Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Brandon, I won't quit

I've been told to be silent. I've been told there is a time and place to voice my thoughts. But as I learned today (and most days in the past couple weeks).... that time and place is apparently behind others' backs. I'm not like that. I don't play that game. I refuse to play that game. So, I am not playing it... instead, I'm being me...

I called a friend to cover for me at work today because I had a horrible headache that I couldn't get rid of. As I told her, I could have made it through the day if I needed to. But, she was kind enough to come in and cover for me. My plan was to just go home and sleep the headache away. Instead, I found out that rumors about me have been going on for a lot longer than I'd thought, and involved more people than I had thought.

I left my workplace with a heavy heart, fighting back tears. Instead of going straight home, I went to the church - the place I have been going to find peace and comfort for the past 4 years. No peace or comfort was found. I was crying by the time I got home. I cried as my husband held me. I cried as i told him what was hurting me so much. And he said something that will stick with me for a long time...

He told me I didn't do anything wrong. He told me none of this is my fault. But what hit me harder... he told me that I stand up for the people with no voice. I give them a voice. And he told me I can't stop being that person. And what hit me the hardest... "your brothers are supporting you. They don't want you to stop being that voice."

Tomorrow marks the 16th anniversary of my eldest brother's death. Brandon was always my best friend. He was the one person I could always confide in. He never judged me. He never betrayed me. He never hid anything from me. He was more than just a brother. He was a part of my soul. He still is.

When he first became part of my family, he and I had to share a bed. He was 2... I was 8. And from that moment on, we were glued to each other. We played legos and match box cars together. As he got older, we invented our own game which eventually we started writing as a novel... Solar Stars. While we did let the other kids play too, it was a game that belonged to us. We were rebels... victims... heroes. He was Mercury and I was Venus. We were trying to defeat a tyrant. And we always succeeded. At least, in our game play.

I was the one he turned to when he was crushed that his girlfriend wanted to be a ballerina and he wanted to be a farmer - those too professions couldn't work together (he was 5, she was 4). I was the one he protected whenever anyone tried to hurt me. He was only 10 when he stood up to my 18 or 19 year old date and told him "if you hurt her, you'll have to deal with me." And went on to tell the guy there would be no kissing or anything else.

And I stood up for him as well. I stood between him and abuse. I tried to protect him just as he had always protected me. That is what family does. That is what it means to be a brother or sister.

Even after I left home, he would sneak messages to me. When I did get a chance to visit him, he met me outside with a hug, and when I had to leave, he held on wishing time would just stand still for a bit. And I held on with the same wish. That's the last time I saw or heard from him.

6 years later... Thanksgiving morning... I got the phone call. Brandon was gone. He died that morning. I had failed him. I should have fought. He deserved that. He wouldn't have stopped fighting for me. He never stopped. He and I fought against tyrants. We fought against those who put down those less fortunate. He and I gave what we could to homeless and those less fortunate. He gave everything he had. And he kept giving. And he never got anything back.

My husband was right. I can't quit. I can't stop being that voice. You want to hate me for speaking out - hate me. You want to hate me and spread lies about me just because I'm willing to stand up for those who can't stand - bring it on. You want to drag my name through the mud... accuse me of this, that or the other.... you better be prepared for the results. I may be as small as a 10 year old standing up to a 18 year old, but I won't back down. I am standing up for Brandon... I am standing up for my brother. I am standing up for all of those who've been kicked down repeatedly. I am standing up for those whose voice you try to take away.

You won this one battle - I gave up the Sunday School kids I love dearly. I gave up the church I once believed in. But you cannot and will not win this war. Strip me of all I have... I will still have my family. And I will still have the support of my brothers. And I will still have God on my side.

You have just your own vindictive and slanderous lips. 

I love you Brandon. I miss you. And I won't give up.

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