Love In The Midst This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "What is that weeping noise?" my Uncle David thought to himself. He had been watching TV when he had heard the distracting sounds. When he went to check, he discovered my brother Minh, lying, bleeding on his front porch.

It was a dark Saturday night in Santa Ana. That night my family had a big celebration for my dad's fortieth birthday. Adults were drinking and singing while we kids were playing outside. My brother had drank too much and decided to go to sleep. When the party ended, my brother wasn't anywhere, so we assumed Minh had gone to my grandparents' house. Before I went to bed, my mom came into my room to say good-night. I asked her, "Aren't you going to call Grandma's house to see if Minh is there?"

"Just forget about him," my mom replied.

I was very concerned. I could hear from her voice that she was, too. She was thinking about the incident with Minh the week before ... he had gotten drunk, and taken drugs with a friend. He came home that night and started hallucinating, seeing visions of someone shooting him, so he ran around the house, screaming and crying. It woke the entire family up. My parents had warned him that if he did this again he'd be kicked out of the house. Though Minh promised he never would, I knew he couldn't keep his promise. I fell asleep, feeling something terrible had happened to my only brother.

A little after 12:30 a.m., my family and I were awakened by a thunderous pounding at the front door. We opened the door to find my Uncle David.

"What is it? What is wrong, David?" my dad asked, looking very concerned.

"It's Minh," my uncle said breathlessly.

My brother had gotten drunk at my dad's party so he decided to go to sleep. Because of the drowsiness, he began feeling weird and worthless, so he called his friends to pick him up. He decided to tell his friends that he didn't want to be involved with the gang anymore, so he told them to "jump" him out. (When you affiliate with a gang, you have to be "jumped" into it, which means being beaten for a certain amount of time to show you have guts. When you decide to not be in the gang anymore, you have to get "jumped" out also.) And so they did. When they were done, they threw him off at my Uncle David's house. He was injured from head to toe. My uncle had discovered him lying on his front porch, desperately in pain.

"W-e-l-l is he okay? Where is he?" my mom cried. She broke down and was on her knees.

"We have to take him to the hospital," Uncle David, "He's bleeding badly."

"Where is he?" my brother-in-law Loc asked. "I'll go warm up the car."

Before anybody could say anything, Loc and David disappeared out into the streets. My mom knelt in the dark living room, in front of Jesus' cross, crying to him for help.

"Oh Lord, Jesus Christ," my mom cried, "Why do you do this to me? What have I done to deserve this? Why are my children so bad? Can't you just let me die in peace?"

There she was, kneeling on the ground. Her hair covered her face, hiding her features from us. I could feel her burden and sorrow as I sat in that living room.

On the other side of the living room was my oldest sister Diep. There she sat, with a grumpy and tired look, saying:

"It's his fault. That's what he gets for drinking too much. Why are you all acting like this? He does it all the time. It's nothing new. Just forget about him. Let him die. He already screwed up his life. I don't know why you are still allowing him in this house."

After she finished, I wanted to smack her across the face. I thought she was so inconsiderate, she was being a total hypocrite. I wanted to say to her, "And what about you? Who started to mess up her life in junior high, ran away in eighth grade and began skipping school her sophomore year? Who was unable to finish high school, and ended up having a kid by the end of her senior year? Who is married and unhappy with two kids?" I had so much anger inside of me, but I kept quiet.

My dad was in the kitchen looking tired and confused. He motioned to my mom and they began making telephone calls. My dad usually never said a word when these incidents occurred. I could hear all the telephone conversations from where I was sitting in the living room. They made the calls to my family doctor, the private investigator, and my brother's probation officer. There wasn't much said.

Suddenly, a voice began to speak - "Where is Minh? Is he okay?"

"It's okay, Julie, go to bed," my mom urged.

"Fine then ..... how r-r-u-u-dd-e!" and stomped off into the dark hallway.

I was glad that my younger sister was not aware of the incident. She was only nine, and would have been scared and unable to sleep. My mom, dad, and I remained in the living room. We were silent, thinking. We sat in the darkness, waiting to hear news ...

During that time, I began thinking about this incident. I was harsh to think the things I did when I first heard my sister's reactions. I realized she didn't mean much of what she said and that they were words spoken out of anger. I began to understand.

I thought a lot about whether what my brother did was appropriate. I thought my parents raised us well and didn't deserve what they were going through. But in a very small, weird way, I felt my brother's actions were appropriate. After losing his best friend to gang violence, it was just too much. He began to lose his direction in life and it got worse.

The telephone rang. The doctor called to say my brother had stitches and that he'd be okay after a couple of days. We were all very relieved.

My brother is still the same, but not as bad. The drugs and drinking that he does get on my parent's nerves, but they are learning how to deal with a troubled person like him. I think about these hard times for my parents, because of us children. Mostly though; I think about my mother. I realize how much I have been taking her presence for granted. While she was on her knees that night, crying to God, I couldn't help but think about the stories of her experience traveling to America and how hard surviving in America was. This incident made me feel guilty because I realized what my mom was experiencing.

Everyone benefited from this incident, including me. My brother has given me a lot to think about. Before this, I always lived in fantasy, where I thought my family was perfect and that there weren't any problems. I wanted to be "normal" and to "fit in" with everybody else. After this incident, reality finally set in and I knew that I could never run away from this situation. I became more open-minded, and finally began to be proud of my family, no matter what happened.

Since this incident, everyone has been more cautious. We were able to pull together during a rough time, regardless of differences and reactions. It has taught us to be more patient and understanding of one another, appreciating each other's presence. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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