Tuesday, February 24, 2015

She Asked Me: Who Killed Your Sister?

“Traveling At Speed Of Light” by digidreamgrafix via FreeDigitalphotos.net 

February 2015

names have been changed and omitted in this post 


It was February, when skies are often gray all twenty eight days and temperatures typically hover in the fifties. I can take the chill of fifty degree weather, but please Dear Mother Nature, send us some sun with it… to take that winter edge off, so we don't feel as though we live in a gray blanket.

A little past three o'clock, I maneuvered thick afternoon traffic after having picked up my daughter from school… we had just departed from the post office and now were en route to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials like milk, bread and eggs. As I glided past stores, a seafood restaurant and a bakery… I heard my daughter speak up from the backseat.

"How come Daddy is taking us to see Braydon?" She asked me, "us" meaning her and her brother seeing their younger cousin Braydon.

My mental daydreaming behind the wheel was interrupted by her unexpected question and I took a few seconds to collect my thoughts.

"Braydon is my nephew, your cousin… so it's really my place to take you to see Braydon. I don't know why he's doing that. But sometimes people don't always know their place… sometimes people just ignore boundaries and do what they want." I murmured with irritation thinking of her father.

"Oh…" She responded "So, Daddy does it even though he knows he shouldn't? I mean, he does it just to be annoying? Because he's your nephew, your sister's kid so I don't think he should be doing that..." She asked me, rationalizing aloud, trying to get clarification on a situation that was beyond anyone's comprehension at this point…

"Yeah, pretty much!" I replied and as soon as I uttered it, realizing my tone was a little snappy. Ugh. I took a deep breath, this was very difficult territory for me, this was hard stuff, this was an area where I had to work comparable to pulling nails to not lose my cool. Rationally I knew it wasn't her fault. Admittedly just the topic alone often sent me into an irritated state by just thinking about it and succumbing to becoming grumpy. Deep breaths, I told myself. It's not her fault, she doesn't know what you're dealing with. She doesn't know that it is all ridiculously insane and some twilight zone we've all entered. Or maybe she did. Just quietly observing over time she had already gathered information about her dad's actions. She obviously saw reality as it was, she was a smart kid and I certainly wasn't going to protest when she saw the truth before her… the truth however grossly odd. It was so bizarre… my deceased sister who had been killed by a drunk driver; her child that was born just before her death, my sweet nephew… was at times in the care of my ex… whom my sister had despised with a passion. It was all so ironically dysfunctional and awful at best. My ex would occasionally have my nephew in his care when our daughter was on his week and along with our son they would go out to eat and hang out.

When I had explained this strange reality to sweet long time friends at breakfast one morning over eggs, biscuits and coffee, one of them leaned forward in astonishment and understandable angered injustice at the whole thing… "You have GOT to be kidding me!" was written all over her face… unbelieving that this was even possible, that anyone could be that inept, that conniving, that manipulative, that anyone could be that big of a "meanie poopie head" as my daughter says. But, yes, as unbelievable as it was, boundaries seemed to be non-existent and instead chaos ran amok happily served up by my ex.

As we drove along, taking the curves on the main thoroughfare, I ruminated over the situation, my daughter having sparked a mental narrative… she spoke…

"Mommy, how come you get stuff in the mail from those MADD people all the time? What are they sending you?"

"I get letters about other families that have been affected by drunk drivers, sometimes I just get updates on what they are doing to fight drunk driving and other times they ask me to donate money. I try to send them what I can." I told her.

"Oh…" She replied. I glanced at her sitting in the backseat via the rearview mirror and detected her furrowed brows… she was deep in thought and as if trying to piece together a puzzle, she seemed troubled by something. In seconds I would find out what it was… the next question was coming, like a tornado, a question I had dreaded one day my being asked and bewilderingly, it was now coming… like a wind that had been kept at bay for years… now it was being released and with it the ability to send me into a near panic at it's presence.

"Mommy… who killed your sister? The drunk driver who killed Aunt Elaine, who was it? Did they die?" She asked me, the question making my stomach drop, my hands gripping the leather steering wheel becoming clammy, wishing she hadn't asked. I truly hadn't expected this question this soon… maybe in a few years… but not yet. And I wished it hadn't shown up at my door… it wasn't something I had wanted to have to delve into… and at that I wasn't sure if I ever would be ready to.

