Sunday, May 04, 2008

Understanding

I have been struggling with whether or not I should post this. I wrote a paper for my Comp I class last semester about a very traumatic event in my life. While writing this paper I found it to be very therapeutic. It helped me immensely to get some feelings out on paper, so I thought that it might also help to share this experience so others could understand some of why I am the way that I am. Let me give a little background: My brother and I never had a very good relationship, it was very physically and emotionally violent. We never had a "normal relationship"and I never thought that we ever would. One day, April 15, 1999, Jonathon was in a fatal car accident and my life changed forever........

Absolution

As his hands clamped around my throat like a vice, darkness encapsulated the room. Just before the room turned completely black, one person from the crowd came to rescue me from a bleak uncertainty. As she struck the back of his head he loosened his grip enough for me to escape. I fell to the floor gasping for air, wishing that I could run so far away that this moment would be lost in a blur of memories. He stormed out of the house leaving me there with my rescuer bent by my side.
I hadn’t seen my brother, Jonathan, for two months. Then one spring day, there he was knocking at my door. He was wearing blue jeans with a t-shirt and looked quite disheveled. He seemed taller to me, his hair was messy and he had circles around his eyes. His face was worn and tired. He asked me to forgive him, said it would never happen again. Like so many times before, I did.
Jonathan had many problems in the past. In my opinion, many of his tribulations stemmed from a traumatic incident that happened to him when he was about 11 years old. He was severely burned by a jumping-jack firecracker that was shoved into his flannel shirt pocket by a so-called friend of his. He also had a butane lighter in that pocket which resulted in an explosion on his chest. The end result was a lot of time spent in the hospital with many skin grafts and a young boy’s unknown rage. That young boy turned into a man who on countless occasions took out his misplaced anger on his little sister, me.
It was a cool crisp September night. The air wrapped around me like a sweater cozying up next to my skin. I lived in a small apartment above my parents. I had gone downstairs to see Jonathan because I noticed that his car was in the driveway. I walked down my stairs, through the breezeway, then up the five steps to get into my parents apartment. As I walked in I left the door to the breezeway open. There were cupboards right in front of me and a refrigerator immediately to my right. I saw my brother’s friend Jason. He said that Jonathan was drunk and acting crazy.
I knew this was bad news, so I tried to get out of the line of fire as quickly as possible. As I went to go back to my apartment, Jonathan stormed in the outside door. As he barreled in he was yelling. I couldn’t understand his words. I just knew that I needed to escape the situation. I tried to inch my way out the door telling him, “It’s ok, just calm down,” but he seemed to be closing in. I needed to get out without making him feel threatened. I knew his temper and it terrified me! Next thing I saw was Jonathan leaping up all five steps and heading straight for me. I didn’t have enough time to react and there wasn’t enough space to move out of the way. He slammed my head into the cupboards behind me. I felt myself falling and my head was spinning, everything was going dark. Once I realized I was sitting on the floor, I tried to make my way to my feet and unsteadily get to the phone in the next room. I started screaming,
“I’m calling the police! I’ve had enough of this and can’t take it anymore! I’ve been dealing with this crap almost my whole life and I’m not going to end up dead because you can’t control your anger!”
The police arrived in only a few minutes. He begged me not to do this! Suddenly, he swung his fist and hit the police officer square in his jaw. The officers wrestled him to the ground and cuffed him like a common criminal. I had tears pouring down my face and I wasn’t sure that I did the right thing; after all he is my brother. He was erratic, and in a strident voice pleaded, “Amy, don’t do this!” There was nothing I could do now, he hit the police officer. I couldn’t change my mind if I wanted to.
After that night he had to appear in court. The Judge wanted to hear what I thought his punishment should include, but he didn’t want to make me face him. Instead, he had me write a detailed letter to him explaining the punishment that I would like to see happen. My letter requested him to be remanded for a period of time along with alcohol and drug rehabilitation. I also stated that I love my brother, but could no longer put my life in jeopardy. Therefore, I suggested he be required to attend anger management classes. The Judge put what is known as a PPO (Personal Protection Order) in place for one year. He also ordered Jonathan to attend counseling for the alcohol and anger management.
Six months later I made a phone call to my mother, but my brother answered the phone instead. He was right down stairs. He wasn’t supposed to be there. I said nothing, yet he knew that it was me. I felt compelled to answer him, asking, “What are you doing here?” He replied with an apology, like before, but then there was something else. He went on to say that he missed having a sister, he had taken me for granted, and wanted to talk. I should have hung up the phone. Instead, I replied saying, “I miss the brother that I wish you could be. I cannot be around the brother that I have.” I went on to tell him that I would not live in fear of his very next rage episode. He assured me that he was working on changing and wanted me to give him one more chance.
We had one great month of an amazing brother-sister relationship. We were becoming friends, a relationship that I thought was impossible. Then, the unthinkable happened. I woke up to something not feeling right. I looked out the window and there it was, a police car in the driveway. I rushed down the stairs, barged in the door, and there he stood with a grim look on his face. A man in dress blue’s that were neatly pressed with a badge that shined brightly on his chest. I stared at him as if I had never seen a police officer before. When I realized who he was I rushed past him to my mother’s side, where my father also stood, desperate to find out what was going on. She was sobbing uncontrollably, and then she said it. As she said the words it felt as though I had been hit with a ton of bricks. I was trying to comprehend the words that she was mouthing, but I didn’t understand them. “He’s dead, Amy. It’s Jonathan, there was a car accident, and now he’s dead.”
“This is a mistake! You don’t know my brother! You don’t know us! YOU’RE WRONG!” I exclaimed.
My father caught me as I started spinning out of control. He wrapped his arms around me and held me until I calmed down. I knew the truth.How does someone process this? How do I cope? How do I cope with the love, the loss, the sorrow? I coped through the forgiveness, the forgiveness that occurred before the end of his life. I had the opportunity not many people get; the chance to receive a seemingly unattainable relationship with my brother, before he died.

1 comment:

Jer & Liz Nyenhuis said...

WOW, Amy!!! From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing that with me/us/the world. That took a *lot* of courage, but I commend you in being able to forgive your brother. What a wonderful testimony to the forgiveness and love that God has for His children.