A few days ago, I was was thumbing through my grandmother’s writings, and found this poem. It’s an interesting perspective about supporting, but not giving up one’s life to accommodate another’s needs.

Following my accident, I became acutely aware of how most of my friendships were one-way, including my relationship with family. Only one cousin, who I scarcely knew, and her amazing daughter came to my “rescue,” sending much needed advice and offering more than “thoughts and prayers.”

Am I my brother’s keeper?
If I must carry him on my back, no I must be unburdened
free to make my life visible and productive.

Am I my brother’s keeper?
If I must give him hours of my days and strength
Of my limbs, so he may ease his way through life, no.
I have my own hard road to travel, my own goals to reach.
And my days are not without number.

Am I my brother’s keeper?
If I must stand in the shadows so he may bask in the light, no.
I am a somebody.
I have my own place in the sun or my spirit will wither and die.

But… I can’t plant a seed, thresh the wheat or bake my own bread.
My brother can.

I can’t weave the cloth to clothe my body, build the roof
Over my head, mix the magic potions to heal my wounds.
My brother can.

I can’t write the songs to lighten my heart and lift my spirits.
I can’t beat the drums to set my feet a’ dancing.
My brother can.

When I walk in the night, filled with fear of the darkness,
I need the touch of another’s hand to bring me reassurance.
As I wander in the bright of day, I need to hear the
Sound of another’s voice to tell me I’m not alone.

When my heart is full, and sadness descends upon me,
I need someone to listen to the outpourings of my soul.
My brother is there.

My life is entwined with that of another fellow-being.
If I’m to survive, he must survive.

So, I will walk before him to clear the path.
I will walk beside him and lend a hand to push the plow.
I will walk behind him and catch him if he stumbles.
But, I will not carry him on my back.
For if I should break under the might of him, we both shall die.

And I my brother’s keeper?
No, I’m his helper,
free to move in full stride and make my life.

Rose Ridnor