I was nine years old when I became the big sister to a tiny baby brother. He was the sweetest little bundle of joy you ever did meet. I remember rushing home from school every day and running into the house to scoop him up from where ever he was playing. He always seemed just as happy to see me, as I was to see him.
When he was a toddler we were inseparable. I would read to him, play with him, when it was bedtime I was the one holding his little hand as we walked up the stairs to go to bed. I was the one who fetched him water in the middle of the night, and comforted him when he had a bad dream.
I loved all my siblings, but somehow there was an extra special bond between the two of us.
As he grew older, he no longer needed me for drinks in the middle of the night, or to have bad dreams chased away. We were still very close though, but now we talked about books instead of me reading them to him. We loved singing together. We went for hikes in the woods every Sunday afternoon. He helped me with dishes, chattering incessantly the entire time, but I enjoyed it. We played endless games of Scrabble and Uno, just the two of us.
He was ten when I got married, he was sad, but it wasn't long before he was coming over almost every afternoon to help me in the garden, mow the yard, or on occasion when there was nothing that pressing to do we would pull out a board game. When Mr. Pepper and I welcomed our first son a year later, my brother was thrilled to be an uncle. He continued coming over regularly. I was so thankful for his help baby sitting.
My parents moved when he was fifteen and we wrote letters every week, and called when we could.
When he was eighteen he started working for a construction company. While on the job he fell off a roof and broke his skull, his collar bone, and had some other injuries as well. He was in a coma for a week, and when he woke up he was asking for me. When it was time to be released from the hospital he still needed care, and Mr. Pepper and I were glad to provide a room and care for him in our home.
Due to his serious injuries the doctors had him on strong pain medication. OxyCotin. I was concerned at how long he seemed to be in pain, but was glad the doctors were able to control it. (Oh if only we had known.)
After four months they no longer prescribed it, and said he was healed. He moved back to his apartment in another state.
I watched helplessly from the sidelines as he made one wrong choice after the next. Having become dependent on OxyCotin he went searching for something to replace it. He found it in heroin.
It hurts beyond what I can describe seeing a loved one battle this horrible addiction. He hates it too. I haven't seen him in years, but he still calls occasionally, and we Facebook message every day. And I pray, and pray, and pray that God will heal him of his addiction and spare his life.
Last week one evening I was very concerned when I noticed he didn't see the messages I sent him. Finally the next afternoon he sent me one, thanking me for praying. He had almost died from an overdose. How he was found and taken to the hospital was nothing short of a miracle.
When I see Facebook posts of people ranting how addicts should all be left to die, I shed a few tears. It looks different to me as a sister to an addict. I love my brother, I am thankful he wasn't left to die. I want him to be able to beat this addiction and get out of the horrible life he has now. I believe God can, and will work in a big way in his life. I refuse to give up hope, or stop praying.
When I hear of overdosing episodes I'm moved to compassion, because somewhere out there, there are family members, and loved ones of that person hurting in the sidelines.
Let's not be so quick to judge and condemn, but stand united in prayer and care against the evils of drugs.