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When Missing Your Brother Is Intensely Painful

It’ll be ten years this September that my brother was arrested for murder. He had been off his medication for awhile and was in a psychotic state of mind when the crime took place. (He has Schizophrenia with a mood disorder.) I’ll never forget that morning. In some ways it feels like just yesterday and in other ways it feels like a lifetime ago. When I look back on photos of he and I when he was free I think, wow – it’s been so long since I’ve hugged my brother in freedom! We’ve both grown up a lot in ten years and our bodies and faces show the proof of that growing. We’re no longer youngsters starting out their lives.

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I miss him so much, it’s always just right under the surface. When talking about missing him to my mother-in-law, I cried. It just came out. And when I saw my sister-in-law together with her brother yesterday, it hit me like a brick. Bam! Right to the heart. I miss my brother. I miss the easy way we have together. I miss the bond and memories of a life long friend in your sibling. I miss being able to be around someone I can be completely myself and not feel judged or just not like I totally fit in. I miss being silly with him, laughing so hard my belly hurts, hugging him often and not every so often when I can make it to see him… and for more than the few seconds they allow. I miss feeling safe with my towering brother. I know, it may sound weird that someone who committed such a terrible crime could make me feel safe, but I always did, and always will. I miss so much. Mostly, I miss his freedom. I long for that for him. But I know he won’t find freedom on this side of heaven. And it hurts. So terribly bad. So awfully bad.

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I will love him until my dying day. I will miss him until then too. I will wish things were different for him every single day of my life. I will pray for him until my time has come to leave this earth and move onto heaven. I will support him in the ways I can until I can’t anymore. I will be proud of him in how he’s managed prison for so long. I will worry for his safety. I will be his best friend. He will always be my baby brother no matter how old he gets. And as he reminds me, I will turn 40 first and 50 first and always be the oldest. I will pray and hope and yearn for his relationship to mend with Father God. I’ll always hold onto all the great memories I have of he and I and my mom and even my husband and firstborn (he only had a relationship with my oldest before going to prison) forever.

I will never ever be ashamed of him. He is mentally ill. He made a mistake going off his medication. He made a mistake taking a life. He sinned. We all make mistakes. We all sin. His sin was big and bad and I never make light of that. I’ve mourned and grieved the loss of the friend who lost his life. I’m so sorry for his family. I’ll never forget him or his magical smile. But, I’m also a Christian who has embraced radical grace and know that God has forgiven my brother and I have too. God has also forgiven me of my sins. We all sin. I will not be ashamed of my brother. He is my blood and he made a terrible mistake. To which he is forgiven and set free from.

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If you have a sibling, hold them extra tight next time you hug. Talk often. Laugh even more. Give them your heart and accept their heart to you. Let them know how much they mean to you. Forgive their mistakes and ask forgiveness from them if you’ve hurt them. Accept God’s grace and give God’s grace. And please never take for granted that they are around because we just never know when they won’t be around in our daily lives again.

I miss you baby cakes. I’ll always miss you until my dying day.

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