It's been a hard week since I last wrote. Coughing up a lung takes a lot out of a person. And that's only part of what has been difficult. I can't begin to write about it all. Not even close. Let me just say that I feel like I've been swimming in water far over my head, with barely a life raft in sight. At times like these, beyond my depth, so far out of my league that I don't have the faintest idea how to get back to where I can stand, all I can do is cry out. Cough out, might be the better way to put it.
I can't share everything of this last week, but here's one: Can I just say, Facebook! Seriously, a networking system that allows complete strangers to find you based on hometown, high school, last name, whatever? Then it allows you to send messages to those complete strangers which rip your history in shreds. This happened to my little brother last week. The same night I was at the doctor because I couldn't breathe, he was facing a computer having the wind knocked out of him. Turns out someone recognized his name, asked to be his friend on Facebook, then proceeded to tell BB something about our middle brother BB had never known. BB sent me a shocked message, and we talked for a long time that night--me wheezing out the confirmation that yes, our brother really had done that dispicable thing this man claimed. I was startled BB didn't know, then realized that BB had been a 10-year-old boy, an innocent, beloved child whose parents didn't want him to grow up too fast. So when Andrew was removed from home for his deviant behavior, BB never knew why. And later, no one thought to tell him, just thought he knew. Until this total stranger spelled out the whole ugly story in details you certainly don't want to know here. I don't even want to know them, and I already did.
BB was shaken to his soul about this, shaken that he hadn't known, shaken that this man's venom was spewing all over him as well. We talked of how BB could alleviate some of the pain this man still feels. This man has long feared he'll run into our middle brother somewhere, and BB can alleviate that. With a sensitivity this stranger didn't show BB, my youngest brother typed a note back, extending grace. My heart aches this man, and it aches for BB. And BB's kindness touched this man, who wrote back a gentler epistle, acknowledging that BB was, after all, merely Andrew's brother, was not only not to blame for what Andrew had done, but had likely suffered a great deal for having been his brother.
BB told this man who wrote about Andrew, "We are still struggling to forgive him." And that's true. And there's a whole new dimension in that for BB now. There's more to forgive than BB ever knew. And I'm sorry about that for BB, who was always loyal in ways I didn't understand. I do now.
I love the written word. I do. And sometimes I hate the written word. I hated that a total stranger could find and hurt my BB like that. However, I also love that this exchange of messages brought some small healing to this man--and, I'm guessing, his family. I love, too, that BB discovered another reason to feel blessed by his parents. He feels awe that Mom and Dad went to such lengths to protect him, to make sure he continued to have an ordinary childhood in the face of horrific circumstances going on right in the same house. That they never gave it away, that Dad, especially, demanded that BB see/act as/be Andrew's brother. "He taught me to love and I didn't even know how hard that was," BB said to me the other night. Loving those hardest to love.
At the end of the correspondence with BB, this man said, "I won't be home this year for 4th of July, but when I do, I'd love to catch up with you (He clearly doesn't know BB lives in Massachusetts, not Pullman, Washington)...I'm glad to call you 'Friend.'"
Facebook. Love that a person can find old friends. Hate that a person can find old enemies. Love that a person can make peace with old enemies.