A Reflection

Like most everyone else, whenever 2016 was mentioned I cringed. Thinking on the year past, I realize I was spending most of my time waiting for it to get better. On January 1st 2016, I just knew it was going to be my year. Everything that I had been planning and working towards was going to finally take off. My book sales were going to skyrocket; I would get a prestigious internship that would put my career in broadcast journalism on the fast track; my family and I would move into a fabulous new home; and some how thousands of dollars would drop into my bank account, becoming a never-ending resource. Well, half way through the year not only did none of those things happen, there were very few signs that they would happen...ever.

 Now it's not like when the year started warning signs blazed at every corner. January rolled by effortlessly; I got into my groove with school. Home and kids were moving right along throughout February. I even made some new friends at the beginning of March. Then one night my mother called me saying I should call my brother because he sounded strange the last time she spoke with him. This wasn't unusual. He separated himself from my family as a way to cope with the abuse my father inflicted. But we did see more of him in the months pryer, so I decided to call him just in case. 

To my surprise he answered on the first ring, and his tone was condescending yet pleasant (if that even makes any sense), but I was happy to hear his voice.

I asked him if everything was ok and he responded in a way I was not prepared for. A conversation ensued that was so disturbing I experienced anger, sadness, guilt and sympathy all at once. My brother cursed me in ways that I only ever heard from my father. I knew something was wrong. All of the years my brother spent denying and disassociating himself with what happened in our family, seemed to come flooding back so fast that he began to drown in the memories. 

I listened as my brother recounted nights that he witnessed my father raping me. Only, he blamed me for it. He blamed me for the physical abuse that he suffered because in his words:

"If I didn't catch you having sex with our father, I wouldn't have gotten beaten." 

Through pleas and tears I tried to defend myself only to be met with a busy signal on the other end of the line. Ten minutes after hanging up on me, my brother began texting me with accusations and finger pointing that lasted into the late hours of that night. I responded  telling him that I loved him and I suggested that he speak with someone to help him through the hurt. 
A few days later I got a call while I was in class telling me that my brother killed himself. 

The loss of my brother set the tone for the rest of the year. Opportunities seemed to slip through my fingers. Friends and family appeared to turn on me. I lost someone that I loved and my mind set to a filter that highlighted everything that is wrong with the world. Suddenly the darkness became even darker and the light was like the twinkle of a distant star threatening to reflect the inevitable; that it stopped existing long time ago. 

But having experienced the loss of my daughter, I knew I could not let myself be consumed by grief. Though my struggle with the thought that my brother died hating and blaming me for his suffering distressed me, I couldn't let it distract me. It looked like the relationships I had with my sisters were crumbling around me, but I stayed focused the best I couldAnd though I did not dwell on the goals I didn't meet, or pine over the plans that didn't work out in my favor, everything just seemed more difficult than it should have been. My brother's passing rumbled through my family like an earthquake and the aftershock still resonates even today.

By November my children and I were having Thanksgiving dinner at home away from everyone else. As we bowed our heads to say grace and thank God for the blessings of the year I realized how many blessings we had to be thankful for. I had been invited to give a talk at a woman's conference in Baltimore; allowing me the opportunity to help more people. I was asked to interview a famous presidential historian. I incorporated my nonprofit organization. I built some amazing relationships throughout the year, and my family and I were healthy and safe. Through that small prayer of gratitude I learned that I had been so focused on waiting for the year to get better, that I forgot what signs of it getting better looked like. That's the beauty of counting your blessings. It forces you to adjust to the light no matter how slight it is. Then even a small glimmer becomes a beacon out of the darkness.

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