Occasionally in the last few weeks I have been transported back into my childhood, vividly experiencing the sights, smells and feelings of what seems like another life ago. Family is complicated. Mine is intertwined and layered, and so honestly, I have the not so wonderful ability to build some neat little walls around the “big family” while placing my focus squarely on the family that lives under my roof. Alas, as my Phoenix process continues, the tap, tap, tap of the hammer tears at these boundaries, and I am reminded that the love that I am trying to more clearly show to those around me, could also be extended to those that are also dear to me but may not be aware.
I met my step-brother when I was eight and he was thirteen. Accustomed to having my own show until that time, I was unclear if I appreciated the intrusion. He started visiting regularly, lived with us for a year or so and during that time, life was a mix of torture and bliss. While I finally had someone to ride bikes with and talk to, unfortunately, his favorite pastime was to scare me. Whether driving all crazy with me on the back of his motorcycle or torturing me with my weakness of scary movies, his eyes would literally twinkle when he would come up with some devious plan like convincing me to ride bikes through the woods and then start whispering the Friday the 13th spooky chant. He would do stupid stuff like blow fire out of his mouth like his favorite band KISS, and I just as stupid, would watch him and almost get my hair burned—more than once– in the process. When I think back about it, the best part about that time with him was that he would not let me take myself so seriously. While completely horrified, I found myself laughing a lot. He was….a brother.
Eventually, he grew up, married a wonderful woman, became a youth pastor, had three fantastic kids and centers his world around showing the love of Christ with his big heart and funny sayings. I moved away and we lost touch, It has been years since I have seen him. This last week he had a brain hemorrhage and as he slowly recovers, our relationship has been on my mind. When I read on Facebook my niece’s comments about how she was feeling scared and alone as her father lie in a hospital bed, I felt ashamed. Where did the time go and where was the effort to maintain these relationships? Distance with relationships is not unusual, I recognize that. In our transient world, real effort needs to be made to carve out time to the ones outside of our local “community.” There seems to be so little extra hours in the day to connect with old friends, distant family, or even the world in need. How do we commit ourselves to do our part? Are we willing to let the family reunions subside; willing to sacrifice the vacation to Yellowstone for the vacation to anywhere USA for a family visit? I do not come with answers today….just the question that I’m left with after learning about this life threatening situation via social media……am I happy about where ALL of my relationships stand? Are you?