Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Callings in life.

These are just some of the adjectives that described how I felt the moment my brother Chad, turned the corner as he entered the room --separated by glass-- as my dad and I sat there waiting to see him. I don't know about my dad but I was nearly crawling out of my skin waiting for him to arrive. And when he did, my breath was taken right from me. WOWWWZA!
The difference is BEYOND night and day. Unbelievable!!! I wanted so badly too ask the guard if I could somehow take a picture of my brother, but that is a BIG no no. His transformation is incredible. It is the very best Chad has looked in NINE years. It was almost as if he has been reborn. He looked better Sunday than he did the day he graduated from high school. If I could show a picture of him on Sunday morning and compare it to the pictures of him shown through the media, I swear you would second guess yourself. There is NO comparison what-so-ever, but Chad would make the perfect poster child for a before and after drug abuse campaign.
His head was completely bald. He bic's it all the way down so he doesn't have to deal with the whole "hair" thing. His face has been kissed by the sun just a tad. He isn't gray or pale anymore, the look of death is what I mean. He has a glow to his skin. His eyes have LIFE in them. They are not completely dilated and dark. His skin is smooth. All in all, he is maintained. He is my brother once again. The Chad I remember from years ago, before his drug addiction dismantled his life.
We were able to visit for an hour and a half. So worth the drive. SO WORTH IT! He is doing better than I ever believed he could do. He smiled bigger than I have seen him smile in years. They were sincere smiles, not the pretend smiles he would give to make you believe he was ok when he really wasn't. He is taking college classes, reading, working out, and seeing his case worker. He is taking his medication daily and making it through without struggle. He is finally living!!!!
Chad's darkest hours I firmly believe are behind him, once and for all. He is no longer struggling to make it day by day on the outside. He is no longer struggling to stay sober. He is no longer deteriorating from drug rot. He is no longer slowly taking his own life with spoons and balloons. It is the craziest thing for me to grapple but it's true, Chad is better in prison than he is home with me, or anybody else. Chad is home. He is in a structured environment where he is in so much more control of himself and his life. He is no longer a danger to himself or anybody else. It seems as though he has finally found his place, his calling in life.
We all have callings. Some we miss, others we ride to the fullest. How odd must it sound to hear that Chad's calling in life may very well be in a prison system where he will be for the rest of his life? But I believe that Chad will be far more productive, more motivated and respect himself more where he is than he would or ever could on the outside of the barriers that surround him.
He is "ok" where he is. He is "ok" with his life now. It's unrecognizable for me but it's the same for Chad looking at us and our lives. He can't recognize it, he can't do it. I remember one morning driving him to work. Chad burst into tears and said "how do you do it? Why do you do it sis? How do you go through everyday doing what you do?" I gave him my reasons, my boys. Chad has no kids so he couldn't relate but it was very clear (frustrating too) that what I do everyday, which seems so simple because it's habit, is much too far out of his reach to do and do so with a clear mind.
Anybody can take it as him making excuses and that's ok. I did too. But after the many years of going through this with him, I know Chad. And for those that don't know him, they don't know, let alone understand his mentality. I struggle with it too but it is what it is. Chad is who he is. Many people can make it with "life", many people can't, and Chad is one who can't.
Chad's drug addiction took a very hard toll on us all. It was a very long nine years of destruction. Many tears, many disagreements, many fights.....many nights awake wondering where he was. Many times when I wished he would have just died. But he didn't. He is alive, he is happy and he is FUNCTIONING. He is clean, he is sober and he is the Chad I didn't believe could ever exist again.
He will have to live with what he has done for the rest of his life, like the rest of us. But I have no reason nor any right to persecute him for what he's done. That is between him and God. One of the Ten Commandments reads, thou shall not kill. Chad committed a heinous crime, but I believe we have a very loving Heavenly Father who will be open to see the whole situation at hand as far as Chad goes. The very good he was and the very bad he was. I believe Chad can and will be forgiven. I pray always for that but it's not it my hands. Chad must ask for forgiveness in his own way.
Many people break the commandments. They steal, they commit adultery, they don't honor their parents or whatever they may break. I am not innocent by any means. But if you believe, if you have faith, and if you ask for forgiveness, I believe it can happen. I believe that you can make it to heaven after you have committed the very worst of the worst.
I left with great comfort after my visit with my brother. I truly know, without questioning anything, that Chad is fine. And while I still ache over the circumstances I wasn't able to change then or can change now, it's time for ME too just go with it and be happy that my brother may now be doing what he is supposed to be doing...living his calling in life!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Check, Check, Check Check

This weekend I will be seeing Chad for the very first time since November 2010. Excited is an understatement. I'm so anxious to visit with him and see for myself how "good" he really is doing. He called me last Sunday. I was in the middle of putting shish-ka-bobs together when his ring tone went off. And damn it, my phone being the fancy touch screen phone that I SOOOO had to have, got stuck when I tried to accept his call and rather than accepting the call, it ENDED the call! FOR THE LOVE OF.......!!!!! But 5 minutes later, Chad called back and my fingers and touch screen went hand in hand, like they should have the first time.

