I planned on writing the next two parts of my story last week. I had things in my mind that started to play out in a way that were a little too real.
So, I put it off. I don't know if I literally left anyone hanging... but I kind of left myself hanging. There in the year 1990 where all emotions were high and nothing seemed as if it could go anywhere but upward... But it didn't. And maybe I just didn't want to drudge through the memories of it... but to remain in its tumult is unfair to myself because we did all come through it with God's help.
So there we were. My sophomore year of high school, and I was back with my best friend whom I cherish like no other. That was the year we became inseparable. Only God knew how I would need a friend with whom I could be totally honest. Completely and utterly myself when "myself" wasn't good enough for others. When I wasn't at her house, she was at mine. Few were the days or nights we'd spend apart... well, aside from the school nights. And even then we'd somehow convince our parents to allow us to stay over sometimes. I felt safe with her. I thank God even today for the safety of her. Nothing judged, nothing expected, just open arms of love. Then. Now. Always. She truly is a picture of Christ in my life!
But the safety sometimes evaporated at her absence. Older brother was pushing the limits like never before. Sometimes I think that the reason he and my mom didn't see eye to eye on things is because they are just too much alike. Stubborn and argumentative. But limits were crossed. Brother had wielded his quick tongue and lashed at a delicate piece of my mom's heart once too much. And she took a swing. I'll never forget that day. Having to physically pull your mother and brother off each other in a brawl is something that no one should have to experience. They had pushed each other to a place where neither one was using logic.
Do you ever have moments where you replay the events in your mind's cushy cinema, body slouched, eye's wide open, gazes focused on window panes, and time passes as if you'd been absent for a few hours? I do. And it was no different that day. The scuffle had reached my bedroom door and into my sacred space. I had separated them. I sat in my room replaying not the day's events but the life and love that we had shared. I cried. How did loving sweet brother who as a toddler had not wanted to raise a finger to me when I was wailing on him - so as not to be un-gentleman-like - become the angry brother who raised his fist to not only a woman, but mother?
Brother stormed out of the house, and mom went to her room. She'd always emerge after having lost her temper. And I want to be fair here. Rarely had she ever raised a hand to us. And that day might have been in self-defense only. Was brother the one who raised a fist first? Had she slapped his sarcastic, sharp mouth first? I don't know. I wasn't there at the beginning of the argument. I do know that she had only ever slapped my mouth once. Many were the days when she would scream in frustration at this or that. She'd retract into her room for a time of remorse and reflection and then emerge in tears apologizing. So scared that she'd become a product of how she was raised, she'd crumble into a sincere weeping mess, asking forgiveness. And we'd give it to her.
But this time was different. Something changed. Things were never the same again. Maybe brother just wouldn't forgive this time. For my mother who had suffered the abuse of dishes, hangers, fists, boards, or whatever else was around, maybe there's more forgiveness allotted. I like to think so. She was so rarely anything but loving and happy, except when she wasn't. ;) Who would have guessed she had such a trying past? I doubt the onlookers had a clue.
But we were meant to learn from it. I know we did, maybe we still are. But for teenagers, the learning doesn't come easily. Brother eventually came home. He was quiet. And quiet he's not. Our house was always boisterous, loud, exciting, game-filled, and fun. But somewhere during the years of 90 and 91, it faded for a while.
Brother had started his plan. He knew that I'd try to stop him. Or that I'd tattle. And maybe I would have... okay, probably would have.
And then it happened. Plans were no more - actions settled in. I don't even remember what month it was, but I think it was toward the end of the school year, 1991. I was nearly 16. Brother was 17. We had left in the morning like any other day. Separate schools, separate schedules, separate jobs, always just meeting somewhere in the middle for a meal, or maybe at the end of the day, but always just enjoying each other's company. It was before the day of cell phones. Well, not technically. But no one carried those big chunky things around except for businessmen on TV. It wasn't odd that we'd not seen each other after a long day of school, sports and work. It wasn't even odd for the three of us kids to go to sleep without big brother home. With no way to contact him at any given moment of the day, we always just awaited his arrival.
But at 3 O'clock in the morning when my door opened waking me from a deep sleep, I knew something was wrong.
Brother was gone.