“I want to see him. I don’t care what you say. You don’t care what I want!”
Chad hung his head and walked past the living room where his parents and his sister where arguing. He made his way up the stairs and to his room, flopped down on his bed and groaned.
He was so tired of the fighting, why couldn’t Katherine just be happy where she was. Father had just discovered that she had been sneaking of to see Troy. In a matter of seconds Katherine had managed to pull the family apart again.
“Hey, Chad, is everything ok?” Justin walked into Chads room and sat down on the bed beside him.
“Mother and Father are talking to Katherine about Troy.”
Justin’s entire face fell, “I’m sorry, Chad.” Justin knew how badly all of the fighting was hurting Chad.
“I wish that it could all be over. Is it bad that I am wishing that Katherine would leave? She obviously doesn’t want to be here.”
“I know that Katherine is hurting all of us, but she is your sister. God wants us to love her even when she is being so hard.” Justin was scared that if Chad was allowed to, he would hate his sister forever.
“I know, I’m sorry. It’s just that Father is so unhappy all the time. You don’t know what it is like to work with him all day after a fight with Katherine.”
“Chad, tell me the truth. Is that why you are so upset and wanting Katherine to leave?”
“It’s not just that. I love Mother and Father and Katherine so much and all I see Katherine do is hurt Mother and Father.”
Justin, who normally knew what to say, had nothing to say to his brother. What Chad said was exactly what he felt, all Katherine did was hurt their parents and herself. “I’m so sorry Chad. That’s all I can say”
“I’m sorry too. I don’t want her to leave. I just want her to be happy here with us.” Chad smiled as best he could at his big brother.
Justin smiled back and then left the room. Outside of Chads door he could still hear the arguing going on downstairs. He sighed and went to his room where he prayed. He prayed for Katherine, he prayed for his parents, and he prayed for Chad.
Chad fell onto his bed that night and asked God for the strength to keep on loving his sister. As he went to sleep that night, his mind drifted back to when he, Katherine and Justin were young and would play together.
“Chad wake up. We can’t find Katherine.” Mothers voice sounded scared and worried. It was early in the morning, and the sun was just beginning to come up.
Chad leapt out of bed with wide eyes, “What do you mean Mother?”
Katherine had come back, after ten years she had come back.
Chad walked to the barn. These thoughts had been running through his mind for the past couple of weeks. The weeks had been crazy since Katherine came home. Between Katherine’s unruly children and Troy (Katherine’s husband who was a stagecoach robber) kidnapping Andi, and Katherine’s children, Levi, Betsy and Hannah, Chad hadn’t had time to think about his own feelings.
Was he even happy that she was back? Did he even care? Would it matter to Katherine if he cared? She hadn’t talked to him since she had returned, other than a simple apology and quiet quick words.
Andi had woken up that morning and made everyone happy. She had almost drown trying to save Levi and his sisters from Troy. Chad was so happy that Andi was alright. He wanted her to be alright. He wanted everyone in his family to be happy.
Chad began to saddle up Sky. When he heard footsteps behind him, he turned to see Mitch.
“Hey big brother.” Mitch smiled. He had been happy to see Katherine again.
Chad longed for the peace of mind that Mitch had about their sister.
“Where are you going?” Mitch asked.
“I need to check on the cattle in the lower north pasture. I should be back by dinner,” Chad replied.
“We were going to go on a picnic for lunch and dinner. Will you not be joining us?” Mitch looked worried.
“I don’t think so.” Chad smiled at Mitch but not in a happy way. It was a sad smile.
“Come on, Chad. It will do you good. You don’t need to work all the time, you know” Mitch tried to sound encouraging and he desperately hoped that it would work. He had never seen Chad so miserable before, he wanted his brother to be happy.
“I said no, I have too much to do.” Chad talked calmly but Mitch could tell that he was tense.
“see you later then.” Mitch turned and hurried back to the house. He found his mother who was in conversation with Katherine and whispered his and Chad’s conversation into her ear.
Mrs. Carter stood up and excused herself. She made her way out to the barn where her son had just finished tacking up his horse.
