The very idea may seem ridiculous, even offensive to some people. However, prophets can be cited as examples of powerful spiritual personalities who have held a temporary resentment toward GOD for the judgments HE brought down because of the sins and evils committed by HIS chosen people. The punishments often seemed worse than the crime, in their eyes. Truly, forgiving GOD is never necessary, and yet…I have occasionally held some residue, deep inside, a secret resentment, even disappointment toward GOD for the situations I found myself in throughout my life.
For example, I was so angry when I lost my Soror, lawyer to be, sister friend to AIDS. How could GOD not rescue her or prevent evil from happening to her? I was angry with GOD because in 1989 he allowed me to bare witness to a stranger’s suicide. I stood as he jumped from the bridge to his death because brain cancer destroyed his beautiful forensic mind.
I tried to stop him but couldn’t and held myself personally responsible for my inability to physically stop the jumper. I was angry with GOD for years because I thought I’ve been dealt a bad hand. I thought it unfair that I was childless and unmarried. I am after all a good daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend, neighbor, and Godmother. I have no vices to speak of. I am not unlike those who live the fairytale and find happily ever after. I am no menace to society. I have played by the rules of a civilized society. I am educated because the principle goal of education is to create individuals who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done, people who are creative, inventive discoverers.
So why has GOD denied me? I was angry with GOD because why would HE allow me to meet and grow to love the wrong person for all the right reasons yet again. How could HE allow me to unwittingly discover the man who is undoubtedly my music from another room and not allow me to dance with him forever?
I resented GOD because HE not only took my Mother too soon but HE took her before I could apologize to her. Four years ago when I lost my Mother to lupus we were distant. Let me quantify that, being distant for us meant we spoke once a day instead of three to four times a day. My Mother & I were very close my entire life but there was distance at her time of death because the four months leading up to her death I got engaged to someone that she thought was no good for me.
We argued that October 2011 and never spoke of it. Like it never happened. I still called. We talked for three hours the night before she died but I didn’t go home as often because I was mad. Not apologizing or making amends left me with tremendous guilt when she died, it’s my worst regret, my greatest shame. I blamed myself and I was angry with GOD for robbing me of the chance to fix it.
I bet we are absolutely pissed off with God far more than we would like to admit.
While it may seem irrational and illogical to blame GOD for choosing the wrong partner, accepting an unfulfilling career, or living financially beyond your means, many of us do just that. We blame GOD. I held GOD responsible for my Mother’s death, my Soror’s suffering, my poor choices, my stubbornness, my hardspots, and my singleness. Who am I to forgive GOD for not preventing all the horrible things that have happened to me and to the world?
I’m human. But in my humanness I’ve discovered that my deeper healing will only come when I admit to myself that I am angry and accept that it’s okay to be the same. Only then can I truly appreciate that GOD allowed me to witness the stranger’s suicide so I could appreciate life and know permanent solutions are not the answer to temporary problems. HE took my Soror and Mother because he needed them more and recognized the lessons I learned in the wake of their deaths were necessary for my continued growth.
Everything I held a grudge against GOD for was just not and is not in HIS plan for me. I suspect GOD brings people to my life so that I can stand in the gap for them. When GOD has us unwittingly intercede for one another, our chief purpose is to fill in those gaps in one another’s spiritual armor and hold up that person so the enemy can’t gain an advantage over them.
Likewise, when we fail to intercede for one another, we’re virtually giving the key to that person’s spiritual house to his/her enemies for them to wreak havoc, to steal that person’s peace or joy. Just as we wouldn’t build a brick wall and intentionally leave gaping holes in the cement joints, I would go so far as to say it is malicious for me to not “go between”/ “stand in the gap” for my brother, my sister.
Jesus said, “By this all shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love toward one another.” [John 13:35] How can I say I love anyone and not pray for them? It’s impossible! It’s a contradiction and a lie! “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” [James 5:16]
Perhaps GOD disappoints me to incite empathy, it pushes me to feel the pain of others in my heart. HE makes me angry, calling me to stand. So I’m standing in the gap. It’s not easy, it’s frustrating, it’s even painful but I’m standing in the gap for others because it is on the side of righteousness and it is how I forgive myself and atone for questioning GOD.
Many will find my willingness to acknowledge my anger and disappointment with GOD blasphemous. Holding something against GOD, Kimberly? Really? I say to you GOD already knows my heart. What is it exactly that you think GOD doesn’t already know about you?
