Because He’s My Brother

The past two years have been incredibly hard on my brother. I have no words for what he has been through, or for the things he continues to battle easy day. For the past ten years or so, all we’ve had that we can truly count on, as siblings, is each other.

I remember the day he was born. The phone rang and I wasn’t pleased hearing I had a little brother. I was determined a sister would be coming home. And by determined, I mean adamant. There was simply no way anyone was going to convince me that a brother was a good thing.

We share the same birthday in neighboring months and our birth times are similar. We were born in the same hospital, but because the maternity ward had been moved and remodeled, our birth certificates state we were born in different zip codes.

I remember the day he came home from the hospital. He looked up at me from my mother’s arms and I was suddenly the most important person in his world. He knew exactly who to trust.

He would scream and cry whenever I was out of his visual field. I’d come running into the room and as soon as he saw me, he’d stop crying. He’d go from red-faced hysteria to laughter and giggles, because I always made him smile.

Up until a month ago, I hadn’t heard from my brother in four months. Every single day, I was convinced something horrible had happened and that I would soon get a call from a police officer or a coroner’s office. I was mentally prepared for the worst. What I got was an unfortunate shock I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But ultimately, the shock led to my brother being okay, and that is a relief.

A lot of people do not share close relationships with their siblings, for various reasons, and I understand that. But for me, my brother is the one person who will always have my back. He is someone who knows me really well. He’s one of my best friends.

I haven’t seen my brother in nearly two years, but nothing and no one can break the bond between us. He is the one living person who knows how to take the things I say. He knows when I’m truly being sarcastic, or when I’m simply making a statement. Even via text, my humor and delivery are not lost on him. He makes no assumptions with me because he actually knows me.

Together, and individually, we’ve been through a lot. It’s mind-numbing and disturbing to think about, but it’s life. Each of us is on a journey and for a while now, I’ve known that I somehow got dragged into my brother’s journey and life lessons. I wish I knew how to focus solely on myself, but I wasn’t raised to be selfish or to pretend that another person doesn’t matter. There are many people you walk away from, including family members, but I choose not to walk away from my brother because I know his heart. I don’t know one side to base my judgment on; I know the entirety.

I have the “luxury” of focusing solely on my health right now, but I know the odds aren’t in my favor. My brother has managed to survive quadruple bypass surgery, two operations due to staph infections, and several other procedures, all in less than two years. He has another treatment in a few months, and it scares me because I don’t trust it. I have a right to be concerned because as he pointed out “You’re the only one who truly cares.” He’s right, and knowing that angers the hell out of me.

Every family is different and each family’s dynamics are also going to be different. However, I was clearly raised right. I can go from zero to psycho in less than three seconds, but when it comes to most people, they simply aren’t worth it. My brother may not be of value to other “family members”, most of whom should be lined up and shot, but he’s of value to me because he’s MY brother. You don’t mess with what’s MINE, and that includes people. It may seem arrogant, but once you’re a part of my life and heart, I won’t allow you to be hurt by others.

I am proud of how far he has come, and I won’t allow anyone else to take the credit for it. He still has battles and challenges, and I will forever be a dragon slayer for him, if need be.

So today, on his birthday, I say “Welcome to the rest of your life. Don’t fuck it up.”

copyright © 2017 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

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Life’s Battles & Celebrations

Last year, the day after my birthday, my brother was diagnosed with congestive heart failure that required a quadruple bypass. It was an extremely scary time in which I functioned on G-d only knows what, and forced myself to remain strong through prayer and talking to people who did their best to emotionally support me through that horrible time.

Today, I celebrate my brother’s birthday. In the past year, through horrific battles that life has challenged us with, we have become a more united brother & sister. I’m proud of that. The ugliness and evil of others cannot destroy what he & I have built. It’s a horrible situation, but through bad, there is also good.

In the past year my brother has lived through three life-threatening operations and a horrific maze of challenges that have been cruel, harsh, evil, and vicious. I pray that this year is better to him; that promises made are promises kept, and that a year from now, we can laugh instead of cry.

