Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Shine a Light...

His little brother tried to kill himself...just one week before school.  He tried and very nearly managed it. His father and step-mother found him.  He had no vital signs when his father pulled him to the floor and began chest compressions through hot tears while his mother called for help, her hands shaking.  Her heart broken into a billion pieces.  His brother received the phone call at a friends.  "Your brother hung himself," came the words, but understanding...comprehension came much later.  He would be air-lifted to a distant hospital, and it would be days of cooling the body and feeding tubes and oxygen before they even understood the extent of the brain damage.  He was 15 and his girlfriend had just broken up with him.

I spent that first day of school with his brother, and no matter how many times it happens, or how many times that I find myself requested, or placed with a brother or sister, it's well beyond difficult.  Somehow we always manage laughs, and of course there are lumps in throats and tears, but mostly there are piles of perspective...great, giant, heaping piles, and somehow I find the words, although I never know from where.

There was good news.  The boy was going to make a full recovery, though no one knows quite how.  He had been without oxygen for God knows how long.  He had died.  He has no memory of the event, the reasons, or anything leading up to the most definitive moment of his young life.  His brother, however, has many.  His brother may never recover.  He is the girl, at his brother, at the his school, and his everyone, except it seems, me.  That's no small thing.  It's one of the more valuable things I know I have.   He asked me what to he could stop feeling the things that he was feeling, and all I could think of was how he could become special...of him being the best person he could somehow manage, and in doing things the right way so that someday he could say, "look what you gave me Universe and look what I did with it."  It's all I could think of, and somehow it worked.

We talked about it all afternoon.  What did I mean?  How do you do something like that?  Why?  And it struck me that it's the only thing that we have.  How could it be such a secret?  I told him that it was the only thing that got me through when things had collapsed in on me in my life.  When I made note of the time lost and the thickness of the fog, and the sound of life on the other side of it...when I started being responsible for myself and got busy making a life that I could be proud of, things got better.  Now it's all I can think about.  How do I do this right?  What's the hard thing to do? Okay, then that's what I want to do.  What's the right way to do it?  How do I manage this in a way that will make me bigger and better?  How do I tune out all of the messages, and everyone's agendas?  We talked about all of that, and he bought it.  It wasn't a line, so it was an easy catch and release, but I don't know where it came from.

He won't forget what has just happened, and you'd be foolish to think that a part of him is not lost now, forever...but he can do something about himself.  He can look up to the stars and whisper, "not me, you won't make me run and hide."  He can start living in a way that can be an example for anyone who ever thought that maybe life is an easy thing to give up.  It's not.  It's perspective that is lacking in those awful moments, and what if he could give some?

After hours upon hours we shook hands, he said thanks, then he turned to walk away before stopping, turning back, and extending a long hug.  "Thanks," he said, "I'm glad you were here," and I nearly crumbled.  Now it was me who wouldn't recover.  Nothing about me is the same as it was before yesterday.  Yesterday a young man sat in the darkest of rooms and could not find his way out.  All I did was shine a light toward the switch on the wall in that black and empty room, that's all.  He reached out and flipped it.  Maybe, I thought,  no one had ever shown his brother where the switch was.  It's not an easy thing to give up on this life, even harder so when someone is there to show you just what it is to live.  It's impossible once someone shines a light.


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