The Day My Brother Died
Click here for my post one year ago. Two years ago. Two years to the day, I received a gut-wrenching phone call from my absolutely destroyed mother, wailing out in despair that her baby, my 20 year old brother, Erik, had shot himself, ending a lifelong battle with depression.
Two years ago to this day, I dropped everything (just like they do in the movies) – my Target shopping bags from where I was probably the instant he died – and fled out the door to my car, frantically dialed [houston] and managed to choke out that my brother was dead. I remember his voice on the other end of the telephone. In quiet, somber tones but with urgency and concern, he relayed that he would be right there to meet me at my parents’ house. I somehow made it across town to the house in one piece; tears flooding my vision made it difficult for me to see. Pulling up to the house made my nightmare a reality as I saw the police cars, and medical examiner’s van outside of my idyllic childhood home.
I followed their advice and against my instincts, chose to remain downstairs instead of flying up the stairs two at a time to hold him in my arms, as I so desperately wanted to do. But they knew, and I knew, that I would be haunted forever by his last gruesome appearance, and I chose to stay back. When [houston] arrived, I ran into his arms and we both sobbed.
As they wheeled his body out of the front door, I flew around the corner to meet them, and laid my hand over the body bag on his chest and said Goodbye.
I took these photos (above, and below) of Erik during a hot summer late afternoon when he was hard at play on his BMX bike. There was always a hint of sadness in his eyes, which I captured that afternoon.
In the days that followed, I walked as if in a dream. I somehow wrote his obituary (first photo, above). I managed to smile and thank people for coming to his visitation. At his funeral service, I choked out a poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye and lamented about how he was supposed to be a groomsman at my wedding someday. The days, weeks, and months that followed were nearly unbearable at times. I got used to falling asleep on a tear-soaked pillow.
But my family, my boyfriend (now fiancé), my classmates, and my friends are the ones who got me through it all, and as if they were my support beams, so I was the support beam for my parents–and especially my mother.
Interestingly enough, we both chose to channel our grief into blogging. I started a blog called Pretty Shiny Sparkly as an escape into frivolous girliness to pull myself out of the grey cloud of despair; my mother began chronicling her journey exploring spirituality and the afterlife in a blog I created for her, called Channeling Erik.
Above: Erik’s graduation photo, and the hallway I was standing in when I got the phone call.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you all. I’m moved by your comforting words, and even moreso by the actions you have taken in response to my post from one year ago. Several of you have written to me telling me that you reconnected with loved ones after reading my story. Several of you wished you had brought tissues with you to work (sorry!).
I hope that if anything, you are inspired to tell your brother or sister that you love them. That means more to us than anything else. Also, my sister Michelle started a Facebook page to promote her initiative to make bullying illegal (and punishable as such). It would mean the world to me if you would support her efforts.