Growing up with a drug-addicted brother, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about forgiveness. And trust. And what happens next, once reality sets in (again) that the life-long relationships that a lot of siblings forge aren’t are on the horizon.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve spoken to my brother. After he came to Alabama for Thanksgiving in 2012 and fell further apart–physically and emotionally–his harassing phone calls and threats began. Until I couldn’t handle it anymore.
These days, I learn about Joe’s comings and goings from friends and relatives living in Illinois. Even then, it’s hearsay, since most people have distanced themselves from my brother out of necessity. Those he’s threatened with physical harm and emotional turmoil have filed orders of protection, while those he’s harassed from afar have simply widened the space between themselves and him.
Most “successful” cancer survivors I know, those who are able to find a sense of peace and normalcy after a cancer diagnosis, have learned to navigate the messiness of their situation. On the one hand, once cancer comes knocking, there remains a sense that it could return. On the other, a life spent waiting and worrying is tedious and unfulfilling. Wasted time, however unsettling it might be.
Surviving the loss of a family member who is, at the same time, out there somewhere moving on (or in Joe’s case, possibly drifting further away), requires the ability to accept uncertainty. It is what it is. It’s life.