I’m Josh’s big brother, oldest of four. Which means I’m supposed to be heroic and in charge (or obnoxious and bossy, take your pick). Sometimes, I am those things. I’m also a preacher. Which means I am expected to be an expert on things like grief, courage, selflessness, and giving. And I sometimes am those things.
So, when my brother got diagnosed with very-scary cancer, I thought I was the perfect candidate to take charge. I’m the only family member who lives up here, I’m the oldest child, and I’m a pastor. Heroism, leadership, courage, selflessness will be useful! Expertise on grieving and giving will be helpful!
And, for a minute, I thought I was pulling it off. And then I started wearing down. Preaching became impossible. Last Saturday night, my brother and friends organized a prayer and singing meeting for Josh and others who needed prayer. I didn’t show. My parents drove six hours from Chicago for this thing. People who barely know him showed up. I stayed home. Why?
It hit me on Sunday. Josh is kicking butt at Cancer. He’s been the best version of himself - outgoing, loving, gentle. I suck at grieving my brother's diagnosis. I really do. And I’m jealous of him. He’s doing my stuff! I’m supposed to be in charge, heroic, selfless, and giving. I’m supposed to healthily grieve. What is he doing taking my place?
Well, I don’t suck at grieving. But I’m grieving. I’m trying to find a new normal. I’m trying to learn to live in this new space with the person I love so much, and it’s hard. I’m emotional. I sleep a lot. I’m finding coping techniques, I’m finding ways to learn, but it’s really hard.
My wife and I run the church together. She’s a champ. She took over preaching for a while, and she’s taken on other stuff - and she’s dealing with me at less-than-full-capacity. I’m jealous. I like being the hard-working, strong go-getter.
And I’m trying to learn that that’s all OK. This is the space of life I have to learn about now. This is going to be slow and hard.
Maybe it seems like this post is more about me than Josh. Well, he asked me to write it so blame him. One of best gifts we can give Josh and Kim is the best version of ourselves. The best version of myself right now is really struggling to figure out how to walk before I can run. And that’s the only self I have.