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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Doing the Difficult

There are things in this world that are hard to do.  Achieving any kind of goal takes hard hard work.  Going to university was difficult, especially as a mature student.  It represents the culmination of years of effort.  Yet, in many ways, it pales in comparison to some of the other things I've had to do.

I'm bringing this up today because earlier I had to tell my little brother something that, even though I think he already knew, he needed, for whatever reason, to have someone tell him.

He rang me out of the blue in January to tell me some of the stuff that going on his life, but it was hard to talk to him.  I think he knew his life was going in the shitter, but he couldn't bring himself to recognize it.  As a consequence, he couldn't really tell me what I needed to know, nor did I ask the right questions.

I went and talked to one of his mates and one of my other brothers.  What they told me about his situation clarified matters.

I spoke to my little brother again today, finally, and told him exactly what I found out.  Believe me when I tell you I wouldn't have said it unless I was absolutely sure.

I had to tell him his wife was having an affair.  It was surprisingly difficult to do.  In part because, in the immortal words of Col. Potter (Harry Morgan) from MASH- "I hate to see any marriage go Kablooie," but also because I know that it was gonna hurt him.  And now he needs to make decisions.

It's these familial obligations- duty- that makes it hard and dealing with the pain of others.  And as difficult as it was, it wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done.

When I came home from work to discover my first wife's dead body on the floor, I went through all of the emotions that one would expect including shock- but before grief could set in, I made another phone call.  I don't even know I remained coherent.  I phoned her father to tell her she had passed.  To tell a parent that his child had died, I can't think of a pain to cause that would run much deeper.  It was a hard phone call.  I couldn't hold it together, by the end of it, I lost control.

Another painful obligation came when my grandfather died.  He had an emergency surgery that didn't go well.  He was on life support.  I went with my mom to the hospital so that she could discuss the future of his situation with the rest of her family.  I wasn't in the room for that, but it was hard just being there, to see my mother go through it.

Another time I remember going to see my uncle.  He had been sick with cancer for a while, and could no longer eat anything.  I was leaving the country, and knew he only had weeks left, so I went to see him.  Knowing him before his illness, and energetic and full of life.  Just weeks before his death, though, he was emaciated and drawn.  It was hard to look at him like that.  But I went all the same.  It was good to say goodbye to him in person.  I spent the day there.  I remember his wife being shocked when she opened the door.  But I was invited in with a smile.  I know I brightened my uncle's day, too.

In the end though, I know I've done the right thing by all of them, regardless how hard it was to do.

I know we all deal with shit in our lives.  All I have to go on, is to paraphrase Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird."  "Your father is an important man.  He is one of those that is born to deal with all the things no one else will."  I'm not saying I'm like that, but when situations come up, I can take strength from it all the same.  Family.  Makes life complicated and difficult, but its also worth it.

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