Chad turned and stopped when he saw his Mother. He smiled that same sad smile he had given Mitch. He just couldn’t be happy.
“Chad, please join us today. It will do you good. Andi needs some fresh air and she would love to have you come along.”
“I know, but she has Justin and I really need to go check the cattle.” Chad spoke quietly and carefully. The truth was that he didn’t want to be around Katherine. He wanted to vent his anger toward her; he wanted to kick himself for being unforgiving towards his sister.
Oh, why was he so stubborn and why couldn’t he forgive and forget? Why was he so confused?
Chad looked at his mother. She looked hurt. Oh, he didn’t mean to hurt her.
“I love you Chad” Elizabeth hugged her son and then headed inside.
Chad mounted up and kicked his horse into a full run. He needed to get away, get away from everyone, away from his feelings.
Chad had been riding for fifteen minutes and had slowed down to a trot when he heard someone coming up behind him. He turned to see Sid the Forman coming up. Chad smiled. The only person that he wouldn’t mind seeing right now was Sid. He had become like a father to Chad when his Dad died.
“What are you doing out here?” Sid asked seriously as he brought his horse up beside Chad’s. “You should be going with your family. I can check the cattle.”
“Did Mitch send you out here?” Chad flared.
“No he did not. I was planning on checking the cattle this morning because I knew that if I didn’t you would use it as an excuse to get out of spending time with your family and avoiding Katherine.”
Chad hung his head. “Sorry for snapping at you.”
“Its ok, you have a lot going on right now, but one thing I do want to tell you is that family comes before work, and in the end, family will be all that you have. If you spend all your life running from the family that God gave you, you will end up all by yourself at the end of your life.”
Chad pulled his horse up and Sid followed suit. “Even after what she did, she tore our family apart Sid.” Chad spoke angrily. He was finally getting out what had been inside of him all this time.
“She is your sister, Chad. God gave her to you and whether you like it or not, you are stuck with her! You have to protect her through the good and the bad.That is the way it is in a family. You never give up on each other. God doesn’t give up on you! If you are always mad at her, then you will begin to pull your family apart just like she did.”
“Why should I forgive her?” All that Sid was saying was what Chad knew to be true but didn’t want to admit to himself. This final question was one more push against his conscience, one more shove against God.
“Why should God have forgiven you? What did you do to earn his forgiveness? Weren’t you rebellious against God until you were saved? Aren’t you hurting God and your family right now? And yourself?”
There they were! The final words that hit Chad like a thunder bolt. If God can forgive me, why can’t I forgive Katherine!
“Thank you,” was all that Chad could say. He yanked Sky back around and pushed him as hard as he could back to the ranch house.
Sid smiled. He loved Chad like he was his own son. It had been hurting Sid to see Chad fighting against God and his family for the past couple weeks. Sid knew that Chad would never really open up about his feelings all the way, but if he could get him to open up a little then he could say the right words to him. He could help him see the right path to take. Sid kicked his horse into a trot and sighed. Everything was going to be ok.
Chad pulled to a stop at the ranch house and was told by one of the hands that the family had already left for the creek. Chad began to make his way toward the creek with a light heart. He would tell Katherine that he was sorry and everything would finally be better.
Just as Chad was about to leave the ranch yard, however, he spotted a lone figure making her way back to the house. Katherine. She must have forgot something he thought.
The creek where they had picnic was not far away from the house and they always walked there. Chad dismounted and was about to make his way towards her when he stoped short. Just as Katherine was about the open the door to the house a young ranch hand stepped out from the corner of the house. It was Mat, one of the new ranch hands that Chad had hired for the haying.
Chad could not hear what was being said but he saw Katherine back up from the door and begin to walk the other way. Mat followed and his words became hearable for Chad.
“Come with me. I know that your husband followed you out here. He owes me some money and if he won’t give it to me, than he doesn’t get you.” Mat reached out and grabbed Katherine’s arm and began to pull her back.
Chad broke into a run to cover the distance between them.
Katherine began to scream and pull against Mat. “Let me go!”
“You really think that someone is going to help you? I heard what you did to your family. You don’t deserve to be helped!”
