lay in the dark without a word. I sat on the floor and tried to hear what he heard. It was important to have the right answer if he quizzed me. He did. What do you think it means? The hell if I knew. I was a kid. I was still listening to The Sound of Music and acting out all the parts in front of the mirror. I think I made something up that might have impressed him or not, and I was dismissed. Get out of my room, Runt.
It was around the time the Beatles followed the Maharishi, that my brother made his first visit to India. He too seemed to be on some spiritual path, except without the kindness and compassion. I worried about my brother constantly. I worried that he took LSD after I learned what "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was about. By the time John Lennon married Yoko Ono and transformed into someone unrecognizable from the bopping Brit on the Ed Sullivan show, my brother had moved to Nepal. He'd come back every couple of years to visit. He seemed more remote every time.
When John Lennon was killed that December day, I was stunned. I cried for days. My friends and I played nothing but Beatles music for weeks in our apartment. I missed my brother. Somehow they were always intertwined in my mind and heart.
My brother is alive. He still lives in Nepal. The last time I saw him was twenty years after not seeing him. He looked painfully thin, and his hair was grey. I wanted us to connect so badly.
What did you do to your hair?
After twenty years, this was his biggest concern. That I had chopped off my long hair. I knew it wasn't going to be the visit I'd hoped for. We made the trip to the cemetery where our mother is buried. We put the requisite stones on the headstone. He never said a word that day.
We haven't spoken in years. My brother was really nothing like John Lennon. He had the Beatle haircut in the '60's and later the whole drug/India/mind expanding thing going on. Our last interaction years ago was ugly. And like the Lennon song says, I just have to let it go.
I think of him every December 8th. I think of him whenever I hear a Beatle song, really. I made him into something he wasn't, as little sisters naturally do.
I miss who I wish he had been. More like John Lennon, maybe.