My brother’s keeper…Am I?
Wherefore art thou Brother …
What if all you know came crashing down around you? You’re standing on the edge of a cliff, only to turn around and realize that it is a peak and the only to go is down? You hear a voice bellowing from afar. You peer off into the distance and see that your good friend, a brother is standing on a similar peak, but his is much higher. He calls for help, but there isn’t anything you can do. You’re absorbed in your dilemma, because you are just as helpless as he. You get angry with him because his bellowing highlights not only your inability to help him but yourself as well. So what do you do, you turn your back on him and clench your ears in your hand to drown out the noise. After sometime, you decide to check for footing to ease your way down the peak and gain a better position in your situation. You find it and follow the plan. Once you’ve reached better ground, you rest, nap, and rest again. You finally look over to call back out to your brother to hand advice only to realize he isn’t there. “He must’ve made,” you think, yet later you find out that he wasn’t so lucky.
I think of my old roommate often nowadays. For the sake of this blog I’ll call him Carburg. We grew very close over freshman and sophomore year. I was a little uncertain about him when I first met him, mainly because it was the first time that I had to share my room with anyone…let alone a guy. He was very different and that made me feel comfortable, because I consider myself odd. It was something comforting about his presence and I felt lucky to have been randomly placed with him. He was from New York and it was his first time down south. His mom was a saint, she just exuded nurturing. His mother sent him to alternative school in my state because she was afraid that he would get mixed up in the drugs and crime in the New York area; She’d been there her whole life. He then decided to stay and attend college in the near by city. He and I talked for hours about our interest and I began to see how similar we were. We were both nerds in our own right. He was heavily into theology, mainly because his alternative school was christian based. He would go on and on about his beliefs, the blessings we are awarded, and the state of the current world. His talks could make a person weary, but I listened and responded accordingly because he was so passionate; he was a good person with great intentions. He was so spiritual that he would read the bible constantly (and I mean constantly), so much so that he would put it over doing his school work or anything else for that matter. When he arrived upon a revelation within his reading he sounded with such a resounding Hmm! that it sent sparks of energy flowing through the room; it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck and my skin tingle. I respected his dedication, his persistence, his focus, and his godly heart. He was an undecided major, and now that I think of it, he should have majored in theology. He failed most of his classes due to his addiction, it consumed him.
The deeper Carburg went into his biblical studies, the more immersed he got. He became obsessed with the “end times” and constantly watched a program on TBN that professed that the end was near. He loved that program and kept coming back to it constantly like a weather forecast tracking a hurricane. Carburg then developed and Armageddon mindset that lead him to want to preach the gospel. He settled with attempting evangelistic work around campus to try to “save” our peers. He began to view people outside of our contained little room as avid sinners, who could blame him..they ridiculed him for his awkwardness and lashed out at him for his pure intentions. They laughed at him, made jokes at his expense. He began to go into reclusion, which was fitting because I did as well for my own reasons…my own problems. I couldn’t help but think, “should I go out and help him?”, but my views weren’t as strong as his. I spoke out against his Doomsday mentality (Matthew 24:36 no man knows the day or the hour), which he acknowledged but quickly rejected with his own findings with research. I gave up. I suspect he began to judge me and feel as though I was like everyone else. That hurt me…I had him over my house numerous times, when I saw the student body rise up against him I sought to get him off campus from time to time, and I even took him home with me when Katrina hit. As days marched on he retreated from me. He refused my outing invitations, so much so that he would cheerily say he was going then leave and NOT come back; so I would leave. One day I wanted to do a test, I waited 9 hours passed and he didn’t come back so I left. God knows where he went, it got so bad that on certain days he would leave in the middle of the night and not come back. He began to indulge in books about spirits/demons, recognizing them, and the influence they have over our lives. He grew into a religious radical (at-least in views and opinion). It worried me, but what could I say…it was his religious point of view.
The Down Turn
Our sophomore year, me and Carburg hit a pitfall. We both fell into depression for our respective reasons. I was preparing to withdraw from my University and so was he. It was like our room became negagenerator and our troubles reflected in the view of each other. That following spring break, I left him on campus despite my feelings that he should get away from campus. Part of the reason is that I was annoyed with people and wanted to be by myself, and the other reason is that I figured that he would not take my offer. Towards the end of spring break I felt better, I decided that I would try to encourage Carburg when I got back to campus. The first few days of class, he wasn’t on campus. Teachers asked me about his status in a dreary tone. One day that week I was sitting in my room when he finally walked in the door. I found out that he was checked into a mental hospital. He told me about his experience when he left, he was completely himself at the time. He told me that all of a sudden, he forgot who he was (name and all) and where he was. He said that he then went around campus imitating whomever he saw and behaved irregularly. Staff called his mother and she drove 19 hours from New York to check on him. He was just stopping back by the room to collect some of his things before going to his follow-up appointment. I wish I’d known that that would be the last time I would get to see him as I remembered him…
Brother is that you….?
I got a call a week later from Carburg’s counselor. She told me that his mother was found dead within her condo and asked if I would show my support to Carburg that weekend. I was floored, I didn’t even want to asked what happened. I asked if Carburg knew and she said that they’d just told him the day they told me. She died while he was boarded in the Hospital again. They said that he was either in shock or so heavily bogged down with medication, that he was not “feeling” anything and was quite mellow. I was told about the funeral and asked to show my support and ofcourse I said yes. At the funeral, I sat 4 pews away as Carburg sat a shadow of himself beside his sister and father. I could not come close to fathoming what he was mentally going through. When the funeral was over, I finally got a chance to see Carburg (accompanied by his Counselor) walk up to him to talk. I was hurt…his eyes were so vacant. He barely recognized me… after 2 years of rooming he need a Counselor to remind him of who I was (One reason that I am not in favor of psychological medications). He began to liven up as much as anyone reduced to the most basic form of emotions could by regaling me of our time together. It was odd that he spoke of it as if it was our 10th year reunion. I wept…what else could I do? I hugged him and called him my brother, his response was cold ( ofcourse I don’t fault him…but still). Years later I still talk to him…yet the story got worse. His family and friends keep him at a distance ( because of his mental condition). At one point I thought he might have been a paranoid schizophrenic. I want to believe, however; that he is fine. I talked to him last week, he is still confused on certain topics; but I was hopeful because after 6 years we finally had a normal conversation. He was not frantic or panicky, he was coherent and consistent. I hope to always remain his friend. He is a good person.