I would be lying if I didn't acknowledge that my normally festive demeanor has been tempered this holiday season. I enjoyed baking cookies with the boys, wrapping presents and engaging in all of our other seasonal activities. Yet despite the smiles, laughter, and colorful sugars, my heart has been hurting. I miss my brother.
has been living in Austin for the past five years. I saw him two years
ago when I was helping to care for my Dad, and our reunion was
bittersweet. I miss him so much, yet the man that I was hugging had
little resemblance to the brother I knew and loved. Drug addiction is a
horrible scourge, slowly killing the person in the most agonizing and
Whenever I think about my brother my memories
inevitably drift back to a family day trip that we took to Philadelphia.
I remember being in the back seat of our light blue Chevy station
wagon, driving through the city and absorbing the sights and sounds of
the city. At a stoplight my dad directed our attention to somebody who
was disheveled, disoriented and filthy who was living on the streets.
"Take a look at that person. There is a new drug going around called
Crack. One puff and that is where you will end up. It is killing people
quickly. Don't ever try it kids, remember that person and know that
somewhere they made the choice to try drugs just one time. One time is
all it will take."
I remember this lecture so vividly because
it made such a strong impression on me. Coming from a safe suburban
neighborhood, simply seeing a homeless individual was shocking. Having
my Dad so poignantly tie drug to the visual made a lasting impact. That
moment sparked my lifetime fear of elicit drug use.
whatever reason, the lecture did not hold the same weight with my
brother. His foray into the abyss of drug use started young. Since his
late teens he has been raging against a cyclone of addiction. His years
are marked by stints in various rehabilitation centers, months of
sobriety and the return to the chemical demons that taunt him.
need to consume drugs will propel an individual to live a hellish
existence. While I was waking up Christmas morning with my two boys
excited to see what Santa left, my brother was wandering the streets. He
has become the symbol that my Dad etched in my mind so many years ago. I
miss my brother dearly. Although he is still alive, the person that I
know and love has been gone for awhile. I hope and pray that he will
right his path, seek sobriety and come back to us.
meantime, I'm going to keep hugging my boys while I tell them funny
stories of the Uncle they don't know. A few days ago I sat down Robby
and explained to him what happened to my brother. Robby is now ten years
old, and while he is still my baby boy I know that the next few years
he will be faced with temptations. I want him to know what doing drugs
does not only to the individual, but to everybody who loves them. He
watched me cry as I explained how his Uncle is struggling because of his
addiction. He has seen me worried, fretting and anxious about my
brother's safety. Maybe witnessing the real-life impact of loving a drug
seeker will be the reminder that he needs to avoid the dreaded "just