Like the Christmas before, we didn’t send Christmas cards; we called my family in Canada. Ginny and I talked to my mom. We spoke to my uncles and aunts. I haven’t seen any of them in seven years and Ginny hasn’t met them yet at all, but she knows they are family and hopes to meet them one day.
The calls were completed, but I couldn’t relax. There was one call I needed to make, I was afraid to. I paced the house. I sat at my computer and wasted time. I needed to call. I couldn’t. I should. I couldn’t. I was in turmoil.
Five years before, I received an email from my brother. At the time, I had been out of work for several months. Stress ruled my life. The email from my brother was nothing terrible, but it made me angry.
I wrote back. As I typed, my anger grew. Months of frustration flowed into my nasty response. I said things that were not nice, but I hit send anyway. More thoughts occurred to me. I wrote a second nasty email. My fingers hammered the keys as I typed.
I basically told my brother to go to hell. I could care less if I ever heard from him again.
The next day I received an email from him. I didn’t read it. I just deleted it and then blocked his email address, so I could not receive anything from him.
In the last five years, I know he has tried to get through to me, but I ignored him.
I have lived with this terrible guilt. I thought about contacting him, but was ashamed of myself for what I’d said.
Now was the time.
I picked up the phone and stepped outside. I wanted privacy. Ginny didn’t know I was calling my brother. I took a deep breath, blew out a cloud of steam into the cold December air, and dialed his number. Even after five years, I still knew it by heart. A phone rang 3700 miles away in Nova Scotia.
There was no answer. I left a message. “Bob, it’s Mike.” I paused to take another breath. My hand holding the phone shook. “Bob, I guess I’ll start by saying I’m sorry.
I said some things I regret. I want to wish you and Delores (Bob’s wife) a merry Christmas and hope all is well with you. I realize you may not want to talk to me, but I thought I would try. I want to make it right again. If you want to talk …” I left my number.
I walked back into the house and looked at Ginny. “I did it.”
She looked puzzled. “You did what?”
“I called Bob.”
“Oh, Honey!” She walked to me and put her arms around my neck. “I’m glad.
You needed to do it. It’s family, Mike, and it’s been too long.” She kissed me. “You did right, Hun.”
The days passed. Christmas came and went. I waited for the call that never came.
I prayed for his forgiveness. The phone didn’t ring. Then a week after I called, I received an email. My brother left me a message on my Facebook page. He said he listened to my voice message over-and-over and knew I was sincere. In the weeks to follow, we emailed back-and-forth. The healing has begin.
Why did I let five years of my brother’s life slip through my fingers? Why was I too proud to call and say I was sorry?
If I had the answers, it would never have happened in the first place, but I know I don’t want it to happen again.
I wrecked my relationship with my brother. Like a jigsaw puzzle that has been dropped, the pieces are scattered everywhere. It’s time to gather them up and try to put it back together. It will take time, but I hope each piece I put back will gain a little more of my brother’s trust.
I swallowed my pride. I did it. Five years is too long.
He’s my brother.
Michael T. Smith