As so many of us know, life itself can be a harsh task master. If you have the power to make someone’s life better, greater, happier, more secure, etc., even if only for a short period of time, then you should be selfless and act, not say one thing and do another. Life is SO short and none of us want to live with regrets. My father (May He Rest In Peace) spent most of his life not speaking to his brother. This would go on for five years, ten years, etc., until eventually my Uncle was 71 and dying from cancer. Instead of calling my father, I was the one to receive the call that my Uncle had cancer and didn’t have much longer to live. I had to break the news to my father and plan a day for the entire family to be together. They bonded in those last moments as though they’d never bonded before, and I know it gave them both a sense of peace. My Uncle passed away, and nearly two years later my father passed, from the exact same disease.

I’d slay dragons and demons to make sure my brother remains alive and in tact. I may very well have to do that; but today I thank all that is Holy that he is alive, that he has survived, and ultimately, that he is MY brother.

I know things are bad at the moment, M, but I am ALWAYS, ALWAYS with you.

Love,

Sis

“They tried to break us, but that didn’t work. And they tried to destroy us, but that didn’t work. They sent every form of evil our way, and still we stood tall. For that is the bond of this blood, once and for all.”  

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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A Myriad Of Thoughts

I begin this day by wishing my best friend Marion the happiest of birthdays. Not a lot of people can say they are a true friend of mine, but you can say “This is my best friend of 20 years.” There are marriages that don’t last nearly as long. We’re the lucky ones, and sometimes I think I am simply blessed to have you in my life.

You are part angel, part mother/sister/saint, one of the kindest people on the planet, a genuine, generous soul, the person who always has my back and my best interests at heart, and you’ve been my rock through some of the most difficult things I’ve had to endure in my life. Thank you for that, for all of it.

People often say that actions speak louder than words, but with me, my words are in sync with my actions. Know that I am grateful for you, day in and day out. You are an immense blessing, little pom. 🙂 XOXO.

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Where else are my thoughts at the moment? With an old friend, who is battling prostate cancer. I am glad he is surrounded by family and has the support of so many. Unfortunately, I, for the life of me, am having emotional difficulties with this particular situation. I think I am so inundated with my pain at the moment that I am only able to feel compassion and empathy for him, and that someplace, somewhere, over the past few years, I’ve forgotten that there was once love there. Here’s hoping I locate it.

I have some writing projects going on, and I am having difficulties focusing. This past Friday was a snow day, the weekend was beautiful and I pushed myself to really enjoy it, and then Monday was a snow day with barely any snow to speak of, but the schools were closed, the city was shut down, etc. And now, the days will be decent, but the nights will be “Lisa In Siberia”. My body can’t take much more of this insanity. My migraines have been torture and when that hasn’t been affecting me, I’ve had Fibromyalgia pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. The next time you overhear someone say it’s “not a real disease”, please send them my way so they can live in my body for a year. I’d love to remember what it’s like to walk without pain. I have been in so much pain that I’m embarrassed to say I’ve been falling asleep at crazy hours and taking naps. It is AWFUL to go through daily life feeling so sick and weak, but there’s not a lot I can do about it. I have to be patient with myself and remind myself that self-care is nothing to be ashamed of. Unfortunately, yes, it does make me feel wasteful where time is concerned.

Special thanks to Beauty Stat for starting my new venture off with a bang. 🙂 I am excited to try out the products they sent me (I’ve never been so surprised to see the UPS man. LOL.) and get my beauty loving butt back into the swing of things. There’s more to me than “writer” and “editor” and hopefully some of you will stop on by and give that side of me a try. I will let you all know once it is fully launched, as it is not linked or associated with this platform, but can still be found on WordPress. For those of you that figured it out via Twitter, thank you for being the first to follow me. It means so much. 🙂 XO.

I will be back and forth. I’m not abandoning anything or anyone, but I do have a lot of hours to put into fully launching my new project, not to mention all the education that comes with it. I look at that as a creative adventure.

If I’m not back before next week, know that I am writing.

Be well everyone!

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Yes, this is definitely Marion.

Misery Wants Company; But Misery Can Kiss My Ass

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I’m starting this the night before (Friday @ 8:30 PM EDT) because I don’t know how much writing I’ll be able to do tomorrow, mostly because migraines and lack of sleep have plagued my existence the majority of this week.

