Recently a friend of mine, a new friend of mine, lost her brother. He was in his forties and he died of cancer. Unfortunately, she was here and he was on the other side of the country and he died before she could get there to say goodbye. It got me thinking about my brother. I am the middle child of three and I have a little brother. His birth name is Michael Bennett Slocum Jr. but he goes by about a thousand nicknames including but not limited too Bud, Junior, Little Mike, Little Daddy, Frog, Minnesota and Mike.
On a typical day I refer to my brother as Mike or Bud. So for this blog we will call him Mike. Mike is 33 years old, he lives with my mom and dad, he works for Delta Meter which is a family owned business, he loves to drink, smoke, gamble, play cards and watch football. So as you can see we have very little in common at this point in our lives. From that I imagine you would gather that we talk every now and then and that we are not very close. You are wrong.
When I in college I went home to visit. To give you a little bit of background about me, I don't have a very good memory. I don't remember much about being a kid or even a teenager. I remember traumatic events such as my heel cord extension when I was 18 months. I remember births and deaths and I remember trips or vacations. Other than that it is like everything before Doc is a blur. So for me to remember this night would make it either really exciting or really traumatic.
So anyway, I went home to visit and my brother was out that night. This was during the time of pagers. Yes, I know, I am dating myself. Look folks, I will be 36 next month and I cannot do a thing about it so what the heck right?! I digress, Mike had a pager but he was AWFUL about returning calls. Unless, and this is a big unless, unless I paged him. You see at this point in our lives we had a lot in common. We were both in school, we loved football, beer and bars and spent a lot of time together watching football, drinking beer and going to bars. I would venture to say he was my very best friend at the time and I was his which explains the "unless". So Mike was out and I paged him to see when he was coming home but he did not call me back. So, I paged him again, and again, and again. Now if he usually ignored me I would have thought nothing of it and left it at one, maybe two pages. But since his track record was so good I went straight into panic mode. I remember it like it was last night! I just knew that something horrible had happened to my brother and for about an hour and a half, until his sorry butt got home, I laid up in that bedroom and cried wondering what I would do without him. When he finally got home I squeezed him and told him how happy I was to see him! NOT! I cussed his butt out and told him if he ever scared me like that again I would kill him myself! ;)
"The moral of my story? you ask. I love my brother. He is up there with Steph in my top five favorite people on the planet. To this day, even 250 miles away and worlds apart as far as lifestyle goes, I talk to him everyday. Sometimes more than once, sometimes more than twice. I thought about him a lot when my friend told us the news of her brother. I thought about the idea that one day he could be gone. I was relieved when I remembered that I had already put him on my list of people that I ask God to let out live me. (Yes, I have a list and honestly, it is getting longer and longer) I thought about how grateful I am to my parents for doing whatever it is that they did to raise he and my sister and I to love each other and need each other and to stay close no matter what life brought us. I thought about all of the other people I know who have brothers. Some that are close to them, some that are gone, some that were just never really there. I realized that my friend had a lost a piece of her. Someone that knew her for her entire life, someone that watched her grow up, that was there for all of the milestones, someone that knows exactly what she means when she says "Dad (or Mom) is driving me NUTS today!"
You see friends, you only get the brothers or sisters that God gives you. It's different than even a spouse. If you don't like your spouse you can always get another one. (Okay I get it but this is just for illustration!)
But you don't get to go pick another brother just as ( much as some of you would have liked) you didn't get to pick the one you've got! I believe that God was intentional with our siblings. And we as siblings have a responsibility to love them, support them, be there for them and put up with them no matter what. It doesn't matter if they are good or bad people. They are not ours to judge. God makes that clear when He tells us in Romans 14:10:
"You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat."
It doesn't even matter if we like them or they like us. We are stuck with the brothers that we get. Thankfully, mine is a gift to me. A big, exhausting, frustrating, mind boggling gift, but a gift none the less. ;) I realize that all brothers are not a gift, some probably feel more like a curse.
Gift or curse, just like the rest of us, our brothers only get so long on this earth. So we have a choice we can either love them just like they are and enjoy them as only siblings can or we can decide to turn away from them. I think about my friend who will bury her brother this week. I pray they left nothing unsaid between them. I am beyond grateful that if I lost Mike he would have no doubt how I felt about him or what he meant to me regardless of things that we have done or said over the last three decades. For that and his friendship and about a thousand other things about him I am once again humbled by my great God.
Today I am praying for brothers and sisters. I am praying for the relationships, for forgiveness, for love, for healing and for grace. I am praying for those relationships that the Lord intended for us as family. I am praying for you my friends. Praying that if you have a brother or sister that has somehow been lost in the chaos of life you will reconnect with them, tell them how much you miss them, make them laugh, and make right any wrongs. Fight for those relationships that have crumbled and strengthen those that are so important to you! Once again, I have been reminded by my sweet friend's loss that we don't get to pick when we say goodbye. Today I am praying for her and her family. Praying that the Lord will bring them peace and comfort in their loss. In addition to those prayers I am praising Him like crazy for another day with Mike who makes me laugh even on the days that I don't find funny.
I Love you Bud.