I have thought about writing this post many times. I have debated whether or not to make this a part of the story I tell as I move into the next phases of my life. I have wrestled with maintaining the privacy of myself and my family and the idea that I carry this burden with me into the world regardless. I have decided that if I am going to tell this story, I am going to tell it right. Here is the story of my baby brother.
As long as I can remember, Kalen and I have been two parts to one whole. When we were behaving particularly naughty, my parents would remind us that we were more closely related to each other than we were to either of them! That is truly how growing up felt. Kalen and I fought like siblings do, but it was because we understood each other. The only reason he could get under my skin was because he knew what made me tick and vice versa. We were tuned into each other. We may not have ever seen eye to eye, but we cared for each other in a way that only siblings can, in the only way we knew how.
Kalen is the softy and I am the tough one. Words could rarely hurt me, but they cut him like knives. He struggled to wrestle with emotions that were so much bigger than himself, and I was always there when he need to bare his soul and all its doings. We had a policy: I didn’t need to hear from him every day, but if he called, I answered and if he texted, I texted back. No questions asked. No situation excluded. I was meant to take the tough emotions from people and make them a little more manageable, and he had the emotion to give. I love my role as big sister, and it fit me well. But now, things have changed a little bit.
On August 6th, 2018, 8 days before I was set to leave for orientation, my baby brother (who ended up being between 6 foot 2 inches and 6 foot 4 inches) was killed in a motorcycle accident in our hometown. To make matters worse, my family and his girlfriend were looking for him when we all came upon the scene. August 6th, my brother was ripped away from this world and my family in such a tragic way that I still have trouble describing what this lose feels like. At the time of writing this, we are about two weeks removed from the accident, and there are still moments where it feels like I am learning about it all over again.
So, what does this mean for Rwanda. I know some of you are wondering how I could even think of my year in a time like this. But the truth is, I have, a lot. I have thought about what it means for me to stay and what it means for me to go. Here is the truth. The truth is that nothing will bring my brother back, not staying and not going. The truth is that I don’t know if I will be able to handle a new place when everything I am used to here feels like I am encountering it for the first time. The truth is that my heart of hearts wants to see what Rwanda has to teach me and wants me to bring my brother with to see the world. The truth is that there is no right answer, so we’re taking this one step at a time.
I will deploy in a month if all goes according to plan. I will spend that month with my family, preparing them in whatever ways I can so that I may journey with their love and blessing. I will give myself over to God or the Universe or Mother Earth and I will allow myself to exist in this limbo and see what I can learn from it. But most importantly, I know that Kalen walks with me now, into eternity.