For those of you who do not know, 13 days ago my brother was taken to the hospital and had been unresponsive for more than a week.
He is healing now and so are we as a family. Over the years some of us have drifted apart and although none of us wished to come together like this, this tragedy has come with many blessings.
My siblings and I have always been a little rebellious (somewhat of an understatement). All three of us chose paths that varied greatly from the way we were raised.
We march to the beat of our own drums and that has at times lead us in very different directions.
It’s a struggle finding your place in this world and it has been harder for some of us than others.
However one thing has never changed, the amount of love we have for one another. The evidence of that has shined brightly as we have all come together in this most difficult time.
When I heard the news all I could think of was that it couldn’t be true. I didn’t know how to process. My brother and I have never been the type to stay in constant contact, but we didn’t need to. Years would go by when we wouldn’t see one another but then one of us would reach out and it was like no time had passed.
Family has always been a sensitive subject for me. As much as I have been loved and accepted by others, in the true sense of it all, I’ve always felt like the odd one out. My brother & sister share blood and they were adopted by my God Parents, those who I consider to be my parents, but my time with them was cut short (not by my choice or theirs). I treasure every moment I was able to have with them, however short it may have been. Had I been given the choice way back then I never would have left, but I realize had that been the case, I may have become a very different person…and I rather like the person I have become.
I didn’t have the childhood my brother & sister had. I was always on the outside looking in on the family I left behind. And over the years, many others have graciously accepted me into their families as one of their own. Yet even still, there has always been something in the back of my mind reminding me that at the end of the day, I am still an outsider.
I am sure they would disagree, but I can’t shake the feeling. I’ve never been able to. I know I’m loved, but it feels like that always comes with a caveat of some kind.
And so, I have allowed myself to embrace life behind the scenes. I shut people out as a defense mechanism for fear I will be reminded that I am not truly part of the pack.
And as I’ve learned, that will only cause them to drift farther away.
I was young when my sister had her kids and our parents would still help me out from time to time with the expense of the trip, so I was able to visit more. And although we are not super close, I know they know I love them and they understand.
My brother’s kids are a different story and my heart breaks every time I think about them, so I try not to. His ex’s have made it indirectly clear they don’t really consider me as part of my brother’s family. Once they were no longer together, I no longer mattered. I just hope the girls know that is absolutely not the case. I love them just as much as I love my sister’s boys, I have just sort of been cut out of their lives.
And not for lack of trying on my brother’s behalf. He doesn’t have them all the time, but he keeps me updated as do my parents. So I have resolved to watching them grow up in pictures and the heart breaking fact that they may never get to know their other aunt nor I them.
I guess the point that I am getting to is this family has a lot of healing to do.
It can be so easy to pass judgment on those who live a different lifestyle than you and I am not saying that my brother is perfect or that any of us are for that matter, but I think it is so important not to forget that from the outside looking, things are not always what they appear. We all make mistakes, some of us over indulge, but all of us deserve a second chance.
The last time my brother and I talked, we were on the phone for hours. We opened up to one another about how we were trying to deal with our demons. And the biggest beast in particular, never feeling good enough. All three of us siblings have always struggled with the knowing that we didn’t and may never live up to our parents expectations.
Although rooted in love, the higher they were the more difficult it was when we couldn’t reach them. I am realizing now that what we should have been doing all these years, instead of being afraid to be ourselves, was to embrace our true selves and stop looking for this constant approval from everyone else.
My sister has almost mastered it, so I think we may both need to take a page from her book!
A few months ago we almost lost dad and now, almost losing my brother too, has made me realize even more how life as we know it can change. Anyone can be taken away at any moment.
It can be easy in a situation like this to put some of the blame on others or project our anger in the direction of the things we do not completely understand. But the truth is what happened to my brother happened and we can’t change that. What we can change is our reaction to it, to him. We need to be supportive, understanding and root our actions in only love.
Some may disagree and that’s okay, but regardless of that, at the end of the day, it is what it is and the road to recovery for all of us is going to be acceptance and understanding, not anger and blame.
That’s what got us all into this mess, the judgement, this distance, this separation from one another. It is harder to reach someone or help them in anyway when they reside in a state of fearing disappointment.
And the way we get through all of this, the way we all heal, is to love without expectations, to accept those dear to us not despite their faults, but inclusive of them.
It can be helpful to remember that we are all doing the best we can with what we have at any given time. I am not saying we completely forget bad behavior, but chastising people for the struggles they are fighting will only push them further away and the further away you push them the harder it is to mend those fences (or stone hedges in some cases).
When my brother wakes up and I say WHEN! I hope we will all do well to remember that. I know I’ll never forget it.
I love you big brother, keep fighting, I miss you so much.