Have you ever had a feeling that you should do something? A prompting to act even when it is completely out of your comfort zone? This was me last week.
All the insecurities I’ve acquired over a lifetime of rejection from those that I once loved. I knew they had lived with the same monster I had. Just knew they knew more than what they were telling the authorities. Yet, my mother and step-family never confessed the truth. My thoughts would echo to the phrase I once heard, “Just give up Shawna there is no one to help.” So far they had been right. Then I’d pray and read my scriptures and remember all the wonderful people who have tried to help. And I’d feel courageous and believe there were more out there, I just needed to press forward.
All week I kept having the prompting to find Julius. Who is Julius? Julius was my little brother. My birth mother had 4 children she brought into that marriage with my step-father. He had four children that he had brought in too. Julius was his youngest. Dawna and I, my twin sister, where her youngest. Julius was six months younger than we were. And we were the best of friends. We looked out for each other…. Well, the best that we could. I had a bond as close to him at that time as I did with Dawna. We were very close and I loved him like I loved my twin. The day my step-father left was a huge relief to me. I knew Dawna and I would be safe. But, I couldn’t shake the helpless deep seeded sadness that I felt and have felt my whole life over the fact that we could not take Julius with us. It was almost as if my birth mother found joy in his sorrow, in our sorrow…. Perhaps some kind of victory for her because I had taken away the lifestyle she loved by what she called, “My big mouth.” We hung out with Julius and Cindy, my other stepsister, a few times after the divorce. But, we quickly moved back to Utah. I didn’t hear from him until I was in high school, then I got to see him once. It was too short of a meeting.
All week last week I kept having this prompting to find him. The faithless part of me kept thinking, ‘Ya right, I’ll find him.’ I’d chuckle with frustration at the thought because I had tried to find him. A lot as a matter of fact. Each time I asked I was told I couldn’t talk to him. The first time was by Becky, my birth mother, she smirked and smugly said, “You can’t talk with him. He’s in a mental institution.” Of course, she didn’t know which one. The next time he was in prison. I actually wrote him a few times there. The next time, he was in yet another mental institution. When Becky’s cackling voice told me that for the second time, I was actually bold enough to tell her, “If he is, it’s because you and John put him there. I’m surprised all of your children aren’t there.” Again she would smirk that same smirk of victory. I stopped talking with her after I had my own children. I didn’t feel they were safe with her. And I knew that no amount of Love I tried to give would change the destructive choices she deliberately took in her life. But, I didn’t give up on Julius.
The next time I went looking for him I asked my stepfamily. They said they didn’t know, they believed him to be homeless in San Francisco. They hadn’t heard from him. The next time, they said, “Prison in Hawaii.” The next time after that, “Prison in Canada.”
‘Ya right,’ I thought to myself, ‘I was going to find him now. How? How would I possibly find him?”
Then the fighting side of me came out again I told myself ‘ok I can do this. I’ve done hard things before.’ I called my step sisters again to ask. However, when I did the only phone numbers I had were no longer working.
‘Ya right, you’ll never find him.’ The doubt inside of my head echoed. With 40 years of frustration boiling over, I fought the feeling to do more. I wanted to scream. How much more could I do? When will this stop?
Then I decided to fight again. ‘Keep going…’ I searched on the internet. Thinking to myself, if Moses parted the Red Sea (1) surely I could find a number if prompted to do so. Guess what? After hours of searching and a lot of fighting back and forth with the fictitious angels I had whispering on either side of my shoulder one whispering encouragement the other whispering facts you’ve never been able to find him, you won’t this time either. But, guess what? I first found his ex-wife’s number. A girlfriend’s number. Then my two step sister’s new numbers. One was now living in another state. I knew she probably wouldn’t want to talk to me. But, I left messages on both of their phones anyway, asking them where Julius was and if they would please call me back with that information.
They didn’t call me back. So again I had that internal battle, my head swirled like a whip lashed victims’ ‘Call Shawna.’
‘No Shawna don’t they won’t answer, they don’t want to talk to you.’ Back and forth my thoughts raced.
‘Call Shawna, find Julius.’ Well, finally the prompting to call won. I just couldn’t shake the feeling to find Julius. So I called again and left another message for my step sister. And she called me back. We talked for about an hour. She was always kind to me when we were growing up and though I have gotten frustrated with them in the past for not sharing what I believed they knew to be true. A big part of me understood. I have a fear of my stepfather and what he would do to me and my family if I told, saw it firsthand. It was so ingrained upon my heart that it sometimes controlled my very actions. And I only lived with the man for 5 years. They spent a lifetime with him. I understood how afraid they must have been.
She gave me Julius’s number. Told me he was out of prison and doing well. She even sent me a picture.
My two stepsisters and Julius
Debbie, Jackie, and Julius
I can’t even express to you how wonderful it was to see that picture. He looked healthy and happy in it. Quite different from the scared little brother I was forced to leave behind. I’d spent years crying because his life had been so hard. It just didn’t seem fair. But, somehow that picture brought me peace. I called him, I hope he calls me back. I pray that he will. Will you pray with me?
Debbie did tell me that my stepfather had passed away. He died of Prostate cancer a year or so ago. That brought me some relief. Now Hell could deal with him, which is where he strived his entire life to go in the end. But, I just can’t give up. Not now. If they find the bodies in our old home. I just know they will find more in other places he has lived. He loved what he did and would not have ever stopped killing. There are still so many of his victims’ family and loved ones out there wondering. My birth mother is still alive. My older brother is still alive and they were as guilty as John they knew and they helped him.
My point in sharing this experience is we all have those inner battles to do what’s right and yet another to act out of fear. Though it is hard and we may not see the result immediately we will always feel the peace after we have made the right choice. Life is hard for all of us. But, it’s also great if we give those good prompting the chance to be a part of our lives. We are always blessed. There will always be a calm after the storm and we will be standing that much stronger in the end.
(1) Bible, Old Testament; Exodus 14.