I pressed the button on the radio, silencing the music playing softly and cleared my throat. I didn't answer right away… I sat at the light that had turned red watching the traffic flow, vehicles taking their turns, trying to grasp my thoughts… I hated this. I really hated this.

"Braydon's daddy killed her." I finally said.

I heard an audible gasp from the backseat and finally she spoke "Braydon's daddy?" She affirmed.

"Yes, " I responded through gritted teeth, "He died the next morning." I added.

"Ohhh… " She said sadly, then came the next question… "Is he in heaven? Or hell?"


The light turned green. I paused, looking both ways before hitting the gas to ensure anyone who believed they were invincible wasn't running the light.

Years ago, fresh in my grief I admit I would have said "hell". Quickly, it would have spat out like a nasty bit of phlegm from one's throat… I would have said hell and meant it. I would have gladly served up the answer of hell and felt justified. I would have shoved down any feelings that spoke otherwise and briskly moved on in my fury, hurt and loss. He had been abusive toward her both verbally and physically for years leading up to our losing her.

Now… today, I soberly answered her with more reason and insight… "I don't know where he is." I admitted, "I don't make that decision. God makes that decision. When people do things that are bad and that hurt others we may think they went to hell. And yeah, maybe were right. The bible says no drunkards will inherit the kingdom. But ultimately there is grace and God decides who goes where."

"Poor Braydon…" She whispered softly in the backseat, her small hands clasped in her lap. "Does he know?" She asked.

"No, he doesn't. Listen… if you have any questions about any of this, feel free to ask me, okay? But please don't bring it up to Grandma… "I added, "It only serves to upset her and she's upset enough about it."

"Okay, I won't." She agreed.


Drinking should always be dealt with carefully, with sober judgment and extreme moderation. The bible speaks of how we should not walk around in drunkenness, in lewdness and revelry as described in Romans 13:13. Anything of excess we know can cause major issues for us… but add alcohol consumption to a moving vehicle, well, any machinery really and we have a recipe for disaster.

The problem with drinking too much is not just related to the possible cause of injury or death from adding driving to the mix but also other unwise decisions… the more we drink the more our vision becomes clouded, our good judgment becomes skewed and the more likely we are to dabble in immoral actions like pre-marital sex, engage in brawling, letting our tongues loose in anger, or simply dying from alcohol poisoning.

I don't believe God is against us drinking altogether although some churches and denominations forbid it… According to this verse the bible shows drinking is permissible…

"...take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose.  Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish…" 

But that also doesn't mean to go nuts and throw caution to the wind… to succumb to a drunken state. I believe one of the other issues today with alcohol is the general joking done about it by society… it's everywhere, seemingly infiltrating home decor, gift bags, greeting cards, etc. When I'm out shopping and see decorative signs like "Wine Me Up & Watch Me Go!" it makes me cringe. I'd use that sign for kindling… it would never make it's way into my house. We never know if the person sitting beside us has lost someone to a drunk driver. Right after the loss of my sister I was at a church retreat with other women… sitting at the kitchen table eating a sausage and egg casserole with fruit and juice, I was enjoying the laughs and joy we shared together. But when one of the women laughingly quipped she put alcohol in her pre-schoolers sippy cup to drink at sporting events she attended, I recoiled. I was incredibly upset by that remark. I nearly bit my tongue in half and excused myself from the table. We never know if the person within earshot of us or sitting at the table we are sharing at the company Christmas dinner party is a victim of a drunk driver or yes, even a recovering alcoholic… perhaps they are using every bit of strength to rebuke temptation, {THEY ARE BRAVE} to refrain from having a drink. I do believe we as a society need to be more sensitive in general to others as the often casual remarks made in public, social settings can really wound. If everyone at a table is drinking and one person chooses to order iced tea or water… leave them be… don't ostracize them in front of their peers, don't point out their decision to not drink and above all do not mock them. Some people believe drinking is a sin… respect their decision. Never encourage someone to drink, especially if they've made it clear they have an issue with it. It's not to say you should never drink although that is a choice for some and that is okay… sometimes it's due to medications they are taking, etc. But we do need to make sure we are making wise choices if we do choose to drink.

When we make choices, including those related to alcohol we want to make sure we are honoring God… are we living as He would want us to? Are we following His word? Are the actions were choosing and the words we are uttering related to drinking something we would do and say if Christ was standing beside us? God wants a fruitful life for us… and when we make good choices it brings glory to Him.

© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com  ~ 2015

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