Rewind: The Bad One

About two years ago I wrote a post I thought I’d share again.  Mostly because there were about 2 people a day reading my blog back then!  And because two years later it’s all still true.

Still finding my way, still parenting a good kid and a bad kid.

And still loving it all.

Wasn’t he precious?!

The Bad One

Little Brother Complex

I was officially diagnosed years ago with little brother complex. No, you won’t find it in any medical journals. Yes, it was a self diagnosis. It also started many years before I lost my brother.

What is it you ask? LBC is an innate desire to take young men under my wing and care for them in my own unique way. I blame the strong male presence in my life, from cousins to friends to co-workers to my own actual brother. I always had more males around me growing up, and that shaped a lot of my humor, preferences and personality. I feel like I can take the female perspective, along with that my unique understanding of the male mind, and help them out. They don’t have to be younger than me, just have to be someone I’ve come to care for like I do my little brother.

It’s possible… okay, it’s definitely true that my caring can sometimes seem rough. I give them tough love, with real honesty and often on topics they’d rather not hear from me on. From relationships to health to schooling and careers. I want the best for them you see.

For a time I think I backed off from offering this tough love…. it didn’t exactly work out for me to help my own real little brother, though I certainly tried. But last night someone made me really laugh with his response to my (inappropriate) advice and called me a life coach.

While I’d love to have that kind of influence, we all do make an impact somehow. I think with Austin my impact was real. I don’t believe he ever questioned being loved by me or that he could count on me, even when he chose not to.

One day when my boys no longer think I’m the ultimate authority, I’ll be glad if they have people they’ll listen to who love them enough to be tough. Hopefully when it matters most.

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The Fun One

Not too long ago I wrote about Austin being ‘The Bad One’ But I’ve also come to the conclusion that he was also ‘The Fun One’ of us. I say this laughing, because I have fun. I truly enjoy life, relish adventures, and laugh a lot. Just like Austin did.

But…. he wouldn’t have gone to bed at 11pm, while others were just starting their night (like I did last night). He would have stories to tell this morning, other than how comfortable the hotel bed was (but it really was). He wouldn’t have considered sitting in the hotel lobby for four hours because the Skyway system might be too easy to get lost in (which it was). He would have just jumped in, though in his own relaxed way.

I’m thankful for my friends who I feel safe enough with to always have fun, and for my mom who always pushed me to live a little (though still doesn’t like me traveling alone), and a husband and kids that never let me forget that being with them is the best fun.

Over the years I’ve figured out how to not let so much get in the way of doing things I find fun. But mostly the change is being okay with my ideas of fun, and being okay with doing my own thing. But still…. Austin really was the fun one, so I guess fun and bad are sometimes the same.

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Painful Days

Doctors gave up on a cast after he removed two

Growing up, Austin and I didn’t get sick much.  But we more than made up for that with injuries.  You name it, we hurt it between us.  One of my parents first challenges with that was when I was burned severely at a young age.  It might have been a sign of things to come, and maybe even prepared them for having two kids who always found a way to get hurt.  Austin started young also, with a fall out of a shopping cart when he was about 2. It ended with emergency surgery to his finger.  Austin always stayed calm though, and the doctors were shocked when they were able to do it with only local anesthesia.  I however, sat in the waiting room crying the whole time!

As we grew, we continued to mount the falls, scrapes, bruises and breaks.  I was training intensely for gymnastics, and Austin played various sports.  We also spent free time playing with our friends on the land around our house, traipsing through woods, and generally making mischief.  I broke the growth plate in my elbow and spent almost a week in the hospital with an infection after surgery.  I sprained each ankle, wrist and knee more times than I can recall.  But I was pretty tough, and kept getting up when I was knocked down.  Austin was even tougher.  He was playing football in the yard when he heard a pop and had intense pain in his knee.  He was only about 8, but by now we all knew how tough he was, and when he cried about his knee day after day, there was no doubt something was wrong.  After pushing doctor after doctor to find the problem, he finally had surgery which gave him a few years of relief.  It turned out that he had more serious lasting knee issues than we realized, eventually in both knees.

A few days after surgery

Just to prove how tough he really was, he decided to fight a strand and barbed wire and lost.  But no worry, he never cried, even as they decided that he must have nerve damage since the damage to his face was so severe.  He wasn’t quite as emotionally tough we learned though, because the few tears that did fall were because he heard Dad might have gone fishing without him.

As a teenager, Austin’s knees had reached the point of needing more surgery, this time on both.  One of mine had also reached it’s limit, and we each had surgery, just days apart from each other in hopes of finding some relief.  That was the most painful time of our lives, as we were also coping with the recent separation of our parents, and our first Christmas away from Mom.  We had a pretty rough holiday, in physical and emotional pain, and unsure of what was ahead.  I was in college and didn’t like leaving him when that break was over.

During the next several years, we faced the family challenges and dealt with the pain, sometimes together.  But Austin was always a private person, so the glimpses into what he really felt didn’t come often.  The knee pain grew (as did mine, I eventually had one more knee surgery plus a few others), and he became more private.

Sometime around 2005, Austin and his girlfriend were hit while he was driving her car.  Their injuries weren’t life threatening, but for a guy with so much joint and general pain trouble, it was bad.  When Austin’s knees went into the steering column and his back took the impact it did, I believe a dark time began.  Soon after, the girlfriend broke his heart, and the the pain continued to grow.  He didn’t find much relief from the emotional or physical.

Austin had a job he loved, in a field he had been going to school for.  He had people around him that loved him.  But the pain was too much.  As the physical pain grew, so did the emotional, and trying to cope with both was too much.  We might never know how deep or real that pain was, and we may never know how we could have helped, because though we did try, he kept it hidden.

I’ll forever have pain over losing him, that can never touch the physical pain I’ve ever felt.  His whole life, Austin could take any pain, which leaves us to wonder even more, how bad it really must have been.