My younger brother and I are sitting at a table with a very large, tasty looking turkey in front of us, just waiting to be destroyed. The smell of freshly roasted turkey instantly makes my mouth water like a Pavlovian responses, uncontrollably salivating in anticipation. My wife at my side, smiling and feeling such joy and love . We get ready to dig into this delicious looking bird. Family surrounds us. You can feel pure love and faith in the room. Then we all put on our plastic gloves and start to rip all the meat off the bones.
This is the first time I have seen my younger brother in nearly 18 months! It’s the day before Thanksgiving. We’re at a charity event to donate a Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless. We sit at a table surrounded by men and their families. Men who where once severely broken, helpless and without hope or faith. All gathered today to help others who are in the same current state of despair.
My younger brother fell victim to an evil that has taken many lives and destroyed many families. A soul-taking demon that survives on pain, negativity, anguish and fear. Opioids were the devil on my brother’s shoulder for nearly ten years. Ten years of pure pain, destruction, anger, sadness and hopelessness. Except this little demon did not count on love; it did not count on my faith! I’m not talking about your modern day way of faith, such as Sunday morning acoustic jam session to classic Christmas songs while wearing your flip-flops and large gaudy cross jewelry. I’m referring to the faith that one human being can have in another. It only takes one person, one soul to know that there is potential and not to ever give up on someone, no matter how low they fall, no matter how big that demon gets on their shoulder, no matter how much they lied or stole or hurt you. If you know that persons true nature, their real soul, not the one cloaked by negative energy, then you maintain faith in them. I wasn’t going to let my family be destroyed.
So many people threw in the towel and dismissed him. You see this nearly everyday if you live in any larger city. The majority of the homeless are that way because their friends and family gave up on them. They threw in the towel before they had a chance to make a come back. One person’s faith in another human being can change the world! By showing love, compassion, support, encouragement and faith you show them that they matter. Honesty is key and sometimes they will want to hate you for it. But that doesn’t last forever. They will thank you for it later.
I knew my brother needed help and that I couldn’t do it alone. To make matters worse, we lived on the other side of the country. I looked into rehab centers and soon learned that the majority were all for profit and mostly just wanted to make money. How can you solve a ten-year or life-long problem in 30, 60 or even 90 days? So it’s great business to have a repeat customer who relapses. These programs run anywhere from $10-30K a month. Regardless of this, I had to do something. I still had hope and faith in my brother. I decided to pay for his recovery. I thought to myself, If my brother dies because I wanted to save money then I would regret it the rest my life. Together with my amazing wife we made the decision to pay for his recovery at any cost, despite what I recently learned about these rehab centers.
During my research I called many, many, many rehab centers. Coincidentally I just served on a jury, in a case that was all about drug addiction and drug dealers. So I was well versed on the subject. One day I received a phone call back from a place called “The Beacon House,” a non-profit, adult rehab facility based in southern California. They would take my brother on the caveat that he first, be willing, second be detoxed (not easy), third, can find transportation. I spoke to him everyday during his most challenging times. I always came from a place of love because I knew his true nature. I knew he was good. He just got tricked, like many others. So for that, I had faith. He made the call, did the grueling self detox, and our father drove him six hours to the house. We had no idea what to expect until the moment he said good-bye to our dad. One of the main counselors at the house asked, “Do you have any cash? We have a store where you can buy miscellaneous supplies (snacks and toiletries).” Negative, he responded. My Dad chimed in, “here’s a hundred dollars”. Instantly the counselor gently put his hand out towards my Dad and said “he’s taken enough from you, he’ll figure it out” and my Dad put the money back in his wallet. That’s when I knew he was in the right place!
The Beacon House come’s from a place of love, faith, trust and respect. Each month I would call to get updates on my little brother. We were not allowed to have any communication with him during this time. It was his time to grow and our time to heal. I kept the faith during this time and even now. My younger brother now has a real opportunity at a life because now he believes in himself. Love can change the world. It only takes the love of one person, which is extremely powerful. I believe that same love can power the earth if harnessed properly.
One evening, as I sat on a NYC rooftop, enjoying some wine and discussing my future with a business partner, I received a call. It was a random number that showed up as “Compton” on my phone. I normally decline these and send them to voicemail. Not this time…I felt something special at the moment. I answered the call. “Hi, Greg, this is your brother. Is this a good time for you to talk, if not I can call back when it’s more convenient for you?”
“Yes, I’ve been waiting for this call,” I said. The truth is, I’ve been waiting for this call for over 20 years.
“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for not listening to you, I know you only wanted to help me. I know you always gave me good advice and I didn’t listen. You were only trying to help me and I was a bad brother to you. Do you forgive me?” He said.
I’m listening to him speak. He’s polite, respectful, honest and genuine. Almost robotic like, as if he rehearsed and practiced this moment over and over. I can hear the change in him. I can feel his positive energy over the phone. I can feel his love once again. My real brother has surfaced for good this time.
My response came naturally.
“Brother, I forgave you the moment you decided to go there and make the change. You’re forgiven and I love you.”
“I love you too.”