Circle of Life

So much happened today, I don’t know where to begin. I awoke to the kitty meowing for his breakfast. My mom and I prepared our dishes to take to my sister’s for Christmas dinner. Which wasn’t really dinner because it was 2:00 p.m. I made roasted garlic mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts. And banana nut bread. Why am I writing about the food?

My mom and I exchanged gifts. She gave me a book on 2013 wines from around the world. Ironic. She also gave me a pony. It was a stuffed animal. I cried. I’d always wanted a horse growing up, and she finally gave me one. Yes, I cried about a stuffed pony. I’m an emotional wreck. I gave my mother a Kindle paper white.  She used to love to read. Until she had no time for herself when she was caring for my dad.

This first Christmas without Dad was stark. The tree was small. The gifts underneath were few. The festivities were nonexistent. So I ate.

I’m scattered. This post is choppy. It doesn’t flow. Like my thoughts.

At my sister’s, gifts were exchanged. I wasn’t given anything, which exemplifies my estrangement from my sister and her husband these past four years. Until my brother and father died this year, and we were forced to spend time together.

My sister showed us a gift she got from my oldest niece, my god-daughter, and my parents’ first grandchild. It was a onesie that said, “I love grandma and grandpa.”

“Oh my god, you’re pregnant?” I burst out.

My niece is 11 weeks pregnant. She conceived within weeks (days?) of when my dad died. I cried. I hugged my niece. I hugged my mother. I even hugged my sister.

My mom said, “This is the first good thing that’s happened all year.”

I hugged her again and cried some more.

I’m filled with joy and my heart aches at the same time. I’m crying as I write this.

It was an emotional afternoon. An emotional three days. And it wasn’t over yet.

My mom and I left my sister’s and went back home to visit with the remaining four grandchildren: my deceased brother’s two boys (men, now), and my barely-alive brother’s son and daughter.

As we turned onto my mother’s street, my brother was heading the other way. He looked dazed, sitting at the stop sign in his truck. His face was scraped up, with fresh scabs on his nose and forehead. My mother told him to turn around and go back to her house.

My brother entered the house using a walker. He was clearly intoxicated; but then, he always is. I went upstairs to get my bags to take out to my car. And to steel myself for interacting with my brother.  I was determined to be compassionate, rather than angry.

I hugged him. He held on to me and cried and I stroked his hair.

“You’re my little sister,” he said, as he held on to me.

“You need help,” I said gently. He nodded his head.

“I want my big brother back. We’re going to get you help, okay?”

He nodded again.

Ten minutes later, there was a shift.

“I’m not going to any doctor. No doctors.”

I told him he was going to die, then. Within six months, if not sooner.

“No, I’m not going to die.”

“If you don’t get help, you will.”

He jumped up to go to the restroom. He didn’t make it. He came back into the room, his pants wet. He slumped back into the chair.

“What happened to your face?” I asked him.

“I fell again.”

Later, when he left the room again, I said to my mom, “I don’t understand how you can’t see it. He’s not going to last much longer.”

“I see it,” she said. “I’ll do whatever you need me to do.”

“Mom, if we do the intervention, you have to be prepared to follow through on the ultimatum. You have to be prepared to fire him if he refuses to go.”

“I’ll do whatever we need to do.”

She was beaten down. Tired. The denial had crumbled.

I hugged her.

“There’s hope, Mom. There’s still hope.”

My brother is 52. It’s too soon for him to close the circle.


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