When I was in New Mexico visiting my mother and sister I received a call from a Tuscon hospital that my brother had been in a bicycle accident and was in intensive care in a coma. I called and found out the coma had been induced in order to address the swelling in Ben's brain and that he was highly sedated. They didn't know anything about the condition of his brain and wouldn't know until the swelling went down. I was shocked and had mixed feelings about what to do. My brother has been a troubled person since he was a young teen. I am in contact with him by e-mail. I don't know where he lives or works. He was homeless for three months this year and seemed to be getting back on his feet. He had his own apartment and had rented a space to fix cars. I was excited for him that positive things were happening. I love my brother and I set clear boundaries for myself in our relationship. My sister and brother are not in contact and he hasn't been in contact with my mother for three years and his son for twenty years. He has smoked marijuana daily since he was fifteen. At fifty-eight his life has been filled with lost jobs, broken relationships and financial and health crises.
Gary asked me if I was in the hospital would Ben come to be with me? I said he wouldn't be someone I would ever think of calling if I was. I have a really good support system and I don't think of my brother as part of it. He tries to listen and has a good heart but has been so self-absorbed the conversation quickly switches back to him soon after he says how are you. E-mail works better. So why am I writing this? I want to get clear about what to do. The hospital called because I was listed as next of kin. When they asked me who else he is connected to I had to say "I don't know." On Monday the neurologist called and asked for my permission to insert a breathing tube in his neck and a feeding tube so Ben would be more comfortable. When I asked him whether he would do this if this was his brother he said" absolutely." So, I agreed. Today the ICU said that they couldn't do any more for him and were transferring him to a regular floor tomorrow. His apartment got my name and called because he hadn't paid his rent. I called the hospital social worker today to see if they have any contact information about where he works or if he has any friends there. My sister and I are thinking of going there to collect his things for him before he gets evicted. From his lack of responsiveness it doesn't look like he'll be returning to his apartment in the near future. I feel so much sadness for the bright-eyed boy he was. It's hard for me to handle my grief right now and I feel defensive about being protective of myself. This feels so heavy to be in a position to be making life decisions for my brother when I know so little about what he would want. I want to get clear about what is guilt and obligation and what I can genuinely offer to do from my heart without resentment.
That is the key. Am I willing to go inside and see what feels right to me? Am I willing to let go of the stories I am making up about what a bad sister I am and what other people are thinking of me? Can I be OK about how I feel and what I think and let my intuition guide me? In that way I can openheartedly show up and do what I can with love. Can I trust that that will be enough?