Chad reached around Katherine and grabbed the unsuspecting Mat and with all his might yanked Mat’s arm away from Katherine and threw him to the ground. “You ever talk to my sister or try to touch her again I…I..”
“You’ll what? Killing just because someone insulted your sister goes against your conscience.” Mat stood up with an evil smile on his face.
Chad stood still for a moment, a moment too long. Mat took a swipe then another at Chad. Chad blocked one but missed the other. Chad stumbled and almost fell as Mat’s fist met his eye.
That’s when all furry broke loose. Chad could be a mean old bear when someone pushed him too far and Mat had just pushed far enough. Chad flew at him and before long had him pinned on the ground. “You will leave and never come back, got it?” Chad ordered still holding Mat down.
“Yes, I got it” Mat groaned. Chad had his arm bent back very painfully.
“Oh, and by the way, no matter what happens I will always be here to help my sister!” Chad emphasized this with a small twist of Mat’s arm.
Chad let Mat up and watched him closely as he mounted his horse and rode away. Mat was never seen again on the Circle C, and Chad was more than happy for that.
Chad turned around to see Katherine standing frozen staring at him.
“Are you alright?” Chad asked.
Katherine stood for a moment more and then ran and threw her arms around Chad, “I love you, big brother! Thank you for protecting me. I’m so sorry for the hurt I caused you. The words came out in a rush between tears.
Chad wrapped his arms around Katherine. “I forgive you.” Chad bit his lip to keep the tears back that threatened to come. “I am so sorry for being so selfish and not forgiving you sooner! I love you Katherine and I will always be there to protect you.”
Katherine stood back and looked at Chad. Tears spilled down her cheeks and she smiled and then almost laughed.
“What’s funny?” Chad questioned puzzled.
“Your eye. It’s going to be beautiful shade of black and blue.” Katherine laughed a sweet laugh that made Chad laugh as well.
“Anything for my little sister!”
“Come inside and I will do my best to clean up your eye.”
Chad followed Katherine inside. He sat down at the table and Katherine brought a rag and began to wipe of the dirt that covered Chad’s face.
“I remember when we were little, and you beat up that boy who teased me because I had an accident on the first day of school.”
“I remember that too. Justin helped me!” There was a moment of silence and then Katherine spoke. “I’m so sorry. We missed so many years together because of my selfish behavior and my pride.”
“Katherine, I forgive you and I love you. I have been bitter towards you all these years and I was so angry at you, but to tell you the truth I missed you! I love you so much. You’re my sister and I will always want you to be my sister. I am so sorry for the way that I behaved toward you when you first came. I was not loving like I should have been.”
“Chad, there is nothing to forgive! You are one of the best brothers I could ever ask for!” Katherine and Chad hugged once again and finally the brother-sister relationship was healing.
“Come along. We better head on back to the rest of the family before they start to worry.”
Chad put Sky away and then he and Katherine walked back to the picnic. As they walked up, all of the little ones were playing in the small creek. Andi, Mother, Justin, Melinda, and Mitch were sitting happily watching them.
Chad came and plopped down beside his Mother and Katherine sat down beside him.
Elizabeth looked over at her son. “Chad, what happened?” she exclaimed seeing his eye! Everyone looked at Him and Katherine.
“I will tell you in a minute.”
“Nice shiner, Chad.” Andi laughed as she looked at Chad’s eye. Everyone joined in and laughed!
“Very funny, little sister.” Chad winked at Andi. Everyone looked back at the children. After a moment of silence Chad whispered to his mother.
“Family and Jesus are the most important things I have, because some day they will be all that I have. I love you Mother.” Chad hugged his mother.
Mrs. Carter was very proud of her son. She knew that no matter what happened her family would do their best to stay together and always be there for each other.
Chad hugged Katherine again and said, “I would get a black eye any day for my sister.” Then told everyone what had happened. The evening wore on and everyone felt peace again in their family.
Chad leaned up against the tree that they were sitting under and as he looked at his family he was once again reminded of how important family was. One day everything else will fade away, all of our earthly wants and pleasures, but family will always be here, and we don’t ever want to lose them.
“Thank you, dear Jesus, for my family.” He whispered.