Shawn Michael

 In Weekly Forum Discussion, Writer in Residence

Written by: Collette Cottingham; Creatively Hip


For this week’s discussion topic, I am celebrating my brother. At times it seemed like he lived to drive me nuts. He jumped out yelling “boo,” turned my air mattress over— sending me into the water, or blocking the TV so I couldn’t change the channel.

Yet it was all for love and friendship. A sibling bond that would stand the test of time. In all relationships, you have to put in the work and carve out time for each other. Even in the midst of busy lives. You both need to make an effort.

My brother had obstacles, pain and heartache. Which is a natural part of life. But these events sent him on a dark path. I tried to help him, but he had to want a change in order for help to be successful.

Right when you believe it can never happen it did. It was like a light switch on the wall. He woke up and left his old life behind.

I admire his strength and determination. He is proof it can be done…My brother moved six hours away, got a new job and moved in with my grandma. Soon he saved enough for a car and a place of his own.

Within a few years, he became a husband and father. He is a completely new man. My brother is an amazing husband, father, son and friend. He will truly give you the shirt off his back.

He was in a car accident a few years back. When others heard about the crash they descended on the hospital. The place was full of friends, neighbors, family and coworkers. I was very emotional and scared. Yet filled with happiness at the life my brother created.

My brother survived and left the hospital full of love and forgiveness. It took a few months, but he happily returned to work. Some of his memories are gone, but he lets us fill in the blanks. The memories might be gone, but the love, respect and admiration are still there.

I am eternally grateful for my brother. He is a good man. He doesn’t have an unkind word to say about anybody. I have never heard him raise his voice. He is a gentle soul. My brother offers love and support to those around him.

My brother’s wife switched to a vegan lifestyle. My brother switched too. He wanted to support her. When people have full support they have a better chance of success. Her success and happiness is his success and happiness.

In many of life’s moments he has been there. The good and bad. He helps to remind me I am never alone, and that I come from a long line of strong women. If you have a rough day he is there with a bike, or sometimes it’s an invitation for a walk. Exercise changes the mood. Out in nature, the mind clears and you are going to be okay.

My brother thought I needed a change of scenery. A girl who had never left her country did. My brother and his family took me to Germany.

My brother was right. There in Bavaria my healing begin. The people there were so kind and friendly. I felt love every day.

My brother does take time for himself. He loves to geocache. Geocaching is where you use coordinates to locate an object. Then log that you visited the site.

It can be annoying at times. We were on a mountain top enjoying the scenery. I looked over and my brother was on the hunt. I started to feel annoyed, but I changed my energy. I asked what we were looking for. My brother said,  “Something that looks out of place.” Well, that was helpful! I spotted a tan rock that looked weird among the snow and ice. My brother got excited, “Way to go Collette.”

I was smiling in unison with him. I enjoyed our geocaching time. I am not annoyed by it anymore. I enjoy watching my brother and celebrating with him. I love seeing him happy. I am thankful for my brother and his family for giving me such a beautiful healing experience.

My brother’s love transcends all. He wouldn’t let me give up on myself.
He pushed me, kept me moving. One evening in Germany I was feeling sorry for myself, “ How will I live?” He once again reminded me, I had a place to live as long as he was alive.

I still didn’t believe him. I wasn’t ready yet. But the trip was very special. I felt like a part of my brother’s family. I got to observe him as a husband and father. What a gracious man. I am blessed to call him brother.

I am so thankful for his encouragement and support. He has been that way since childhood. I was just too annoyed with him to see it. I am appreciative for this man in my life.

And even today if we are on the lake he turns my air mattress over sending me into the water…this he remembers!



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