When I think about it, every miracle I’ve ever experienced seems to have to do with my family. One of the biggest miracles I’ve witnessed was that of my brother..PJ
We have always been close. When I was a kid, there was a popular toy: My Buddy. Maybe you remember the commercial
PJ and I would always hug and sing, “My buddy”. He was my buddy.
Over the years we stayed close. When I graduated high school, I moved to the west. He is six years younger than me, so he was still in middle school. I would write him letters, and occasionally get a funny letter from him, too. As he got older (and when we got good nationwide cell phone plans), I would spend plenty of time talking with him about funny movies and other general stuff.
Unfortunately, when he was in high school, he had a group of friends that experimented with drugs. He followed suit. It changed him for a long time. Our relationship became strained. It was really hard for me. I mean, all of his relationships were strained, but ours had remained intact for a while.
I knew it wasn’t him that was abandoning our relationship. It was the drugs. But it still hurts – really bad.
He went through a few things – moved in and out of my mom’s house, then dad’s house. And then, one night, he was gone. He left everyone and everything. No one knew where he was. He just disappeared. He was over eighteen, so there wasn’t much we could do (since we had no reason to suspect foul play). It was incredibly difficult – especially for my parents. Birthdays and holidays came and went. At first, we all waited. After a while, I would do random google searches. Once I googled PJ’s name, and found someone with PJ’s exact name entered into a dart contest at a bar in Doylestown, PA. It was about an hour away from my home at the time. I decided to recruit a few of my friends (guys, big burly guys) to come with me to a bar to see if it was my brother.
It was hilarious. A car-ful of Mormons driving to a bar. I’m so grateful for those two friends – Kenyon and Mark. I know I never expressed enough gratitude. We drove out there, I went into the bar. PJ was PJ, but not the PJ I was looking for. I went home, sad.
We all wondered if he had died. We had no idea what had happened to him, we just knew he was gone.
My sister got married, I got married. We both moved across the country. Life just went on – without him. We still looked for him. I started calling Medical Examiner’s offices. But no leads, and no brother.
And one day, I got a phone call from my (then)step-mom. “Catania, we found P.J.” Obviously I freaked out.
My sister had a swim-meet in Providence, RI. My dad’s family lived in Boston, MA. Swim meets are very long, and my dad had to coax my other brother, Sean to go with them. He finally baited him by saying that they would go to Dave and Buster’s after the meet.
So they went. They played games. They ordered food. And then my dad saw him – my brother PJ in the restaurant. He said, “That’s P.J.” P.J.’s back had been to my dad, so PJ hadn’t seen my family. My dad approached him, tapped his shoulder, and PJ turned around and saw his father.
It was a joyous reunion. They both cried. My brother apologized. He was clean, and had changed his life, but had been too embarrassed – knowing what he had put our family through – to say anything. The more time passed, the more embarrassed he felt. But he was grateful to see my dad. They ate together. And we, as a family rejoiced.
PJ has been a big part of our lives (again) since then. He has given up drugs and the lifestyle he had. He doesn’t talk about the time he was gone. None of us talk about it. I know that I can’t imagine the rock bottom that he experienced. I know that what he went through was harder than what we went through.
I’m so grateful that it is all behind us. He is still my buddy. He is still one of the funniest people I know. He can beat anyone at Jeopardy, and he’s an amazing cook. He is still happy, quiet, and full of the funniest comments. He still cares deeply about dogs and little kids. He is proof of miracles. I know Heavenly Father loves us. He loves families. I know that Heavenly Father wants us to find happiness in family life. I’m grateful for my brother, PJ
I’m so grateful that the Lord answers prayers. I know that He is a God of miracles. And I know that our families are so important. I’m so glad to have my brother back. I’m glad that we’re still “buddies”. I know that even with heartache and difficulty in life, we should never ever give up hope.