Where we wrestle with the sublime, mysterious, powerful and often frustrating paradox of God's necessary grace.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Avalanche, cont'd:

My sister J. called an hour ago. Doctors found a mass in my brother's skull, but he can't remember what they told him, just the number "20." My wife says his symptoms could easily be the result of something interfering with the brain's proper functioning. We'll know more when my other sister, G., talks with the doctors today or tomorrow.

How am I doing? Here's pieces of an email I sent yesterday to a friend:

You also may not like me as much after you finish, although you'll understand me a bit more.

Still reading? Okay, onward:

I am holding up, but I don't know if it could be called "well."

Latest news is, my brother is doing better and has been transferred out of ICU and into a sort of ICU-lite ward. He's sounding stronger, according to my sister.

This whole situation has been an emotional whipsaw for me. Driving down there to see him was...I don't know. I don't want to use the term "traumatic", but it had its own drama and difficulties.

Then seeing him there, asleep in the bed in that godawful cramped, tiny hospital room, gasping for breath like a fish on a slab, and knowing I could be looking at my own future but I was definitely looking at my past.

(He and I had a bitter, antagonistic relationship growing up, colored by rage and contempt as well as surprising bouts of humor and affection. I remember at age 13 or so yelling at him I would laugh when he died. Typically, he then threw something at me, I believe, and I ran away. Welcome to my life. We later reconciled to a large extent after I moved home in my early 30s, but our relationship was still not an easy one for me.)

Seeing him in the hospital I wanted him to die so his suffering would end and so I wouldn't have to deal with him anymore. I wanted him to live because that's what you do with family, you don't want them to die, right? I wanted him to live because as a good Christian you don't wish death on anyone, right?

His condition improved, the docs were able to break his fever and stabilize his heartrate. Then two days later we hear he's been moved to ICU and his condition has worsened. The news is not encouraging.

By now I'm girding my loins to get the call from my sister: "He's gone." She and I, executors of his estate, start talking about disposition of property. I'm in this state for two days and then I hear his condition has reversed and he's doing better.

So now I go from planning his memorial to thinking about his after-care when he gets home. By this point I'm ready to drive down there and smother him with a pillow just so his condition won't keep fluctuating and carrying me along for the ride! (Insert complicated emotions emoticon here.)

Part of me wants him to die so I can be free of him and his controlling, manipulative behavior, his denial, his continual and unrelenting demand I be a properly grateful and unquestioning member of Mom's family. Another part of me is properly horrified at me wanting death for him and wags its finger at the first part. The first part is glaring at the second part and reaching for the neck of a broken bottle....

See? Only a few minor issues to be swept up from the rumpus room floor of my psyche, right?Heck, yeah! Woooo!

When I was in my late 20s I learned I would, sooner or later, have to forgive my brother. I've had to work through a shitload of forgiveness concerning him these past 20+ years, and I'm not done yet. Still have a long way to go.

Yet God continues to give me grace, often when I least expect it. The fact I am able to forgive him at all, even for 5 minutes, speaks of His grace. This is a road of stumbling for me, but stumbly or not, I'm on it. My motives are mostly selfish and self-serving--more concerned with my own survival than with any innate nobility or spiritual puissance. So I come to Him with my load of dross, knowing only He can transform it into something better.

In my mind, this is akin to picking up Hoover Dam and turning it around. Not gonna happen overnight. But happen it must and happen it will. Somehow. This is where I get to trust God's grace for me, in me, in the lives of those who love me.

No comments: