Time; we are run by it, organized through it, sometimes slave to it and changed in it. It’s been a month since I sat at this kitchen table. Much has happened. As I’ve unloaded the suitcases and bins to put away and recognize what we’ve come home with, I find myself doing the same with the contents of my heart. It’s time to measure this month. I’ve spent the past month away from my current home and traveled ‘home’. Simply saying that I am leaving home to go home is a complicated issue anyone who moves every two years understands. That’s the problem when ‘home is where the heart is’.
My home is where my heart is. My heart is scattered all over in the form of memories, belongings, and soul-shapings. I’d wager that yours is too. My heart was growing a bit faint here. The three men I love most dearly and I packed up the van and headed to Texas, where a heart can be truly blessed- even multiple times a day by strangers in the supermarket.
The day before we left I was packing up and confirming appointments when I received a phone call. My younger brother had been in an roll-over accident and might be facing serious brain damage or injury. It would take days to see the full impact. My brother and I have had a firey and wild relationship, but I see much of his face when I look at my 3 year old. Although he is a grown man bearing the marks of his choices now, I can still see the 7 year old version of him inside the car when I see this:
He was discharged from the hospital that night, declared to be “a walking miracle”. We left that night and drove straight through. Within 48 hours my sister and grandparents were all making the house into a home that was brimming with emotion. How to deal? Literally. We dealt the cards for some Hand and Foot.
When Death and Destruction occur before Hope happens, the loss is even more searing. We grieve for What Is as much as What Could Have Been. That searing, gut wrenching drop in the stomach that leaves you breathless sometimes keeps us from finding words– and shouldn’t.
I stood over him as he sat on his blue bedspread and carefully covered his bleeding and skinned head with gauze. He always said I was the ‘perfect older sister’ who stole the attention and set the standard too high, thereby ruining his life. In that poignant moment, maybe I believed I shared the responsibility. Finished, he slid his Chicago Bulls hat from the 3-Peat over his head. I whispered, “I love you.” He said he loved me too and we hugged. He made a joke about sudden balding before thirty. We laughed and I showed him my hard-earned white hair.
Pain tells us we are still alive. Laughter proves it.
I am still not sure about the condition of his eternal soul, happiness or purpose.
Sometimes just being there and loving someone despite the circumstances is enough. That is when the truth speaks the loudest.
For the next three weeks family did that for my family. There were no evaluations. There was play time. There were pillow fights and discovering pulled-pork slider sandwiches. There were date nights. There was time with friends and precious conversations while leaning over the kitchen counter.
Halfway through the trip we came home from a great Sunday morning at church. My mother commented that the boys were joyful. I realized that it had been two weeks since anyone had made a comment about Down Syndrome, delayed speech, or manners.
Sometimes we need people to dress our wounds without mentioning them.
So how to measure a month?
We measure it in life.
My brother has been recovering, working, and living ‘One Day At A Time’ for 32 days.
A new baby will be born into the family in January. My sister’s beautiful belly is growing, perfectly rounded.
Meals together…and coffee with Grandpa.
16 mornings on the porch
Dozens of pillow fights
Four new molars
Lots of tractor rides
HOURS of potty training
Black eyes and great memories
Thousands of giggles and belly laughs
Hundreds of new milestones to celebrate
Perhaps most importantly, just appreciation of life and the little things.