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'WIBTA for asking my mom if she lied, and I had an older brother who died?'

'WIBTA for asking my mom if she lied, and I had an older brother who died?'


WIBTA for asking my mom if she lied, and I had an older brother who died?


This is wild, and I know it sounds like some crappy 1950s mystery movie, but I've struggled with this for years (23F). I have vague memories of a boy and when I remember the memories, I'm overcome with a sense of love and loss. When I was younger, thinking about him would make me cry.

When I was about 9, I found pictures of him and a family friend's son ("J") for the first time and was excited because I thought he'd been an imaginary friend since everyone acted like they didn't know who I was talking about.

My mom said that one was J, but the boy I remembered, she didn't know, so it must have been his friend. I was content with this since I hung out with J all the time before we moved, and figured I'd met him then.

Years later when I was in high school, we moved in with my Granny because she got sick. She never let me see or touch her keys, and I figured it was because, as a kid, she was afraid of me losing them. One day though, her friend picked her up and she left her keys.

There were those keychain kindergarten pictures you get from school photos- one of me, one of my little sister, and one of the boy. I was shocked, and when Granny got home, I asked her about it. She started sobbing but wouldn't talk for the rest of the night. The next day, she told me never to ask about him again.

Shortly after, she asked for help sorting through stuff. I found a box full of baby boy toys, and clothes that would fit a six or seven year old. Granny yanked the box away and told me she didn't need my help anymore and locked herself in her room.

When she was well enough for us to move back home, I was helping my mom sort through pictures and found a whole rubber banded stack of photos of the boy from a few months old until third grade. Mom got very quiet but said she must have gotten them from the J's mom by mistake.

For years I've let it go, but recently I found more pictures that were mixed up in my baby book. They obviously got stuck and weren't meant to be there, but now I'm burning with curiosity.

If I didn't have memories of him, I would say it's none of my business, but I remember this boy, and I know it can't be a cousin or a crazy young Uncle since Granny had a hysterectomy after Mom.

I think he either died in the fire that happened when I was 3-4, or he was born with a hereditary heart condition that almost killed my little sister. I don't want to bring up more pain, but I remember him, and for years I thought I imagined him. Don't I deserve an answer to my own memories? Or WIBTA for bringing up a potential death of my mom's child?

Edit: Another reason I want to know is because I want to know if the hereditary heart condition did kill him and isn't as much of a "fluke" as my parent said because I want kids and to know their risk.

My Dad died four years ago and said he was sorry for "everything" but wouldn't specify, and when I asked my Mom, she gave me generic answers. My sister also has no memories of him because I think she was born 3-5 years after he died, so we can't compare.

Edit 2: I didn't think about calling the county and asking for death records, but I now plan to. I also might use or something similar for answers, despite my Granny always getting upset/angry when I've brought it up before.

I'm also fine if this is all some kind of super weird misunderstanding and I don't have a brother, but my Granny's reactions and her having that stuff is what makes me really think it's family and not some random friend of J's from my early childhood.

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's post:


You should ask. You’re an adult and this is affecting you. Maybe your parents thought they were protecting you and thought you wouldn’t remember, or maybe it’s just painful and they chose not to talk about it. Either way, I think you’re entitled to answers. NTA.

The OP responded here:


They know I remember him because I used to ask why I couldn't see "him" (I was told I always just said "him", not a name) anymore. My Dad said it was probably a spirit attached to the old house, and my mom said it was probably a friend from daycare that got mixed up in my head with other memories because I was too young, so I know they know I remember.

Maybe it is too hard to talk about, but I feel like I'm crazy, and I also want to know if he died from hereditary issues so I know if it's dangerous for my future kids, since I was always told my sister was a fluke.


Have you brought it up with them again lately? If they still can’t be honest with you (and your assumptions are correct) it sounds like they need some grief counselling. You also may need to find a way to do some snooping on your own if you can’t get them to open up.

The OP again responded:


I tried right before my Dad died when I was 19 since he said he was sorry for everything, but wouldn't say what "everything" was. Mom just said that he was sorry for working so much and not being very affectionate, and shuts down anytime I try asking, even now.

My Granny also always insisted on me going to her for family tree projects (she has a list going back to her 4x great grandparents) if I needed to in school and had a fit when I brought up using, so I've considered doing it now that I'm grown, but it weirdly feels like a breech of privacy.


You’re trying to get answers about your own childhood memories. I think you’re well within your rights to continue investigating this however you choose.


NTA. Yo. What?!? This is wild. If this is true and you had a brother who died, then maybe your mom and granny thought they were protecting you by keeping that loss from you. But as you got older and you start asking about him, they should have come clean and told you so you aren’t confused and they should let you grieve.

I don’t know, if it’s true, I kinda think your mom and grandma are the assholes. If it’s true. I definitely don’t think you would be the asshole for asking. There is too much weird stuff over too long a period of time.

Also side note: if you’re going to lie for eternity about a dead child, maybe hide everything better and come up with a better story why you have that stuff? Otherwise it’s bound to come up, so they’re essentially setting themselves up to be asked.

So, what do you think about this one? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you tell them?

Sources: Reddit
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