JoAnn Dearden shares her very powerful story of unconditional love and forgiveness. I thank her for telling this very personal and deeply moving story so that each of us can grow.
Growing up with my older brother Rich was difficult. When he became a teenager his personality changed. He became mean and arrogant and completely disowned me as a sister. When Rich went off to college, the whole family would go to move him in or out of his dorm. We would go up to his dorm room, he would introduce my parents and younger brother to his friends but he never introduced me. My Dad would say what about your sister? His answer was, “I don’t have a sister.”
When he was in his early 20’s he bought himself a Corvette. He pulled it up in my parent’s driveway and we all admired it. My Dad asked him to let me drive it up the cul-de-sac and back into the driveway so I can get a little bit of a thrill. He adamantly said “No.” Dad pleaded with him but Rich’s final answer was, “Jo Ann will never drive my car.”
To this day, I still don’t know why he hated me so much. He was a bitter, angry man and no one ever knew why.
When I got married, he suddenly became my best friend. Why? I didn’t trust this new attitude of Rich’s and my husband and I felt it would be best if we moved to a different part of the state so that I wouldn’t be subjected to any more abuse.
This past spring, life took a very bad toll on Rich. April 28th, my mother and younger brother found him on the floor in his home in renal failure. He was rushed to the hospital where I visited him one to two times a week. His condition fluctuated and eventually was admitted to intensive care. On May 18th, I was with him in his room and he started complaining about back pain. As the pain got worse, he asked for the nurse and a doctor. His breathing intensified and respiratory was called to help him breathe. He was crashing right in front of me. I was asked to wait in the waiting room while they worked on him. A few minutes later, a nurse told me they were going to intubate him. I asked them to please let me see him before they put him unconscious.
I went back in the room. He was breathing so hard the mask was blowing off his face. I said to him that since they were going to put him in “la-la land” I was going to go home because I had a 2 hour drive ahead of me. He nodded his head then pulled the mask off his face and said, “Jo Ann…thank you…thank you.” And then his head dropped. Rich never woke up and died 6:15 the next morning.
Rich knew right then I loved him no matter what. Whatever it was that kept us apart all our life, it was in those final moments we were able to forgive and share our love. God’s hands were on us in those final moments. It’s never too late to forgive.
JoAnn Dearden is the founder of Copywriting For A Cause.