The Simple Life: Gone in an Instant
New Year's resolutions. I haven't decided if they are worth making. If I do, there's the pressure I feel to create a list of resolutions (as if this listmaker has problems making lists!). Then, there's the stress I put myself under for holding myself accountable to keeping those resolutions and meeting my own expectations.
If I don't make a list of resolutions, there are no goals to strive to reach, no motivation to grow and better myself and no reason to worry about the disappointment I would most likely feel when resolutions were not kept.
Last year at this time, I had decided to just set several New Year's resolutions - one being to build a better relationship with my brother Ricky (who actually preferred to be called Oscar). This actually turned out to be a bittersweet resolution.
As it turned out, my brother and I were really able to reconnect and begin working on restoring an honest brother/sister relationship. We ended up establishing a regular weekly long distance conversation, which for me oft times resulting in a 90-minute sobbing session as we talked about very painful things from our young teen years - things that had remained dormant for decades. Many of these things were heartbreaking, life-altering - opening up wounds that someone less courageous might want buried six feet under forever.
Ricky would many times cry right along with me, as we experienced things quite differently than our two sisters. Ricky and I shared a tragic bond, as we suffered many things that no children should have to suffer. We became soldiers of silence in a time when bad things were not talked about, and for the rest of our lives, we fought those demons the best way we knew best. Broken children are the saddest of all because it seemed there was no one to turn to, and no one we could share our stories.
Ricky and I developed a rapport we had not had for years, and although there was nothing we could do about the past, he asked many questions about God and my faith, and how I could ever find forgiveness in my heart. Ricky found it very difficult to understand how my heart was softened by the love of a caring God, and expressed how he felt God had deserted him so long ago. I took advantage of this opportunity to tell him that forgiveness came with a price not one person in my life understood. My brother was the only one who could understand the uphill climb it was.
We would continue to talk through mid-July or so - trying to find comfort between two people who had experienced betrayal in horrific ways. We each learned so much about each other - different ways of coping with the unimaginable and the unexpected.
Shortly after the first of August this year, I received a telephone call from Pittsburgh that my brother Ricky had passed away, alone in his apartment - just days after he celebrated his 61st birthday. My brother - all alone as he took his last breath - a tragic ending to a life filled with the joys and sadnesses of life. It broke my heart.
What I’d like to remind everyone of is that we never know what will come our way. We never know what monsters lurk and the pain they can inflict. We never know about tomorrow, but for today we can make that commitment to dedicating our lives to making wise choices, and honoring the few resolutions we make to improve our faith, to remember the kindness we bestow to others and the compassion we show to those who are suffering. We CAN make a difference - one resolution at a time, one decision at a time.
Don’t let those phone calls wait, for one day that brother will be gone in an instant. The regrets are everlasting.
God’s blessings, my friends. Until next year.