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The Tale of Two Brothers

October 25, 2011

It was all good more than a decade ago...


In my first activism class, a student talked about missing the void of her sister who is now lost in her own world. I was reminded of my own brother. Last year, I was planning to write a speech about my brother and myself for the Beat the Odds 2010 award dinner. I wanted to write about how united we once were and how we drifted apart.

My younger brother and I were two peas in a pod. We hung out together outside. We played together outside. We played video games together. We played card games together. Since our parents weren’t invested in our lives, all we had was each other. I comforted him when my father fought my mom. I took him places to get his mind off the drama at home. Most of my youth, I was with him. I led by example by doing well in school. I lectured him on how education was his way out.

Once our sister grew up, I thought my brother would step up as I did for him. I thought he would led by example. Just before I went away to college, I started to see him fall apart. He went into high school with girls on his mind, not looking for a way out. He wouldn’t spend time with his sister. He would always kick her out of his room. He started to do horrible in school. My parents would call me to get me to talk to him about his academics and disrespectful behavior at home.

It got to the point where I said what I thought I would never say. I told him, “I’m not going waste my breath with you if you’re not even going to try.” I was sick of talking to him about his disregard for himself and others. I was sick of telling him how he was heading towards the road of our father. He was sick of me lecturing him. I learned that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. I proceeded to tell him, “There are other young people out there who aren’t going to waste my breath, my time.” I didn’t close the door fully on him though. I told him, “When you’re ready to be helped, when you’re ready to hear me speak, I will always be here for you.”

My brother thought life was easy. He thought he could just get a job, move out and provide for himself. He told me this. In what seemed like a final appeal without his asking, I tried to explain how it wasn’t that simple. That appeal just fell on deaf ears.

He didn’t finish high school when he only had a few classes left. He lives with my father. He is unemployed. He lies to and steals from family members. Barely anyone would talk to him, let alone trust him. He got in trouble with the Law a few times over silliness on his part. My sister, who has her own issues, thinks he’s a joke. How can you comfort someone when you don’t even have your own stuff together and refuse to do so?

Sometimes I wonder what made him be this way. Sometimes I wonder why he refuses to better himself despite facing the realities of his current home life. Why doesn’t he want to be a positive example for his sister in her time of need? Why does when it seem like there is light in the lamp, it ends up being my eyes playing tricks on me? I cry when I ponder these things.

It hurts me that we rarely talk now. It hurts me that he chooses to suffer on the side of the road rather than take a ride in my car to empowerment. It’s not too late for him. He’s only 19. I still have hope for him. I still pray for him. If there’s one thing I learned these past few years, it is that for some, experience is the best teacher. I pray that the Lord brings my brother his rude awakening. I pray that the Lord shows him the way off the side of the road.

I believe in him. The banner for this blog was created by him. I see promise in my brother. The fire is in him, deep in him. I’ve seen it. He’s a very smart kid. He could be more successful than I ever will be. But I think he isn’t sure that is possible. If there is one thing he can be sure of, it is that I will be there for him when he wants to make a positive change.

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One comment

  1. […] first half of my intro essay to my upcoming book with my mentee Different Families, Still Brothers. Some of this essay contains elements from an earlier essay I wrote. Get more information about the book here. It will be out next week! To go along with the release of […]



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