My brother Jay never claimed he was innocent.
He has, from what I’ve been told, been extremely forthcoming since the night of his arrest about the crimes he committed. He told us, at the time, that it was a relief to finally have everything out in the open. The first time I heard that, I wept at the thought of the guilt he’d been carrying with him, and for the realization that I had no hope of innocence to cling to.
When I went to visit him, the first thing I said over the phone on my side of the glass was that I loved him. He lowered his eyes, unable to face me, and cried. Without saying a word, I knew he was feeling the guilt and shame of being loved when you don’t believe you deserve it. I know, personally, that weight that has to crush you before it can finally give you peace. It broke my heart to watch the waves of shame wash over him and not be able to put my arms around him. But I was grateful, at least, that I could be there still when he was finally able to look back up at me. I told him I loved him again, and he didn’t need to look away.
That moment passed.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve watched from afar as Jay struggled against the truth. The whole truth. While he willingly told his own story, content to bear the consequences for his actions, he twisted and turned and tied himself up in knots in order to protect himself from the pain of “betraying” other people he cared about.
Half truths. Half lies. Desperate attempts to rewrite history in order to have some control over the future.
The relationship between Jay and my mother began to unravel, as relationships do when you try to pad them with manipulation and fabrications.
I saw the markings of a con man in my little brother. I saw the tell tale signs of the career criminals we grew up around who share just enough to make everything “OK” without ever really carrying the full burden of their mistakes. I watched the little boy I knew disappear into a cloud of smoke and mirrors and feared for what that would mean for his unborn child.
I thought maybe all the love that we could give him would never be enough.
And then the dam broke.
After a long phone conversation with my mom’s husband this weekend, Jay finally broke. Really broke.
He told the truth. The whole truth this time, despite knowing all that it might cost him in terms of what he’d come to see as “love” and “support”. Regardless of the unknown consequences, he surrendered completely.
Specifically, he finally talked to the investigators about everything and everyone that was involved in the robberies.
And the truth, it seems, has indeed, set him free.
He talked to my mom yesterday and said “It was really hard to do, but as soon as it was over I knew it was the right thing.”
The burden has been lifted from him. He is still facing the same consequences he was last week – years, probably, of a life behind bars. But now he faces those consequences with a clear conscience and an open heart. And that, I believe, will make all the difference in who he is when those years have passed.
I can breathe again.
The man who held my babies in his arms lives. The soft hearted boy I loved and protected as a child still exists inside that man.
The kind of love that I have feared would never been enough has, at last, triumphed over the mystical green ooze.
And my hope has been restored.