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Am I My Brother's Keeper?

We all make mistakes. Some mistakes hurt only us, and some mistakes hurt others.

When our parents divorced in the wake of a church scandal, I thought I was doing good by protecting my emotionally fragile mother. My younger brother, however, was also hurting--and my mom had a way of poking at his wounds.

I took Mom's side. I told Shaun to forgive.

In the process, I didn't allow myself to hear his pain. He had wounds from both our parents, and I added to them. I was the big brother, trying to hold everything and everyone together, but my aloof responses only shoved his pain down deeper.

I am sorry, Shaun. Yes, we are brothers and best friends.

I want to do better.

These last few years, as my sister, Heidi, and I did the primary writing of American Leftovers, Shaun dictated his scenes to us over the phone. Only later did I realize we had skimmed over some of his personal points of pain. Writing is such an intimate journey, and we owed it to Shaun and to others involved to do a better job.

From the beginning, we knew the book's entire purpose was rooted in hope and reconciliation, so it seemed imperative for us to add more layers to his story. As the managing editor of the process, I didn't get it all right, but the finished book is a lot closer to fleshing out Shaun's side of the story.

We have grown closer and learned more about each other in this process.

We will keep doing so.

I love Shaun and am so thankful for his voice added to our family story. As we all wrote together, more things surfaced, things we had buried or mixed up. We all discovered stuff we had never known, and we all revealed incidents never before shared.

Shaun, Heidi, and I are more than leftovers, and keeping the sibling bond strong means everything to me. No matter what happens with our book, we are family. That has never changed.

--Eric Wilson

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