Tears of a Clown 3
“Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.”
― Greta Garbo
When Levi got back to his room, I was so relieved! Now, I could see for myself that he had made it through surgery safely. Not without battle wounds, but he was alive. I told him, “Bro, I’m still here.” I could tell that between the anesthesia and pain meds that he didn’t know whether to ‘scratch his watch or wind his butt.” I left him in the caring hands of his wife, brother and mother. I could now breathe another sigh of relief. Mel and Marshall came by and picked me up from the hospital to go something to eat. To me, it had been a long day that was well worth the stress.
The next couple of days were spent making small talk and getting to know his family. Marshall continued to play with Boudreaux, Levi’s new grandson. Chris, Charlene and his mom all seemed to be competing for the “Caregiver of the Year Award.” They were amazing at how they were attending to him. I’m not sure what the exact situation was, but I was introduced by his family as his “sister.” Now, between him and me we’ve always called each other brother and sister. His own family seeing, accepting and seemingly understanding our relationship also was the ray of sunshine that my heart seemed to need to feel.
I had just recently been wrapped up in some of my own darkness. This whole trip was beginning to feel like the ray of light that I had been searching for. I’ve looked back and have been able to recall this exact feeling. I’ve wondered why this has made such a big difference mentally for me. What I’ve deduced from this situation is this:
- My brother needed me and I was able to get there. I might’ve been a mess, but I got there like we had always promised each other.
- My ‘security blanket’ was finally back in my life….him.
- I had just been ACCEPTED, by his friends and family, for who I was even at my weakest moment. I wasn’t able to keep the mask on because I had been weakened by my own fear. And they still accepted me and all of me.
I must admit that it was pretty eerie at first. Everything for me has always come with conditions except for a few very close friends, close family and my parents. Even my ex-husband told me that he didn’t understand how my dad accepted my mother for who she is without conditions. He told me that loving someone like that wasn’t even possible. So, this situation with Levi’s friends and family and their acceptance and total disregard for the fact that I was gay, legally married and have a 2.5 year old kid didn’t even seem to phase them. They knew that I loved their friend and family member and that was all that counted.
I’ve listened to stories from almost everyone there about what a big part he has played in their lives. I can honestly say that I wasn’t surprised by what I was hearing. Another thing that he and I have in common is the fact that if someone’s in need of help, we will always be there for them. You can say that it has something to do with the way we were raised; the expectations of being from the south; or our own childhood trauma that’s had influence. What I can say is this…”Fighting the battles of abuse and life on your own is not easy nor is it fair.” Therefore, and I can only speak for myself, when I say that after my 8th grade school year that I have always vowed that no one that I knew and/or loved would EVER have to fight a battle on their own again. I will admit that he and I both don’t know when to keep our mouths shut at times. I would take that flaw rather than having any of my friends and family fight a senseless battle on their own.
When he was finally discharged and sent home, he wanted to ride in our vehicle because it was higher. We got back to his and Charlene’s house and the cooking began. He was in excruciating pain. So, I helped to make sure he was comfortable. I knew these last few hours would be my last for a little while. We were heading back to Albuquerque early in the morning. We sat, laughed and told stories with as many people that would sit and listen. As the time passed, we began to try and play, “Let’s Make a Deal” with our wives just so we could have those last remaining moments together. We honestly sounded like two kids who wanted candy at the store.
Finally, it was time and I must say goodbye to one of my closest friends. He and I didn’t shed tears in front of everyone. I hugged him and told him I loved him. I reminded him that I was just a text, phone call or instant message away. He told me, “I still can’t believe you and your family came all this way to see me.” I simply told him, “You were not the one that was on the other end of that phone line when I was talking to Charlene. Don’t ever doubt what I will do for you no matter what you may consider as insignificant. You are my BROTHER.”
I was fine going back to the motel because for the past few days that was our routine. When we got the car loaded in the morning and pulled out of the parking lot of the motel, I began to see and feel the tears begin to fall. All I felt was the pull and the hurt of the separation between us on my heart. He was in great hands and I knew that. Emotionally, I just left my brother. That was a feeling that no word could magically soothe. I cried most of the 13 hours it took to drive back home. And yes, the night I left him, he did the same thing. He is a man with feelings and I have never shamed him for that.
I look back on this trip and can do nothing but shed tears. They are tears of what could have happened. They are tears of what happened. And they are tears of joy for my family being completely embraced by some people who had only heard my name until we met. I now have the peace of knowing that I have several more “chosen” family members living in Arkansas.
I have heard their stories about our beloved “Spunky.” I’ve laughed a lot and cried with them. They have also laughed at the beautiful memories that we have of us as rebellious children. Also, things that were shared with me by individuals, is how very big his heart is even now. How he has taken people in and helped “clean” them up. We both seem to lean towards the people that need help. I guess maybe that’s why I enjoy working with populations that make a lot of people cringe. We both have a very strong line of STUPID/HARDHEADEDNESS that comes out in us at times. But, the one thing Levi and I still have that never changed is our love and respect for each other as human beings.
We’ve made mistakes and lots of them. We have had little victories that maybe he and I will only understand. But, my dear and very precious brother, I must say that through all the mistakes, to me you are not only a success as a human. YOU ARE A SUCCESS AS A MAN!
And once again…..the “Tears of a Clown” are falling.