FLOORED! AMAZED!!! SHOCKED!!!!!!!!! RELIEVED!!! ECSTATIC!!!!ASTONISHED! SPEECHLESS!!!!!
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!