He is doing really well. He is enrolled in a couple of college classes and will be taking more as they become available. He does a lot of reading and goes into the yard. They aren't allowed to do "nothing". They have to be busy and productive and that is something that helps Chad tremendously with his time. It makes it go by fast he says. It's amazing to hear from him. It's so relieving as well.

I have said before how confused I am when I hear his voice and hear how happy he is. It's SO difficult for me to comprehend just like it was so hard for him to comprehend living on the outside. Then the light bulb went on. Duh Mindy, he sounds SO good because his mind and body are dry from heroin. He isn't self-destructing. He isn't destroying himself bit by bit, or should I say hit by hit?. He is clean, he is sober, he is free from his drug addiction. There are two very different Chad's. The sober Chad vs. the high Chad. The person he is now, is the brother I can relate too. All because of two words, drug free!

And here I am, in my kitchen, hearing the happiness in our conversation and thinking to myself how "her name"'s family can NEVER do this again. If they read my words they would probably be furious that I dare speak of the happiness I have when I talk to my brother or read his letters or how excited I am that I get to see him. They will NEVER be able to do this with her again. They can visit her, but it's at a cemetery. They can speak to her, through the air. They will never have the opportunities with her that I have with Chad because she is gone. Chad still walks, breathes and most of all, he lives, even though he lives in prison. She does not. So I feel so selfish for being happy to hear his voice. I feel as if it is the ULTIMATE betrayal to a family I know nothing about except that my brother took one of theirs. But he is my brother and I still love him unconditionally. I would totally understand their animosity, anger and hurt knowing that what I can do with him (while limited), they can't do with "her name".............because of Chad.

So I will be hitting the road for what will be my first ever visit to a prison and I'm not afraid. This is my life and it's something I must do and even if I were afraid, I'd have to get over that pretty quick. I have a lot of visiting to do in a building made of cinder block walls, fences with razor wire, and guard towers not to mention guards with loaded guns and rattling equipment they carry on themselves.. Check-list for my visit:

All 5 earrings OUT---check
Belly button ring OUT---check
Wireless bra ON---check, check
I don't recall tattoos sounding off security alarms, and I don't think mine contain any type of metal, I sure in the hell hope they don't, so I think I might just make it through.
The best part of it all will be making the trip with my dad. Oh what a man he is and I hope he knows how much his oldest daughter, being me, loves him and does so with all her heart. These are not necessarily the memories you want to make with loved ones, memories of this magnitude, but it's where we are in this thing we call life and like everything else, I'm going to ride with it and take it all in the very best I can.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A letter to heaven.

Dear God;

There is an angel up there in the heavens with you. She was delivered to you on or about September 29th, 2010. You and I both know how she entered through the thrones of heaven and I ask that you deliver this letter to her.

