My sister met a boy, thirty years ago. Eventually, he became my big brother. He gave me welcome, prized advice about paths I should take, who I should (and should NOT) date, where I should go to college, and what my strengths were. He saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself. I was too lost to see the path I should take. I was too confused about who I should date. I was too overwhelmed by too many things I wanted to do, to know where I should go. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to see any strengths that were there. He held out his hand, as my big brother, and I trusted the path he attempted to show me.
It happened to lead toward Ohio.
First job, first love, first heartbreak, first line dance lesson. I worked at a daycare, with babies whom I adored. I went to the community college to take some general classes with hopes of going to Ohio State University with in-state tuition the following year. I lived with my sister in my first home away from home. This is where the biggest lessons from my soon-to-be big brother happened. On the floor, working on college level Algebra, trying to find my way in the midst of my heartbreak. I can still hear his voice, so clear… “You have to dig deep down inside of you, find out what makes you tick, find out what drives you. Don’t stop there though. Reach deeper. Make sure it is something you’ll be happy doing for the rest of your life. Make sure it is something that will allow you to afford the things you love to do. Say to your current self, “self, where are we going? Self, what are we doing? Self, what do we like?”
He told me to keep my eyes closed, and to picture my current self walking toward my future self. He asked me if she looked happy. He asked me to hang out there for a while. He told me to get to know that future self before I came back.
I was inspired inside this journey. My eyes were open. I was ready to spring forward.
And then… my truck died.
And… I missed home.
I forgot about that inspired, future self.
I drove home on a road that crumbled beneath it. Shattered dreams, broken hopes, fading ambition. Whatever was left escaped, through the window that was cracked, all the way back. I should’ve turned around, headed back, as soon as I realized what was happening. As soon as I felt it leave me.
My new life back home, looking back 30 years later, was… empty. I had no direction, ambition, or sense of who I was. I took on jobs that I hated, went to college with no reason for being there, and floated through relationships with no feelings.
I made decisions that changed my life in that state. Despite my big brother’s advice at that time to “learn how to use your mind like your own individual light saber,” I made decisions based on false emotions.
When my big brother decided to end his relationship with my big sister last year, I felt like I had been stabbed in the heart. I was devastated, for my sister, and for myself. Those moments – the life lessons that escaped through that window on my way back home, the laughter, the memories – all flooded back to me. They were painful.
And then… they left.
Someone I never thought wouldn’t be there for me, wasn’t there for me anymore.
Today, I met his new girlfriend. I heard them talk about their new life. I saw him giving advice to her son.
I had to walk away. It was just too much.
I didn’t get far though. I bumped right into my sister. She asked me to go and talk to the new girlfriend.
WHAT?!? HOW?!? WHY?!?
“Please? Do it for the kids. She wants you to like her.”
At that moment, that seemingly impossible moment, I felt like I heard these words – “She is A PERSON.”
I smiled at her. I said something to her (I don’t even remember what I said), and… we started talking. Laughing even. Somehow, (with God’s help I believe), I saw her as a person.
Without realizing it, and without meaning to, my big brother taught me one last lesson.
No matter what happens in life, no matter which path you choose, it is up to you to listen to that inner voice, and to choose how you’ll see people.