the waiting place…listen and pray

I got the call at six o’clock in the morning
hearing that voice tell me all I had to know
I knew it then
there’s no one he would turn to
all I could do was listen and pray
because he didn’t ask
and I couldn’t offer
I’m breaking this habit that could hurt us both more
I’ll cradle my guilt in this broken vessel
and I’ll work it out
in the waiting place.

I’m not sure when it first became clear that my younger brother had a problem with his drinking. I suppose it was when he began making a series of very poor judgments. We did the usual thing with whispering to one another, using code to speak about it. None of us wanted to say that we thought he was an alcoholic. None of us wanted to think that he was not in control.

At one point I remember sitting in my apartment worrying about what would come next. He’d already lost his marriage and had gotten into tangles with the law. He was falling further and further down and being 300 miles away I felt unable to help.

The six o’clock in the morning call was the one I dreaded but thankfully have not received. It was the one I anticipated over and over though for many years. I suppose it’s the call we all dread while in relationship with someone who struggles with chemical addiction.

My brother has come a long way since this was written. He has stabilized and picked up the pieces. It’s only God’s grace that keeps us all here…and the realization that sometimes all I can do is listen and pray.

And in the end we hope it is enough.


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