Two years ago today life changed. I could no longer say I had a brother. My niece and nephews could no longer say they had a dad. Our mom could no longer say she had two sons. Life changed, I changed. Most of the world, at least in the Minnesota world, only knows the man reported in the media. All the transgressions, faults and failures of a man who seemed to be living the American Dream that became the ultimate nightmare. Yet, I know a man who was an incredible father, a successful educator and coach who positively impacted many lives. Perhaps the media should focus on how a person's life went from dream to nightmare in order to help others instead of tearing apart the families with only the sensationalized pieces of the story.
Somehow out of the ashes of this nightmare there has been hope, there has been light and while the change has been hard, I'm a better person because of this and because of the impact of so many that know this journey and have been willing to share. The grief journey can't be defined in books or therapy sessions although those are good things. It looks different for each of us. That's ok, that's good even and the stories need to be told.
Our journey (I say our because Esther has been on this journey with me, thank God.) has been transformed by something that can only be described as a God thing for us. We didn't have some great vision or plan for this piece of land we bought on the Paleface River in Cotton. Yet, the impact this place and the community we have experienced through Camp Christopher has been immense for each of us. While I was aware of the growing mental health needs in our communities through my years in education, I was quite naive to the desperate need for a safe space for people to share their story and to have a space to grieve, heal and hope. We need to have more spaces for those things to happen.
So yes, life was changed two years ago today. It has been hard. Somedays the light and hope are lost in the fog and yet, somedays, the glimmer of light, feeling of hope are brought to you by the hearts of others who share this journey and tell their stories. I won't pretend to understand what my brother did to create this nightmare or what his mind was thinking when he chose to die. I do know I cannot let his death go without it making a difference in some way that positively impacts at least one life. Sometimes it sucks the life out of you but I choose to ensure that the loss of this life will somehow bring life to others.