(This post comes from an anonymous reader.)
My eyes were red and swollen even before we arrived at the church. I had already been crying in the car, not so much for him, but for all that I knew had happened between us so many years before this day. My older brother was just one of four primary abusers in my childhood, but in many ways he was the most damaging to me. And now he was dead.
The swirling emotions I felt as I entered the church were toxic and overwhelming. Family members greeted me with saddened, concerned faces, yet no one seemed as broken as I was, including his widow and children. No one else seemed to be struggling to hold back scalding tears, even though I know that many were genuinely sad that a friend, son, husband, and father they loved was now gone. I had known a completely different person than they had.
Music played softly on the sound system. I tried to put on a nice smile and talk with family members and friends, but as I saw the black and white photographs of our childhood years scroll by on the screen in the front of the church I ran down the hall to hide in the kitchen as I sobbed uncontrollably.
Mercifully, the service was brief. I managed to stand and read his obituary and to sing The Lord’s Prayer at the end. I don’t know how I made it through, but I did. It was my “gift” to him, even though I don’t believe God’s will was done “on earth as it is in heaven” in our lives in any way. I don’t believe that big brothers were made to abuse their little brothers.
As the service ended, the tears sprang up again from deep inside. While others dabbed at the corners of their eyes, I sobbed again. My wife stood there and wept with me. She held onto me and whispered, “No one knows. No one knows. You’ve done the hard work. It’s over now.”
I shook a few hands, hugged a few necks, offered a few platitudes, and exited the building. My wife offered to drive but I refused. A few moments later, as I was backing out of the parking space, the sobbing returned—even harder. We changed places and she drove us away from the church. I had said goodbye.
Thank you for breaking your silence. Few give voice to sibling abuse, yet so many suffer. Your words are needed.
Thank you for this post. My father (abuser) died when I was seventeen and I was numb during his funeral, watching all mourn him, but I felt nothing. Years later my mother died. Neither parent apologized for the abuse they inflicted on me and I was emotionally hurt to the point that I couldn't confront them. In retrospect, I wish I had been able to say something or ask questions. It took years before I finally realized they were REALLY dead.
I admire your courage and the gift you gave your abuser. I am glad that your wife was there to support you through this and I pray that as time goes on you find a peace that passes all understanding in this.
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