"Her name",
Hi, this is Mindy. I'm Chad's oldest sister. I never had the chance to meet you but I would like to say some things to you. First of all I must start by saying thank you. Thank you for taking my brother Chad in December of 2008, the month I pushed him out because I had finally confirmed his relapse when I found his needles, my spoons and the blood stained gauze from the holes in his arms. I regretfully gave up and had enough and you opened your home to him. You, being the sweet soul you were, took my drug addicted brother into your home and provided a safety net for him. You attempted to help him although he was so unwilling to help himself. At that point I don't think he was capable of helping himself. He was so far gone.
Second of all, I am so sorry!!! I know that must sound so simple considering the circumstances that took your life. I don't know what else to say or how to say it in a way that you and your family could understand the true sincerity of those words. Our families, yours and mine, have been devastated by this tragic and unnecessary event and I'm slowly trying to sew my heart back together, thread by thread.
I don't know what happened at that moment when your life became entangled at the hands of Chad. I don't want to know. It's enough knowing what I do know and it's all I can take. I do know however, that you didn't deserve this. While I can only imagine how heavenly your place of residence is, I know your family would much rather have you here with them. Your father and brother said such sweet words about you. Even my dad who had the honor of meeting you while you both awaited at the jail to see Chad, said what a very nice woman you were and how much you cared for Chad. -Once again, thank you.
This is not the right thing to wish or say, but I'd rather it have been me than you. My family had already been through a number of heartbreaking years with Chad and his addiction. It should have been kept within the family and not included another. Another's life should not have been taken, your life should not have been taken. Nobody else should have or deserved to suffer!
While you and I didn't know each other personally, I hope you know I think of you as well as your family all the time. I drive past the building everyday where you and Chad were employed and the reason you two met. It's eery but I am getting used to it. Knowing that two people, both gone, once worked right there. Your footsteps walked those floors, your breath filled the air and you two were very like by all who knew you there.
I hope to one day get involved with groups, families, and children regarding drug addiction and the horror it leaves behind. I don't want you to have died in vain. We did everything we could possibly do to help Chad. Once he relapsed, his addiction spiraled out of control and all we could do was hold our breath.
The phone call I had long awaited for was not the phone call I expected to get. Never did I imagine or once think my brother would do a life sentence in prison for taking a life. NEVER. I was mortified, shattered, and absolutely devastated. I STILL have trouble believing it. It just shouldn't have happened and I know in my heart my brother wouldn't have ever done something so brutal had he not taken the path of life he followed for so many years.
Chad is paying the price for the years of drug abuse that ultimately led to him snap. He is where he should be and you are not. But it is what it is and there is nothing that can change where our two families are today although if given the chance, I would change it all in the blink of an eye.
I hope you are using your wings to comfort your loved ones. There's nothing more soothing than knowing sombody in heaven is watching over you. Angel kisses are the best.
A new season is approaching, thankfully. The time when new life unveils itself through the flowers, the trees and all else that blooms in spring and through summer. The bee's and dragonflies will soon be buzzing all over my yard. I know you will be part of that because all good things come from heaven.
Love from a stranger,

Thursday, February 10, 2011


That's how I feel today. It's how I've felt the last couple of weeks. Just blah. I have so many things to get done, so many tasks to do, so many "I need to do this and I want to do that's" but I have no "umph" to get to any of them. I just feel like one big sludgy puddle of mud. I'm sure it has a great deal to do with the cold weather and I'm so over it already. It's time to take on another season...spring. Yes spring, that will put some bounce back in my steps, I'm sure of it.

I haven't spoken with Chad again since the afternoon of January 27th. I dropped a letter in the mailbox last Friday and hope I get a letter sometime this week. Good news is though......I am heading his way in two weeks to visit him. I actually get to see him, in his flesh, for the first time since November of last year when he stood in front of the judge, admitted his guilt to his crime and we all listened as he was sentenced to his fate. I'm sure my visitation will be a much needed remedy for my melancholy.

It's been 5 months since all hell broke loose. Five very short months when you really think about it. Three months since he was sentenced. Two weeks since he's been transferred. The realization of it all I still struggle with. It's SO unbelievable to comprehend Chad....prison, Chad....life sentence, Chad....and what he did. I sometimes just shake my head because I still am overwhelmed and SO mind boggled over the fact that it's true. I'm confused when I hear the happiness in his voice. I haven't heard Chad so happy in a number of years and yet he's serving a life sentence for a homicide. He's in prison but he's doing "good". Believe me, I'm given great relief to hear the "up" in his voice, I would be scared to death if I heard anything different but it's strange. How can prison make anybody sound happy?

I laid in bed the other night and was immediately thinking of Chad's foot steps. Memories that triggered my mind out of the complete blue. Chad was a HEAVY walker and as I laid my head on my pillow, I could hear his footsteps through my head. While at times it was annoying at how heavy of a walker he was, I would trade where we are today to hear him walk once again.

Him being gone has taken a chunk from my heart. I miss my brother so much!! There is no other way to describe it, I just miss him. I miss the Chad before these drugs ruined his life, I miss the Chad when he was clean from his addiction, I even miss seeing my brother on the couch sound asleep full well knowing he was in a high that I couldn't even come close to relate too. He was there, in my presence. I could see, hear and feel him breathing. I could brisk his hair with my fingers...rub my hand on his arm.

Still haven't put his belongings together. The door is still closed. I go in there as little as possible because his clothes are still on the floor, his shoes are still in the closet. It bugs me to know those are my brothers clothes. They are empty assortments of shirts, pants, socks, jackets, hats and everything else he owned that I can see him wearing. I know it's getting time for me to pull myself together and do what I need to do but I just haven't made it there yet. All that is Chad, is in that room. It's all that is left that I have of Chad and I can't let go.

There is one thing that's for sure. Yes I'm in a funk right now and everything is just there. BLAH!!! But it doesn't stop me from thinking of all the wonderful Chad was. It doesn't stop me from remembering all the shit I've traveled through with him because of his drug addiction. It doesn't stop me from hoping "her name" is safely in heaven pouring her radiant spirit over her family. I have good memories, I have awful memories but they are exactly what they are, memories and gratefully, NOBODY can take those away from me.