Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Protector...

My heart is feeling a hurt that it has never felt before...

...my body aches from sleepless nights...

My throat burns from holding back the sobs...the need to stay strong for my mother and my brother's wife and children.

Unanswered questions swirl in my head, occupying my thoughts throughout the day and into the night.

Today I indulged in conversation over a cup of coffee with a dear friend and he reminded me that I need to grieve...

...I don't have time...my first response.  I need to be strong...my second reply.

But now I sit...

...alone in a dark room, the light of my laptop screen producing a soft glow...my eyelids feel heavy and my heartbeat slows as I draw in a deep breath...

...and I cry.  Quietly at first...

...and then heavy sobs...

"I'm sorry..." the words are directed towards the heavens.  "I'm sorry I couldn't protect you." 

I realize that I labeled myself as my brother's protector...my need to "rescue" him, to watch over him, to keep him safe...the desire to protect my baby brother from the hurt I felt at the tender age of seven and Cal only two when our father walked away...never did I want my brother to feel that pain...

...and my "motherly" instincts never grew weary...they became stronger as my brother grew into a lively little boy...chasing him on the playground at Belair School, warning him to slow down, fearful he would trip and fall and scrape his knee.

...I was fourteen years old, my brother nine...our parents had gone out for an "adult only" dinner and I was left in charge...Cal had asked if we could watch a scary movie, boasting that he wasn't scared, he assured me he knew it was "fake stuff"...it was after midnight when he tiptoed into my bedroom and whispered, "Betsy, can I sleep in your bed...I'm not scared, I'm just uncomfortable..." and I lifted the covers and invited him into the safety of my flowered sheets and hand quilted covers...

...of course those "motherly" instincts turned into frustration when Cal became a teenager...the back and forth yelling, "Hang up the phone Cal!!!  Quit listening to my conversations!!!"  only to be pushed into deeper aggravation as he taunted me with "Betsy and Jason sitting in a tree...." 

When Cal's heart was broken for the first time by his first "real" girlfriend, we sat on the roof of our home and I shared the coveted "what girls really think" secrets to lessen his confusion...

When Cal's first child was growing in her mother's womb, Cal and I sat on my living room couch and I held his hand and wiped his tears, assuring him that he would be the best father in the whole world...and he was.  He was so scared, not wanting to repeat the same mistakes our father had made...he felt that his unborn child would be his greatest opportunity to prove what an incredible young man he was...I whispered how proud of him I was, how beautiful his heart was and I instilled in him the confidence that he so very much needed.

Protector...it was my role as a big sister....

...and the sadness overwhelms me as I could not protect him from an awful disease that claimed his life.

But my role as my brother's protector does not end with his death...

...it continues with his children, with his wife and with our mother.

And I wipe my tears...

...and I swallow the sadness...

...and I shut down my laptop.  And I sit in the stillness of the dark...

...and I whisper to the heavens...

"I love you forever.  Rest in peace."

4 comments:

  1. Sweet Betsy. No kinder, more heartfelt words have been written to express a sister's love for her brother. I, too, lost a younger brother but I didn't have as many years with Doug as you did with Cal. May God wrap His loving arms around you and give you peace.

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  2. Denise Kremer PittmanAugust 10, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    My Dearest Betsy....I am so proud of you for taking time to grieve, for loving with all of your heart and for being the amazing woman that you are. You are an inspiration to all of us who have siblings to be better at being a family....a family that loves unconditionally, through the highs and the lows as we know we all have them. I thought of you today when I fell upon a verse that I had written down a few months ago at a motivational meeting, and that is....The Will of God will never lead you where the Grace of God does not protect you.....Our God, an awesome God and heaven....the place we all pray to be after our life on Earth is complete. Love You Girl!

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  3. Betsy - I just wanted to tell you it's OK with me if you blog about Cal everyday the rest of your life. Get it all out. Share him with us. I will read everyday and cry right along with you. I love you!

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  4. I feel the same way Betsy. I feel like everything I know about health and wellness doesn't mean jack if it couldn't reach our brother to save him and isn't saving our dad.. But I can't give up. There are people out there that can be helped. It's very hard to move past Cal not coming back. It makes me not want to do or care about anything at times. Please keep being strong and I will too. I LOVE YOU! Jordan

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