Apparently last week was “International Siblings Day” Facebook. After looking it up on Wikipedia, I discovered that it wasn’t invented by Facebook, and I felt bad that I had missed the opportunity to tell the world about my amazing relationship with my brother. My one and only sibling.
The Book of Mormon works in mysterious ways. So does our Heavenly Father. When I was learning the lessons getting ready to be baptized, my brother was also undergoing an immense amount of repentance and pain. Heavenly Father began to soften my heart towards my family again. In particular, towards my brother who I had shut out of my life during his involvement in drugs and then prison.
When I was repenting and contrite upon my knees asking my Heavenly Father for forgiveness, I was also asking Him to bless my family, especially my little brother who was suffering the worse loss a person could imagine. Not only the loss of his child; but the loss of a child, barely an adult, for whom he already felt guilt in regards to his absence while that child was younger. I could not imagine his pain.
I was impressed, since it had been many years since we had even spoken, to write a letter to him. Since I was aware that he had previously investigated The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I was also impressed to include a Book of Mormon.
The letter with the Book of Mormon reached his residence at an inpatient facility that was mandated by his probation. His return letter indicated that he was also on the path to a baptism. His, by a church near his treatment home.
My brother and I continued to correspond for his remaining time in treatment. When he returned to the area, against the advice of many who remembered the demonic influences in his life and how he embraced them, I decided to meet with him and get to know my little brother again. It had been decades since we had spent a good amount of time alone. The last time we spent time together at all was during a holiday and it ended in disaster and drama.
My little brother was born to our mother and father when we were living in Port Townsend. It was 1970, and I was almost 4 years old. When our parents divorced almost a year after his birth, we remained with mom. It was the two of us against the world. Usually also against our parents, using one against the other like typical children of divorced parents in the 1970s. Only I was allowed to beat up my brother, and I would beat up anyone else who tried. Yes, I was the type of big sister who volunteers in her baby brother’s kindergarten class. I loved that kid.
Life in our lives wasn’t easy. An angry, abusive step father as well as a biological father who vacillated between being absent and being the worse types of abusive were the father figures we had. Our mother loved us and loved God. She tried to expose us to many different churches so that we could choose for ourselves. This was quite a difficult task, when if we mentioned to dad that we had attended one, we could end up with not only a spanking, but a ring-side seat at a yelling match from hell between our parents. But we attended anyway. As many times as dad asked each of us to deny our God, it was only with a wink to each other and our fingers crossed. Me saying my prayers for forgiveness as well.
Through the typical drama of abusive homes of divorce in the 1970s and 1980s, my brother and I had each other. We could talk about anything. Satan had his way, in many ways in our homes. Finally, a fog of drugs and abuse took my brother from me.
As he furthered his way into the drug world, I separated my young family from his. As his family was being raised by other people, I kept him in my prayers. Then there would come short times when he would sober up, or attempt to hide the fact that he wasn’t; and seek to come around. It broke my heart every time I was forced to shut him out of our lives. For my children’s sake, it was all I knew how to do.
It was my little brother who called me on an August 2000 morning, to inform me of our father’s suicide. Neither one of us had been informed officially, our father’s only children, and we were not informed until 10 months after his death on the weekend of my birthday in 1999. After tearful hours on the phone with his widow, I learned that the timing was not coincidental. In the 15 years that I had not seen or spoken to our father, his abusive obsession with me had not wavered. Our father’s suicide was 50 years after his own father had taken his life when our father was 4.
Major Depressive Disorder, among other challenges, run in our family. Both my brother and I have dealt with this challenge ourselves. After our father’s death, my brother and I saw each other a few times. He was in and out of prison, and I was raising a family. Our mother kept on me to get in contact with him through the years, but it wasn’t until that Book of Mormon that I was impressed to do my best to fix what Satan and our temporal father had attempted through his abuse to tear apart.
Through the summer after I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, my brother and I began to spend a lot of time together. It was the first time since childhood that we had really had the opportunity to get to know one another. I, for one, found in my little brother a friend I never imagined. Someone who knew me, as I knew him. Someone I could give another chance to. Someone I wanted around me.
After a summer full of blessings of the new friendship of siblings, we were put to the test. In October I had been impressed that I had $300 put aside to spend on transportation and I had been frustrated at my lack of a car. I asked my brother to come with me to see if I could find a car to finance. I had the afternoon before an evening meeting at the Family History Center for my new calling.
As we walked, we crossed a double train track. There was clear visibility both directions for at least a quarter mile. We crossed without hesitation. The Holy Ghost was a wonderful companion while car shopping, and amazed my brother by witnessing to us certain flaws to watch out for in each car. I was happy I had prayed that morning. Everything was wonderfully clear.
On our return trip, after having no luck in the auto venture, we came back the same way. Only this time, there was a train stopped on the tracks closest to us. We looked down each way, the train was at least a quarter mile long in both directions; I thought to myself it was going to be a long walk.
While I was thinking this to myself, my little brother did what he had always done while I was in charge of watching him while we were kids: embraced his impulsivity. He said “let’s go” and proceeded to go under the train, stopping to get up between the train tracks before leaning under the train, to beckon me towards him.
I was in absolute shock. I don’t remember speaking at all. I do remember how wide my eyes got when I felt Satan attempt to take my brother. I heard a witness by the Holy Ghost: Come BACK NOW!!!! I frantically motioned for him to come back.
For one of the first time in our lives, my baby brother actually listened to me. As he ducked and went back under the train, we felt the ground begin to rumble; before he was standing upright on my side of the tracks, a train was passing at an extremely rapid pace on the track that my brother was nearly standing upon seconds before.
If I had followed him, and not acknowledged and obeyed The Holy Spirit, neither my brother nor I would be alive today. We were so blessed to spend the holidays together for the first time in years as a family with our only living parent, one of my children, and two of my grandchildren. We are a family and we are blessed.
I did end up spending that $300 on transportation, but that’s another story on the pile for another time.