Tomorrow is Case Study #2’s birthday. I gave him three potential options for a really nice birthday dinner based solely on his past & current tastes, and things he has mentioned “really wanting” over the past month. Let the record state that NO ONE in history, be it family or friend, has ever cooked a birthday dinner for me, not unless it was a restaurant chef. At the last second, the plan that had been agreed upon became a huge fight. I think we can all safely agree that no man should ever piss off the woman who prepares 70% of his food. I decided to pretend he had a brain fart/age issue and wasn’t truly stupid enough to talk to me the way he did. So, off I went to the store this afternoon to procure the ingredients for said birthday dinner. By the time I got everything on my list, went through the self-checkout, because, believe it or not, the line was non-existent, and put it all in the car, I was ready to fall on the floor of the parking lot.

I left the store with a dull headache that slowly progressed into a migraine. My 23rd migraine, since the 5th of this month. I’m starting to lose my patience with Topamax. The side effects are ones I am used to, but they’ve been rough on me. I’ve been on 50 mgs successfully for a while now, so tonight I will increase it to 75. That means I already took 25 mgs and that I will soon take 50 mgs before bed. It’s not a great hardship, but remembering is half the battle. If there’s one thing I hate about Fibromyalgia, killer migraines, and stress, it is walking around mentally confused. I have yet to say “What day is it?”, but I do have days where I say “Not today. I need to rest my body.”

I have been sleeping like a jet-lagged monkey. Three hours here. Two hours there. Nothing consistent. This will continue until we turn the clocks back in November, which is woefully late considering it is already getting darker earlier each evening, and that is a huge part of what tells my body that it’s time to go to sleep. Darker mornings also mean that my body says “It’s still dark outside, we need to stay asleep.” Unfortunately, the mind does not always shut off when everything gets dark and quiet. Therein lies a huge problem.

26 September 2015~2:23 a.m. EDT

I slept for just under three and a half hours, waking up with an overactive brain. That quickly turned into post-migraine symptoms, which, if you’ve ever had a migraine, you KNOW is not a fun experience. I then found myself staring at Cat and Kitten who were quizzically inquiring as to my state of “If you’re not asleep, perhaps you’d like to feed us? Look how cute we are…” I honestly just want to go the fuck back to bed for eight hours and not be bothered by anything or anyone, but since I’m awake, I might as well accomplish something.

Laundry and pre-prepping Case Study #2’s birthday dinner are my first two orders of business. I can multitask like a boss.  😉 It will also give me time to decide what I want to say in his birthday card without resorting to “I’m sorry we’re related. I hope you never need a bodily organ.”

When it comes to certain family members, I believe they each have different roles they play in your life. We all have a family member we’d prefer not to acknowledge, or one we’re almost certain we might kill one day, if only by “accident”. I often say “I will kill you and tell God it was an accident.” The only problem is, I mean what I say.

In every family there is the peacekeeper, the overachiever/hero/prodigal child, the scapegoat, the outcast/black sheep/lost soul, and the mascot, etc. There are additional roles within the sibling hierarchy, but basically, this sums it up nicely and will have you looking at your own family if you’ve got more than a few siblings to speak of.

Not all families are like this, of course. In my family, the grandchildren were always compared to one another, as if our achievements defined us as individuals. I am the oldest on my mother’s side of the family, but I’d be introduced by my Grandmother long after she introduced my brother and his accomplishments. “This is my Grandson… He’s done this, this, this, this, this, speaks French, has an I.Q. of…oh, and this is his sister.” I would stare at her whenever she did it, because I didn’t see a need for such nonsense, and I let it slide. There was no need to argue with her or point out my own accomplishments, talents, or achievements. She didn’t understand them, so they didn’t matter to her. It didn’t mean she didn’t love me, she simply came from a different generation. I didn’t care about squeezing into the mold to suit people’s needs then, and I’m certainly not going to change now.

