Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Grace: The Life Gone Could Have Been Mine

My sister Angi and her youngest daughter.
I recently read a memoir by Gregory G. Allen called Proud Pants, a story written from the author's brother's deathbed perspective.  Johnny has led a life of anger, addiction and consequences.  Now lying in his birth mother's house, it's a brain tumor that's finally going to put Johnny out of his misery.  Allen weaves the story brilliantly as he gets into his brother's mind so we get to know troubled Johnny and his search for escape.  We don't always understand Johnny and why he's so angry and does the things he does. The worst part is Johnny doesn't know why either. He's compelled to act out for some reasons not known to anyone.

What captured me most about this story was how different siblings can be. One brother acts out in devastating ways while the other makes the best of what the world provides him.  This idea got me to thinking about my own siblings.

My sister, Angi, died last year when she got drunk and got behind the wheel of a car.  This followed a period where it looked like she might finally get her life together. Before that she spent six years in prison for forgery and writing her own prescriptions for pain killers.  I don't mean to speak ill of the dead, but I'm not going to sugarcoat it either.  Angi's life was what it was.  It's the life she made.  I'm only sorry it ended the way it did.  She deserved better; whether she knew it or not.

When she died, my other sister, brother and I looked at each other and dared to wonder why not us.   My living sister was in a near fatal car crash many years earlier, but by some grace she lived and walked away with a broken neck. She had also been drinking.  I know my brother and I have both driven after way too much to drink.  By some grace neither of us were killed or killed anyone else.  Why wasn't Angi given the same grace?

After some thought, my living sister and I realized that perhaps Angi had been given the same grace, but she had been given it years earlier.  She pushed her luck and didn't come out ahead in the end.   The other three of us have each had our own struggles with addiction and alcohol, but we've learned from it and moved past it.

So back to the question, why one sibling and not another?  Angi had a different biological father, but I don't know that other than biology, she had things any differently. We were all raised together.   When we look at the biology though we do find that Angi's father was an alcoholic and ended his life when she was a teenager. Could that have been it?

Angi left behind two beautiful daughters. I look at them and hope against hope they'll come out of this relatively unscathed.   My parents have raised my nieces as their own from early childhood for the oldest and from near infancy for the youngest.   I want more than anything for those two girls to break the cycle and live a good, long, healthy life.   This is a case where both siblings should succeed beyond their wildest dreams.  They deserve it.

As for myself, I've stopped asking why. It doesn't matter why as long as I make use of each day I have. That's all any of us can do.  As for Angi, I hope she has found peace.  I believe that's all she was ever really looking for.

For more information about Proud Pants by Gregory G. Allen, check it out at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble online.  You can download it for your Nook or Kindle.

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