Last summer, my little brother Jay was sentenced to 30 years in prison for robbing banks. It was, as you can imagine, heartbreaking for everyone who loves him. Since his sentencing, we’ve all had to work on coming to terms with this new version of normal. We’ve had to practice letting go of what we imagined for the future and accepting what is right now.
That acceptance was tested recently when my brother’s ex-girlfriend – the mother of my beloved nephew – got engaged.
I found out about the engagement through a text from my mom. My first instinct was to grieve a little.
I couldn’t help it. I thought of what might have been. I thought of my brother and everything he’d lost – everything he’d thrown away. I thought of the wedding he wouldn’t have and the family he wouldn’t raise.
While my stomach rolled over all the memories my brother wouldn’t make, my mom sent me another text.
“I’m really happy for her.”
And she was. I knew that she was. And I knew that I was, too. I was happy for her because the man she’s going to marry is a wonderful, kind, and loving man. He’s a good guy, and I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather have standing in as a father for my nephew. I’m thrilled that they are taking these steps to solidify their family.
I told Jared, and I could see in his eyes that he instantly thought of Jay. I love him for that, but I reminded him – reminded both of us, really – that this is good news. This is good news for where we all are now.
I sent a message to Bre and let her know that I was genuinely happy for her. I admitted, too, that my heart hurt a bit at first, and that it might always go through that dance when milestones like this come up. She was incredibly compassionate, a trait I’m always glad to see in my nephew’s mother.
But, she also reminded me that she couldn’t live in the shadows of “what could have been.”
I’m glad to see that in Jude’s mom, too.
This is life moving on. This is us moving down the path we’re on, doing our best to be more grateful for the blessings here and less obsessed with the roads we didn’t take.
This is acceptance in progress.