The Ring

His health had deteriorated to the point of the doctors saying there was no hope. Now all he could do was wait. Wait to die.

His mother had left the family when he was a teenager and he had never recovered from that lost love. All of his life he had looked for it in career, sports, women and recreation. He never found it. His relationship with his dad was never good and over time, he became bitter and passive aggressive to those around him. When people tried to correct his thinking, demonstrate their love, or just be themselves he hardened his heart towards them thinking they just didn’t understand. No one was good enough.

He tried harder to do better. There was always room for improvement. Work harder. Accomplish the tasks. "To hell with people. The mission was the important thing anyway," he thought. In the end he alienated all, and became best friends with loneliness and isolation.

His younger brother had always loved him, but had given up on breaking through. He too, was scarred by the past and had his own pathology to live with. Now, as the older one lay dying, he came to see him.

They met on a Saturday afternoon, not having seen each other in over a year. Neither knowing what to say, they sat, mostly silent. When it was time for the younger brother to leave, he blurted out words he knew he had to speak. It could be his last chance, “I don’t really know what love is. I can’t define it or defend it. For years we’ve been a dysfunctional family. You, me, dad. But we’ve been a family. We can’t change our bloodline. It is what it is. I accept you just as you are, I want you to know that. You’re my brother” He turned to walk out the door.

“Wait,” the older brother said, “Wait…..I don’t know what it is either.... love I mean, but…….you’re right. Our family is what it is. All these years I tried to make it something else. I hated you since that day he gave you that party. I thought he loved you; but not me. I knew he did love me, I just couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel is what it is.”

The younger brother walked back into the room. He slowly took the ring off his finger, the ring he had worn since that day. He put it in the palm of his brother’s hand. “Here, I’ve thought about giving you this for years. But I didn’t think you would take it, or I thought you would think I was giving it to you for the wrong reasons. It’s token of my love for you.”

“A ring doesn’t mean you love me.”

“No, it doesn’t. The action of giving it though says something about where my heart is.” He left.

The older brother couldn’t hold back the tears. He closed his hand around the ring, feeling it….feeling the metal shaped in a circle. Feeling. He cried for a long time. Then he fell asleep.