Since my Mother’s death there have been days where I literally questioned my ability to go on, i.e. get dressed, face the world, and even interact with people. Then I am reminded of her humor, her spirit and the presence of GOD. What occurs most often is that I go downstairs to find the light or ceiling fan on in my den.
Surely any electrician will say there’s a wiring issue or the remote control for the ceiling fan needs tweaking but I believe it is the presence of my Mother and therefore GOD. This morning at four o’clock GOD and my Mommy showed up again, offering their blessing for my desire to tell this tale. So with that confirmation I am reminded that what matters supremely is not the fact that I know GOD, but the larger fact which underlies it, is that HE knows me and is present.
All my knowledge of HIM depends on HIM and his never yielding interest in knowing me. I know HIM because HE first knew me, and continues to know me. HE knows me as HIS inquisitive child who constantly asks why and why not, who is stubborn, loving, kind, generous, proud, and who is also angered by what allows her to stumble and what manifests as suffering to others in the world. HE knows me as HIS and HE knows I forgive HIM and trust Him without hesitation, or reservation; because I choose to die empty for HIM, again and again.
Whoever said “Time heals all wounds” had obviously never met my brother.
It’s been over a year and I’m still learning how to do this crazy life thing without my best friend and little brother. Whenever something good or bad happens I always want to run next door to his room, text or call call him just to hear some uplifting words or hear his reaction.
The best way to summarize this whole situation is with 3 words, “It takes time.”
There are five stages of grief. In the last 19 months I’ve fluctuated constantly, sometimes on a daily basis between all five.
This stage seems to come most frequently. When I first got the news I refused to believe it. I was confused and tried to block out all the things I was being told. At one point I called his phone multiple times just to try and prove everyone wrong when he answered.
And the weeks passed. Denial would come in the form of waking up and forgetting that anything had ever happened and having to relive the situation all over.
More recently denial has been simple; whenever I feel myself getting sad I tell myself that my brother is on a long beautiful vacation, and I’ll see him someday soon.
Anger was simple. I felt an anger that I had never felt before. I was angry with anybody and anything involved.
“Why did this have to happen to my brother when there are terrible people committing heinous crimes and walking around freely??” “Why didn’t they help him?” “ How can they claim to be his ‘friends’ but nobody can seem to explain what really happened?” “Why did they invite him to such a place? “What if he had been somewhere else with other people?” “WHY, God?”
It was the type of anger where all you can do is cry and feel defeated because you know that there is nothing that you can do within your power to change the outcome of the situation. Anger because you don’t have answers.
For months I felt like a time bomb that could explode at any moment. People around me would use certain trigger words and phrases like “drown”, or “I’m dead” and it took everything in me to refrain from 1) bursting into tears and 2) giving them a verbal tongue lashing about their poor selection of words.
Bargaining came in the form of me constantly begging during my morning and nightly prayers. “Please God, I will never sin again, I will always be kind, I will never stray from you again, if you just let this all be a dream.”
But every morning following those evening prayers I would wake up and the outcome would still be the same. I was stuck with this new reality and there was nothing I could do about it. Even when I saw my brother for the last time I thought, “well maybe if I just hug him or hold his hand he’ll wake up and make a joke.”
I got to a point in my depression where I selfishly thought that dying would be much better than living because at least then I would be able to hang out with my brother. Dying was the perfect option. Feeling nothing was better than hurting every minute of every day.
If I died I wouldn’t have to be in constant pain. There would be no bills to worry about, no people to deal with, and most importantly, I wouldn’t struggle with telling myself every morning “just make it through the day.”
It was then that I also got to a point where I questioned my faith. There were many days where I would just be sitting in my room for hours crying and wanting to feel something other than pain and crying out to God, “If you are a merciful and good God why would you allow me to feel this kind of pain? why would you kill my brother?”
3 weeks after my brother’s accident I went back to school and resumed my adult responsibilities the best I knew how. The same week that I resumed class and work, I also celebrated my 21st birthday.
The morning of my birthday I rummaged through some old letters on my desk and found the birthday card my brother had sent me for my 20th birthday. I sat there staring at it, rereading it, and just pictured him singing “Happy Birthday” and a warm hug from him. It wasn’t right. I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to enjoy that day or any other holiday for that matter.
