So, if I didn't share it all on this blog it would not be true to my real life. For those of you who are new followers and don't know me in real life you may not know that behind all of these happy times there is darkness. If you followed my old blog you would know that I have a brother who got into some trouble but that's it, I never elaborated. So, here you go!
My oldest brother Ron, my hero, the one I looked up to growing up is incarcerated in a federal prison in Pennsylvania. Even that is hard for me to type. For the past 15 or so years he has had a terrible drug addiction. When he was in his early 20's he had a serious back surgery which led him to pain pills that destroyed his life. He had it all, a beautiful new home that he built in an upscale neighborhood in our town, a thriving siding business, he was and I think most would agree, the BEST around. He sold his home because he said he wasn't happy living there and made a huge profit. That money was gone in no time. We're talking $40,000, gone in a few months. His problem escalated year after year. He was in and out of rehabs, I went with my parents to every one of them and it never got easier and his addiction only got worse. Two years ago he began a marijuana grow and this was no small harvest, he had 250 plants. The feds got word and he was arrested, his home was raided and he has been locked away ever since. Before I go on, I want you to know that this saved his life.
I saw Ron face to face this weekend for the first time in two years. Before he arrived at the federal prison 7 months ago he was moved around from one jail to another before settling in at Loretto, PA. I only visited him at a couple of the local jails and they were never good visits. In fact, the last time I saw him was in the Warsaw jail and I cried my eyes out for the entire visit. These visits were always with glass between us and we had to talk through microphones, terrible, and very impersonal. His charges could have held him imprisoned for atleast 20 years but he had a top notch attorney and only got 5. Why it worked out this way, I don't know, I may never know, but what I do know is that it's all in God's plan.
I went this past weekend w/ my mother, father, Lauren (Ron's significant other) and Brody, Ron's 1 year old son. As we pulled into the prison parking lot I could not believe I was actually getting ready to walk into a federal penitentiary. I couldn't believe I was actually seeing the barb wire, the dull brown buildings, and the prisoners walking around aimlessly with my own two eyes. This wasn't a movie, this was real life, this is my life and I just could not believe I was there. Our life, so sheltered, so perfect, we were loved by our mom and dad and nurtured by them every single day. How is my handsome, talented, funny, and smart older brother in this place? The one that can sing so beautifully, play the guitar like no other, crack a joke in two seconds, and light up a room with his presence. I could not for the life of me wrap my brain around it.
After going through security, taking off my pearl earrings, my tortoise shell headband, and my watch, we finally made it to the room, the room that was brightly lit with inmates in green outfits and black boots, facing the back wall, the families facing the opposite direction. We found our little corner and waited patiently for Ron to find us. I suddenly lost control of my emotions and began to cry. My mother held me and said it was going to be okay. I got myself together and looked up to see him, my brother, walking through two steel doors. There he was, finally!!! Dressed like the other inmates in his green attire, his hair cut short and now a mix of salt and pepper but still very handsome, he slowly made his way to us. I began to cry again, he looked nervous but he looked so great and so healthy. I was overcome with joy that I was finally going to get to see, sit and talk with him for hours. Was he really sober, was he as positive as other family members that had already visited him said he was, was he happy to see me? The questions lingered. We hugged, for a long time and I cried and cried.
We had a great visit Saturday and Sunday. We sat and talked for hours, we laughed alot and there were also some tears. I'm still asking myself, do I have an adult relationship with my brother? Is he really alive and sober. That sounds like a crazy question but for so many years I never thought I would get to see this, I knew deep down that the probability of him passing due to his drug addiction was pretty high. Is he really this amazing guy that I always knew he was deep within his soul but blinded by drugs. Did he really mean it when he said he was sad when we left on Sunday. He has emotion, he has feeling, this is for real. Do you know how many years I have prayed for this, for him to be freed from the demons that have haunted him for so long. I'm crying as I type this because it's real. I praise God for this, had it turned out another way I would still praise him for being so faithful to me. For continuously revealing even in times of doubt that his hand is in this and regardless of the outcome, I had peace for years. How does one go on with life knowing their blood, their brother is suffering everyday, only with the Grace of God. That's not to say when Ron ruined holidays and family dinners I didn't leave upset and disappointed. Not only for me but for my parents. But that just took me one step closer to Him, just praying please God, let him experience you and this life without sin before taking him. I know that may sound harsh but that's the reality of it. He was so thin and frail when he was arrested, he was on death's door.
My experience visiting this prison was life changing, my experience seeing Ron was life changing. I am at peace more now than ever with my relationship with my brother. I ask all of you that reads this to please lift him up in prayer, he will be traveling to a drug camp in 6-8 weeks and will spend the remainder of his time there. He mentioned that he was nervous about this for various reasons so I also ask that you pray specifically that he completes this and completes it right. Pray that he can fight any temptation.