Thursday, October 4, 2012

Alone In A Room Full Of People

It was a day like any other day. There was nothing unusual, other than I was a little lazy and not getting everything done that I thought I should be getting done.

And then the phone rang.

I knew it was my grandma calling because of the ring tone. We started out our conversation as we normally do.

And then I heard words I never, ever, thought I would hear.

My youngest brother took his own life.

I was in shock. I didn't know how to respond.

He was in his mid twenties. He was married. He had an eighteen month old little boy. He had a little girl who was a couple months away from being born.

My heart instantly broke.

The next day we started on our ten hour drive back to my home town. It is always a little difficult for me to go back to my home town because I don't have the best memories. My father still lives in the house that I lived in until I was three. And even though I wasn't allowed to go back there from the age of five until I was eighteen, I still remembered it well.

My father gave me up for adoption when I was five to my step-father. My youngest brother, who took his own life, was from my father's second marriage. I did not get to grow up with my brothers.

Even though I didn't grow up with my brothers, I still loved them like I did. It saddens me that I didn't get to have a close relationship with them. And now, I will never get the opportunity to have one with my youngest brother.

When we arrived in my home town, I felt more like a friend of the family than family. Everyone had been together since he passed away. At the visitation everyone was comforting my family, but hardly anyone knew I was his sister. There were pictures of my brother on a board by his casket. There was a slideshow of family pictures playing on a television on the other side of his casket. Family pictures and I wasn't in any of them.

Have you ever sat in the middle of a room full of people and felt completely alone? That is how I felt at my brother's funeral. My brother's funeral not only reminded me of the brother I didn't get to know, but it also reminded me of the family I didn't get to have.

My family comforted each other by having a big party from the night after he passed away until the early morning hours after his funeral service. They partied for four days. I don't drink and I have four young children to care for, so I didn't go to the party. 

Sitting at the funeral in the family section was awkward. I was sitting in the middle of my other brothers and all of my youngest brother's friends and I felt like I was in the wrong place. I heard whispers asking where his sister was, who she was.

I had blown it. I could have had a relationship with my brother from the time I was eighteen until the time he passed. But I didn't. I was so full of bitterness and feelings of abandonment, that I didn't even try.

The day after the funeral, my husband took our children across the state to visit his family. I stayed back at the hotel because I wanted some time to myself. My dad came to my room and visited for a little while. It was hard seeing my dad the way I did. In the years that I have known him and developed a relationship with him, I had never seen him cry before. My dad sat on the other side of the room and said to me "Of all my kids, he had the most potential. I just don't understand."

I sat there, not knowing how to respond. I tell myself again and again that my dad was grieving and didn't realized he was making that statement to his only daughter.

My brother's funeral made me realize how precious life is. It made me realize that I shouldn't waste any moment of my life with feelings of bitterness. It made me realize that my childhood may have been filled with family who did not treat me the best, but God has blessed my adult life with a wonderful husband and children. I need to stop focusing on the past and start focusing on my present and all my many blessings.

It is my prayer that my children grow up having a close relationship together. That they know they can always depend on each other. That they know they can always depend on God.

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