Initially I didn’t make any plans and had no expectations for my birthday, but with the help of an amazing teammate, Tunya, and even better friend I had the best birthday given the circumstances. Although I found myself doing what some would consider enjoyable I still found myself wanting to cry and thinking “I wish my brother was here so I could be happy again, I shouldn’t be having fun without him.”
During summer session I would sit in class struggling to take notes because I could barely see through my tears. Many days I just wanted to be left alone, in the darkness, to just grieve in peace without being asked ‘when are you going to go back to “normal?’” or being interrogated about the whole situation and having to relive the emotions from when I first found out.
I often found myself laying wide awake at night pacing up and down in my room. And when I was fortunate enough to get a few minutes of sleep I found myself quickly woken by a nightmare.
The hardest days were the ones when I woke up unable to discern between reality and dreams and found myself reliving the horror midway through dialing his phone number, sending a text, or logging on to any social media outlet and seeing the numerous “I’m sorry for your loss” posts.
As always, time went on and I adapted to school and this new life. Just when I thought I was making small progress, I was inundated with thoughts of the future. I realized that my brother would not be there for many milestones.
-My brother will never see me graduate from college
-My brother will never see me get married.
-I won’t be able to celebrate any more birthdays with my brother
-My children will never get to meet their Uncle Vince
Graduation seemed to be the hardest to come to terms with because it was the most meaningful and was happening in the very near future. Graduation was also just 4 days shy of Vince’s accident, so I knew my emotions would be running high.
The afternoon before graduation I found myself sitting in Rooker Hall with 2 of my teammates reflecting on the last few years and our plans for the future. I expressed to them my disappointment that my brother would not be there the following evening witnessing my commencement ceremony. My teammate Sarah said to me “Just because he’s not here doesn’t mean he didn’t get the invite. He’s going to have the best seat in the stadium.”
It was then that I knew that it was ok to move on with my life and no longer feel guilty for having fun or achieving wonderful things without my brother because he was always there with me, in my heart.
There were and still are so many unanswered questions. The lack of closure is what kept me up at night or kept me from focusing in class.
For a long time I thought that having an answer or just having someone to blame would make me feel better. It came to a point where I had to silence my thoughts and say, “ok Lord, I don’t understand at all what you’re doing but I trust you.”
I also had to tell myself two things:
that all those questions didn’t matter
even if I had the answers to all my questions would it put my heart and mind at ease? Honestly, probably not.
We live in a death fearing society. I think it is foolish for any of us to deny death or think that we are immune from death.
One thing that I have learned in the last 19 months, although cliche, is that life is short and anything can happen at any time, whether you are ready or not. I have learned to take things at face value and always embrace people with constant, unconditional, and selfless love. I had no desire to learn how to live without my brother, but I had to because life continues whether you’re ready or not.
You can learn how to live without someone, even your best friend. It won’t be easy, and it’s going to take some time, a long time honestly, but you can do it. Just remember that small progress is still progress. Never let anyone tell you how long you should grieve for, it’s a process and it takes time.
One thing that settles my heart is knowing that however many remaining years I have to spend on this Earth without my brother pales in comparison to an eternity in God’s kingdom. Until then I just have to remind myself he is on a beautiful long vacation.
I can’t wait for the day we can pretend we have our own cooking show again, or he can jump out from behind the tree in the front yard and spray me with his water gun when I’m running, or Saturday morning cleaning and taking breaks to have a sing or dance off. But most importantly I can’t wait for the day Vince can give me a long hug.
A wise man told me this year “Quality of life is not measured by quantity of life.” Vince taught me so much and did so much in just 19 years. He was the kid that loved to run drills in the backyard and put in the extra work even in the off season. He was also the kid that loved to volunteer with Hands on Atlanta on the weekends to build homes for families in need.
God gave me 19 years with my best friend and I will cherish them until I take my last breath on this earth because they were the best. We used to do EVERYTHING together. We had so many jokes we basically spoke a different language. Some nights we would stay up all night just being goofy and talking about the most random things.
This whole situation is so surreal. The only thing Vince hated more than tomatoes and brussel sprouts was seeing me cry and wallow in sadness.
I still don’t understand why this all happened but I do know that God has used this situation to soften my heart. I am learning to love and serve the Lord the way my brother did.
My brother would not only want me to be happy but he would want to be helping others and spreading Christ’s love. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, but with time you learn how to cope and be at peace, not in pieces.
My brother was my best friend, and he will always and forever be my best friend.