Today marks 7 years since my older brother chose to end his own life. In the past this day has been one of great sorrow and all I could do to cope was drink. The only way I could try to process the feelings and look for answers was by searching for them at the bottom of the bottle. The answers were never there and never will be, because my brother took them to the grave with him. The mess that suicide leaves behind is incomprehensible.
My brother’s girlfriend and two young daughters were the first to arrive on the scene (my brother shot himself.) His oldest daughter wrote this poem
“I came home I seen a mess you told me sorry but it doesn’t help, it doesn’t help. Why did you do this to me? So I just went outside to see the moon then I seen the stars. So reach for the stars and we’ll be all right. I promise you, so let’s reach for the stars we’ll be fine reaching for the stars, reaching for the stars.”
If little Lexie can find hope in the stars, so can I. I no longer want to be a part of the mess and the cycle of addiction and mental illness. This year I am choosing to honor his life with sobriety and sanity. I am going to laugh and cry in his memory, but I will not drown it with alcohol. I don’t talk to Dale much anymore and I feel compelled to today. Here is my open letter to him. Simply because if we keep quiet about the after math of suicide the stigma remains.
I cannot believe it’s been seven years since I got the phone call that you had left us. So much has happened in that time, it feels like I have lived a whole lifetime split in two. A life with you in it and one without you. I have been married and divorced (you know the women in our family, it was destined to end badly the first time.) I have loved and lost. I have lost a lot. I know you have watched over me and seen me spiral out. I know you always had higher hopes for me because you always told me “you are the smart one in the family keep going in school and do something big”. I finally did it big brother! I graduated, become a real estate broker and I am sober. I enjoy my life and nurture my mental illness so that I can have a full and happy life that addiction and depression robbed you of. How I wish I could spend one more day with you in our tree fort without a care in the world other than swapping pogs and laughing…or terrorizing our sister on Burrito night. The laughs and the joy we had as children carry me through the dark days when I am missing you. I know I haven’t always clung to the happy times and have felt anger towards you for leaving us behind but I have come to peace with it. I saw a psychic (Dont even roll your eyes at me, we played with a Ouija board together for years) and she told me “he just wasn’t meant to be on this earth in this life for a long time. He is in the white light and at peace.” I believe that. You were a funny, caring, wild, and sensitive soul who just got lost somewhere along the way and had to be called home to do your work from afar. I feel your love wherever you are. When we meet again I imagine myself sitting with you in the kitchen and me making you a Pb&J because you said I make them best because of my OCD…”you put the peanut butter all the way to the edge of the crust”. Today I will focus on our laughter, perfect Pb&j sandwiches and no brown shoes.
If you or someone you know is suffering, please reach out. You matter. Call 1-800-273-8255