Walking Away From Family Part II

The battle scars of life

The battle scars of life
The battle scars of life

In the middle of every difficulty comes opportunity.   Albert Einstein

Walking Away From Family Part II

Those angry days brimming with hate, venom, and violence. In the streets of  Bronx, my best friend lay dead, murdered by someone who struck him and was too afraid to stop. He was about two and a half years younger than I. We grew up together … lonely and unhappy. He was my little brother, Gary Anthony Grant.

My most painful and, oddly, most treasured memories were our usual rides on the subways from the Bronx to Grand Central. That day, we waited silently for the Greyhound or whatever bus to take me back to Ithaca, NY. We were both quiet—seen but not heard—and silence was blissful. The bus arrived. Before I boarded the bus to find a window seat, he did something out of character. Something that made me embarrassed because it felt awkward. It was something I had not experienced since my father’s death.

He planted an affectionate kiss on my cheek before saying goodbye. Why? I will never know…. That kiss was one I  treasured.  Even today, it brings tears of love and the wonderful memories we shared together, but also the physical and emotional pain of loss.

We grew up without affection: no hugs, kisses, concerned voices, loving eyes or love. {Love was not a word ever uttered in our house when I was growing up.}

He was only seventeen years old. When I went off to college, I thought only of my escape from the house—I never thought of leaving him alone. I thought only of my survival, not of his. I left him behind to live in the house of a woman who knew nothing about love and everything about hate and spreading unhappiness. He never experienced the joy of unconditional love and had no opportunity to enjoy life because he died young and alone in the streets of Bronx.

The day after I returned home from college o summer break, he died. Yes, his lifeless body laid on the streets of the Bronx. I felt a piercing and unbearable pain at the thought of him dying alone. Like my father, my little brother died alone and in pain. A driver struck him and then left him in the street to die. Why did this happen?

No, he was not into gangs or drugs—he was going to Syracuse in the fall. In the Bronx, many families value education, contrary to popular stereotypes. My brother was rushing home to not anger my mother whose temper was dangerously unpredictable. He took the shortest route, an exit ramp off a busy highway. He was struck by someone, who fled the scene.

The Cornell-hoodie he wore was my gift to him and identified his body.   I miss him so much. He was my best friend, always there for me but I was not there for him, as he died in pain, alone. My dear sweet little brother.

That was not easy to tell, and I don’t know why I told it. How does it fit this post?

I just did something I have never done before, shared a very personal, and still deeply painful, memory.

Memories make the deceased immortal; I will never let him be forgotten.

*********

I walked away from disrespect, betrayal and abuse. In return, I discovered a new me that was always there, but whose voice drowned in the vast ocean of guilt and self-doubt.

In walking away from family, and the negative controlling energies of others, that voice became louder. It was a voice of reason, insight and wisdom; it told me to let go. I am still unravelling the wisdom that it revealed. A glimmer of light trickled through my dark world while I listened to melodious whispers, whispers that made me shout: IT IS OKAY TO BE ME!

Proudly smiling,

Oblivious to her battle scars

She LISTENED!

Balancing the scales

Of courage, insight and wisdom.

 She became a defender of the downtrodden.

The battle scars of life
The battle scars of life

********

In the words of Albert Einstein,  “In the middle of every difficulty comes opportunity.”

Walking Away From Family….

Author: Angela Grant

I am a first generation Jamaican immigrant whose experiences and accomplishments were made possible by the courage, sacrifices and the heroic acts of many whose bodies have rotted away in unmarked graves. Those are my heroes. Their sacrifices and death paved the way for my children and I. Failure to Listen is a token of my eternal gratitude. Failure to Listen is a tribute those generations of unmarked graves occupied by people of all races whose ultimate sacrifice of life opened the door for me and others, THANK YOU. Failure to Listen https://failuretolisten.wordpress.com/ uses cultural lenses to appreciate and understand the relationships between current events and our values, beliefs and attitudes. Culture is everything without it we are nothing. Failure to Listen will take you on a journey to recognize the beauty of our differences as the seeds to creativity, innovation and resolving disparities. By sharing my personal and professional experiences, I hope to do justice to the perspectives of those who are rarely heard or listened to. This site is not to incite anger but rather to provoke thought. It is my hope that Failure to Listen will work to foster intergroup dialogues and motivate readers to step outside the box and get to know ALL PEOPLE. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, let's join hands and remember his famous speech about a dream... A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead

12 thoughts on “Walking Away From Family Part II”

  1. Hi Angela, I read this post only now, but I too lost my younger brother, who I loved deeply. It motivated me towards social justice work, and the work is a way of sharing love for him, I guess. It’s moving that you honour your brother in this way, and I am sad that you lost him so terribly. Best wishes and strength to you, even now. Nicci

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    1. Thank you Nicci. I am also sorry for the loss of your younger brother.
      A treasured memory despite inevitable tears… Maybe that is why I am pulled towards social justice also….insightful, I hadn’t considered that.

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  2. PS – The 2 photos are perfect for this post – you with the reflection, and then the collage of ‘battle scars’, with what I imagine is your little brother in the background. Very powerful!

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  3. Hello Angela – A very moving narrative! And the kiss on your cheek from little brother, a gift indeed.

    I too experience life as being brought up Catholic, and I was active in social justice within the church, until 1994 when I could no longer stomach the injustices, abuses, and muzzling within the church hierachy itself – they have closed the windows and the air is getting stuffy indeed! Having said that I do know, as i’m certain you do too, of some “religious people”, who really walk the talk!

    I still carry within myself the freedom of consience which is core to my small c catholic (translate as universal) understanding of the world – that is respect, love, and speaking up for the voiceless.

    Keep on keepin on. The world needs your strong voice of justice towards those in the world who are ‘downtrodden’. Thank you so much, for your courage and activism!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bruce,

      There are many wonderful souls, some even Catholic (joke) 😉 It’s funny how we willingly accept these injustices and abuses yet become outraged by innocent humor like my attempted one above. People are people — good and bad exist everywhere.
      Thank you for your comments and encouragement, we carry similar torches. As you sensed, my past is still upsetting , particularly, when it comes to the loss of my brother. Sharing that special memory was my way of honoring his memory as well as giving him immortality.

      I do believe there is something greater than us individually; maybe it’s that collective mind. Not everything can be explained by science alone, (this coming from a doctor who majored in Chemistry).


      BTW, do you know the history behind the term Defender of the Downtrodden? Wiki is great! 🙂

      Angela

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  4. This is a powerful and moving testimony that was very humbling to read. I can’t imagine the pain and loss you have endured. There was a time, more than one, when I considered throwing in the towel and checking out. I, too, had to leave religion behind for real faith. I am glad to have made your virtual acquaintance and I’m grateful that our paths intersected.

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