Where am I going with this? Case Study #2 is miserable to his core. Apparently turning another year older, turning profusely more grey by the day, looking more like Mr. Clean (He’d kill me if he saw this.), and looking forward to another year where he mistakenly gets taken for my father (Which cracks me up every.single.time.) somehow requires him to be a vicious animal. He is rude, offensive, disrespectful, unappreciative, and I am not having any part of it.

I’m having a difficult year and a few weeks ago his birthday gift “request” was somewhere in the ballpark of $750 before taxes, which in my mind, is a month worth of bills. I just stared at him, because there was no other normal reaction to have. Not once in my entire life have I ever gone so far as to demand (it truly wasn’t a “request”) such an expensive birthday gift from anyone. I am happy to receive books, CD’s, t-shirts, gift cards to my favorite stores that I never get to shop at because I spend my entire year working, etc. I have definitely received some amazing gifts over the years from generous family members, friends, and ex-boyfriends, but there are also years I went out and bought gifts for myself. I’ve never turned to a soul and said “I want THIS. You owe it to me.” NEVER. I’d like a navy blue Lexus for my birthday, but is it the most prudent gift in the world? No. I’d be happy with a nice pair of gloves and a matching scarf to get me through the coming Winter, or a really nice wallet. Something I actually need, and you can add up all of those things and they don’t even range anywhere within his “request” because I live in reality. No one owes me anything, people who give you gifts do so because they want to and because they can, not because you demand it of them.

I guarantee that a month from now, I won’t get so much as a card. Last year, he wished me a happy birthday and patted me on the head as if I was a dog. A few years ago I went away for my birthday so he wouldn’t ruin it. I didn’t get so much as a phone call. He, miserable bastard that he is, gets a beautifully cooked meal (I don’t keep rat poison on hand.) and one of his favorite desserts. I even got candles. I am a complete and utter moron. 😦

Misery may want company, but this year and from here on in, misery can kiss my ass.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Frazzled Saturday Mornings

After an extraordinary amount of sleep last night into this morning, I somehow managed to convince myself that today was:

A) Monday (Which is just plain EVIL, even though Monday is a holiday for me.)

B) Sunday (How the hell did I sleep so long?! I only took ONE Benadryl for my allergies!)

C) Another week entirely. (Yes, I know.)

It just goes to show you that stress really does manifest itself within the body and definitely within the mind. I did not want to get out of bed this morning, but I did it. The downside of that is that cat and kitten think they need to be fed PRONTO. I’m willing to negotiate with them, but there’s no way they’re being fed hours early simply because they run into the kitchen in the hopes of tripping me.

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Happy Birthday Miss Lucy! You’re one of my only friends who writes and can properly spell the word blonde. These are important things.

Before I forget, today is my friend Lucy’s birthday. Please visit her @ Blondewritemore and wish her a wonderful day. If nothing else, this is one weekend where I probably won’t have to chase her for calling me “Ma’am”. Try it and I will make you PAY.

Other things occurring this weekend? Minor Rosh Hashanah prep (Ask your local Rabbi or consult Google.). In my vast idiocy Thursday evening, I forgot a few things at the store, so I will either get them later today or sometime tomorrow. No one will die if there is a lack of zucchini, mushrooms, or candles, but I will personally lose my mind for forgetting something sweet. The Jewish New Year is basically an invitation to have a sweet (a piece of honey cake, an apple dipped in honey, etc.) to invite sweetness into the new year. Lord knows I could use some of that (sweetness in the new year), though I prefer chocolate because I’ve noticed that every last bit of honey in the store is processed (ie: fake). Some are more processed than others, and that’s unacceptable to me. It’s like handing me maple syrup that isn’t real, but trying to convince me it’s real when it’s flavored corn syrup. If I’d noticed the honey issue in advance, I would have ordered some from an Etsy store (which is straight from the beehive) so that I’d know it was real and healthier, but it’s too late, so I can only do my best. This explains why honey from the store is addictive.

I will be doing quite a bit of cooking today and tomorrow. In between, I am going to try resting my body because Thursday kicked the hell out of me in every possible way. There is not a muscle in my body that doesn’t feel bruised and battered. I will also be working on an important piece, one I’ve been working on all week, in fact. Here’s hoping I can complete it before tomorrow night.

Wishing you all a wonderful, relaxing Saturday.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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