“Prison gives me all the time in the world to write, and there are many papers hounding me to write for them,” chuckled my older brother Jim while attending our Father’s funeral prayers. Jim was escorted by two plain-clothed, armed police officers.
Today, June 29th, is his birthday and I realize I have no idea how old he is; not a clue. Jim exclaimed to the world for years that he’d never see his 40th birthday. Week’s prior to it, in the early 1990’s, he committed suicide.
I was told the last words he uttered while being lifted into the ambulance, in Victoria, was his name. Under the influence of a mixture of windshield washer anti-freeze and Coca-Cola, he managed to tell the paramedics his name, “I am James Joseph Dolan.”
I opened my life to receive love on my birthday yesterday – June 28th – and during the day, while bathed in love, I wondered who would remember Jim today. Would anyone wish him a happy birthday?
I don’t remember much about him. He was the brother responsible for my sexual abuse so I have done a lot of work to reconcile my past connected to that, especially since the double-edged sword for little gay boys of sexual abuse is they enjoyed it at times. That was my experience, terror and pleasure. It took me a long time to work through that dynamic.
Jim was gorgeous. When I think of the only picture I can conjure up in my mind to remember him, because I have no photos, it’s this image that has me think of a young Rock Hudson. Plus, the group of young male friends he hung out with was equally beautiful. For a little gay boy I always remember looking forward to seeing Jim’s friends.
Jim was cast as a ‘bad’ Dolan. He attempted suicide at a much younger age. His scars across his wrists were always scary to look at, but I always had this desire to ask him ‘why’, but I never did. The entire Dolan Tribe taught me never to ask questions.
His athletic prowess was amazing. His sense of style meticulous, and his ability to share some of the wittiest moments I can remember in my childhood still make me smile.
It’s like he had it all. Talent, brains, athleticism and a presence you could feel when he walked into the room. Yet I related to him on another level as well, one I never spoke of; I sensed his profound sadness and a huge undercurrent of anger.
Jim was one of five older Dolan’s, two other brothers, and two sisters. He was the baby of the group. I was one of the younger Dolan’s, two brothers and two sisters. There was no interaction between these groups and up until today I never realized the connection we held. He always seemed so alone and I felt the same way.
During my years of healing from sexual abuse I heard countless theories that the ‘perpetrator’ more than likely had the same thing happen to them. Although I was blessed to find great support and summon the courage to share my story of being abused by Jim, yesterday it dawned on me how he may not have been able to do that if someone did the same thing to him. My heart ached.
Who was or was not in his life that made no room for that little boy to reach out for help? What happened on his birthday, just like it did on mine, which had him choose to never celebrate his day of birth?
Today, he has no voice. He chose to silence himself, all possibly to stop hearing or feeling the pain he had to endure. Yesterday amidst the waves of love that I let in on my birthday, I felt this tremendous sadness for my brother who may have never experienced that in his lifetime.
I acknowledge I have every intellectual reason not to breathe a word of his memory for the atrocities he committed, not just to me but to others as well. Yet deep within me, within my compassionate heart, I felt him yesterday and felt a need to energetically share him with the world.
I’ve read that when one person heals, another person grows. I continue to heal my life; I choose healing everyday. Yet yesterday between listening to happy birthday being sung to me, opening a gift, replying to every Facebook birthday wish and blowing out birthday candles, I sensed the growth my brother attained even though he chose to leave.
When I met his girlfriend, whom he shared four years of his life with, at the Victoria airport to support her in arranging Jim’s funeral, Sheryl said, “I’ve never met a gay person before.” I held her and suggested, “Maybe you have, but you just haven’t known.”
She pulled away and said, “Jim told me about you. Your courage, your getting married and coming out, and your strength.“ She went on to say, “He related to you. He looked up to you.” With a blank stare she added, “I’m just remembering now, he told me that maybe he was gay.” I opened my arms and welcomed her into a loving embrace.
As I whispered, “Happy birthday brother,” I felt an energetic connection to Jim I’ve never felt since saying good-bye to his body sometime in early 1990’s.
By acknowledging him today, his growth, I am able to heal. I think he would have been 61.