Today is my brother’s birthday. I will not, however, wish him a “Happy Birthday”, because in his world, they do not celebrate birthdays.
So, instead, I send him love and light and remember him with joy for all the laughs we have shared and the smiles he has put on my face. I am grateful for having known this man, for he was at one time one of my favorite people to spend time with.
I haven’t seen my brother in four or five years. The last time we actually spent more than a few minutes together or spoke of anything of substance was over seven years ago. This strange situation is due to our differing beliefs; he, along with the rest of my “blood” family belong devoutly to a highly restrictive religion. I do not. I chose a different life for myself when I was in my thirties. A path that led me to a life that is beautiful beyond my wildest expectations and came at a cost…the cost of my family.
Some wonder how I am not bitter as a result of this situation. Indeed, I could be. Depending on your personal perspective, it is quite possibly the most unfair choice a person should ever have to make, or perhaps the most liberating. I choose to think of it as the latter.
When I left the religion that my family belongs to, it was not without the knowledge that it would change things. I am certain that I was prayed for with earnest hope and faith that I would return to the congregation and to their firm belief that this would be a better life than I could have otherwise. And when I chose to move in with and live in a common law relationship with the most spectacular man I have ever met, I am not sure how those prayers may have changed, but the sensitive consciences of my beautiful and loving family no longer allowed them to associate with me on a social level due to my sinful course. In their world, sex outside of marriage is gross immorality and constitutes one unclean before God. To make sure that they are not contaminated by my worldly attitude, they must protect themselves by limiting their association with me.
Now, I am not by nature someone that you would feel is a bad influence. I have never tried smoking, drugs and do not drink to an excess. I have only every been with two men in my life; I am not a promiscuous person…despite the rumors started by my ex husband when I left him almost a decade ago. And I don’t try to change the belief systems of those around me, contrary to the mission I had when I was a believer – I, along with my fellow congregation members actively and regularly worked hard to change the beliefs of those around us to shift to accept our way of thinking. I believed that this was the only way to achieve eternal salvation. Now, however, I am quite averse to attempting to change anyone’s opinions – I enjoy when others have differing thoughts on matters than I do. And I like it when people allow me to have mine. That’s not to say that I don’t want to know what their opinions are. I ask a lot of questions. And I enjoy hearing the answers and deciding for myself what I want to believe. I find comfort in now belonging to a group of people that allow each other the freedom of their own beliefs while still accepting each other. It’s a beautiful thing.
So, out of respect for his beliefs, I will not send a “Happy Birthday” message to him. But I take this time to sit with my memories of this person that was so important to me and I honor those memories. I hold them in my heart, as they are precious.
I am grateful for them, all the more so as I understand that being in this current situation is very much my choice; one I would make again, even knowing how far reaching the consequences are.
I chose and continue to choose the better life for me. The happier life, a life of freedom and I look back on those good and wonderful people I no longer have in my life with joy for the memories they have given me.
On this day, my brother’s birth day, I choose to be grateful. Grateful for knowing this man, for the pleasure of the laughter we at one time shared and the bond that I will always hold my end of. I am so glad he was born, for the world is absolutely a better place with him in it.
Forever a sister…