I once heard the quote “Everyone is the architect of their own destiny” At the time I didn’t get it.
Now years later it makes sense. It took the sale and use of drugs within my family to help me understand what it meant. The choices my family members made changed all of our destinies. Especially, the choices my brother made. You could say that drugs changed our destinies, our lives and our family. If we had made different choices, would our lives have been better or worse? That is the question I often ask myself.
When my three brothers, my sister, and I were growing up we had the best mother in the world. She coached Little League, had the first drive up window in the neighborhood, attended every function we had in school and took all the neighborhood kids trick or treating. She taught us to be honest. We were the envy of all our friends. She laid a solid foundation beneath us based on love and morals, and taught us the difference between right and wrong.
As we grew up that foundation was strong and solid. Then as we made choices we changed the structure of our foundation. My Mother blamed herself for our choices. In June of 2001, our foundation got a crack. My brother was arrested for sales of drugs. He was looking at a very long prison sentence. The crack now felt like a crater. Nothing was the same anymore. After months of court appearances my brother was sentenced to five years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Our Mother who had been sick since early 1998 wasn’t getting better. Now she had another worry in her life. As her health declined I felt another crack in our foundation. Our Mother truly believed she had failed us in some way. In March of 2004 our Mother had a major heart attack. On that night I realized that the foundation of my life wasn’t cracked anymore, it was crumbling.
I sat in the lonely ICU waiting room and waiting for the doctors to do what they could to save my Mother and realized that nothing in my life would ever be the same if she died. As the hot tears flowed down my face and clouded my vision it hit me, I was the only one of her five children that wasn’t incarcerated. I prayed and begged God not to take her from me. Never in my life had I felt so alone. I was devasted. The night seemed to crawl. It went on forever. Then seven short hours later my Mother had another heart attack. She was in a coma. The doctors hooked her up to every machine known to them. I was in shock as I listened to the doctor tell me that if she made it through the next forty-eight hours she had a good chance of surviving.
I walked outside as the sun came up. I felt lost and alone. I waited awhile and then I made the dreaded phone call to the prison to let my brother know about our Mother. The Chaplain informed me that if the prison verified the extent of our Mother’s illness and we paid approximately $700.00 they would bring my brother to see our Mother. It took about twenty-four hours to get everything arranged.
Our Mother was not responding yet but she was stabilized. I held her hands for hours and spoke to her even if she wasn’t responding. I told her my brother was coming to see her, I told her to please wake up. There was no indication that she heard me. I held her and never stopped talking to her. Late Sunday night the doctor came into her room and informed me that she was somewhat out of danger. As the night progressed I continued to speak to her. My voice and the beeping of machines were the only sounds in that lonely room. As dawn approached I was giving up on her regaining consciences. But, God must have heard my prayers, because around eleven a.m. she opened her eyes. She then asked me in a raspy voice if it was true my brother was coming to see her. I told her he would be there in about two hours. She smiled and said she was happy to hear that. I knew then that she had heard everything I had told her.
I sat with other family members in the ICU waiting room waiting for my brother. Right at one o’clock I heard the whoosh of the elevator doors opening and the clang of chains rubbing together as my brother was escorted down the long hallway to the ICU. As he came into view in his prison issue orange jumpsuit I realized he had leg shackled and was handcuffed with a chain that ran down from his wrists to his ankles. He was flanked by two guards and another guard behind him. I started to cry when I saw him. Tears ran down his face and I knew his eyes were red behind his dark sunglasses. I could only imagine his inner pain coming to see her under those circumstances. He was escorted inside the ICU. The guards showed compassion when they removed his shackles and his handcuffs. My Mother and brother were allowed to visit for one hour.
After that short one hour visit our Mothers health continued to improve. I finally had some hope that our family would once again be united. Unfortunately God had other plans. Our Mother passed away three months later before my brother was released. My sister and I were the only ones there, my three brothers were all incarcerated.
When my brother was released he swore to me that he was going to make changes in his life. I believed every word he said. He promised me that he would never set another foot in prison. For three months I believed we were on our way to repairing the foundation of our lives. I was so wrong. Three months later my brother was arrested once again for drug sales. This time he was sentenced to seven and half years and won’t be released till August of 2013.
Once again the foundation of my life has crumpled. First with our Mothers death and second with my brothers prison term. That is why I believe that our choices change not only our lives but our family’s lives.
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