I had recently posted about a time of reflection. Even though I mentioned that I normally think deeply around this time of year, it does not mean that I am without pockets of solace on a normal basis. When I am waking up early in the morning, or driving in the car, or running, or walking to a destination….I often think of him. I think about my brother.
My brother, Ryan, suffers from Addison’s Disease, an auto-immune disease that causes the body to shut down if not detected in time. It was never detected in time. For many years I thought of the events that led him to his fate, and I would always cry. I would ask myself, what could I have done? How could I have helped, differently, to make it all better? An older sister’s guilt will do that, you know. I would then wander down the never-ending dark passageways, in my mind, with the “what-ifs” and the “should-ofs” at my feet. Every time I made this journey, I would have no success of an outcome. But after I was finished, I would start the process all over again.
One of the last memories of my brother and I, before his health declined, was of us walking together on his birthday. Our arms wrapped around our necks while we talked of simple things. We laughed and skipped…how badly I want that back again.
This past weekend the family went to see Ryan for his birthday. I wanted to walk with him again. We had done it last year as a last minute decision, in the dark, and although it was a nice change from the norm of us sitting around his bedside to watch him sleep, I wanted to do it as more of the highlight of the evening this year. So when we all arrived at the nursing home, we asked the aides to get my brother’s wheel chair ready.
We then took him out into the facility courtyard and had our little birthday gathering with Ryan, right by our sides. It was then time to take a family walk.
The walk revealed some wonderful moments that I have not seen for some time. I got to witness my mother’s hand on Ryan’s back. I got to see Ryan’s eyes droop and dose due to the wind on his face. I noticed the slow and casual strides our family took, while walking, but the greatest observation of all was of my son wanting to be right with his uncle the whole time. He walked right beside Ryan. He pushed Ryan’s chair. He talked and smiled with Ryan. I told you before, I have a lot to learn from him.
The family made several more passes around the parking lot before heading back in. I don’t think any of us wanted this walk to end, for it was a walk we rarely get to do anymore – a walk that included all of us.