Receiving the phone call, jumping on a plane to LA and taking the elevator up to the 8th floor where my brother was is all a bit of a blur. Walking into to ICU and seeing my brother, broken, swollen, and almost unrecognizable is very clear in my mind. They had to remove the right side of his scull in order to relieve the pressure in his head. His eyes were bulging out of his eye sockets. Blood was slowly oozing from his ears, his eyes and his nose. He was being jerked up and down by the ventilator. Walking into that room was gut wrenching. He only had a very thin strip of bandage wrapped around his head, other than that, his face was not covered. I have never experienced such disbelief.
Eric had fallen about 30 feet from a building and landed on his head. He was known as John Doe for about 6 days, in which time he had undergone 5 brain surgeries and was being kept alive on life support. After stabilizing him, they finally were able to run his fingerprints, and we were called.
After an extensive meeting with his medical team, it was decided to take him off life support. The damage was so extensive that there was little hope of any sort of recovery. Knowing my brothers wishes, we felt it was the only choice we had. It took my brother 4 hours to die. Gasping for air, struggling for life, it was indescribable. My mother clutching her only son and sobbing. It was unbelievably inhuman. I put our family dogs down about 6 years ago, and they went so peacefully, why can’t we do this for our loved ones? Why did my brother have to suffer so? Why was he saved in the first place?
During the first couple of months after my brother’s death, we talked about him incessantly. We reminisced about how he acted and looked. We had an insatiable desire to reconstruct the weeks before he died. We recounted the last conversations, moods, phone calls, and photographs, hoping that somehow our memories would explain the answer to why he had killed herself. That question still gnawed at my guts, creating a big, black, empty hole
It has been almost three month since his death, and I find myself paralyzed with grief at times. Paralyzed with guilt and regret. I find myself angered by almost everything and everybody.
There is a litany of feelings that all survivors of suicide know too well. The flippant use of ‘I could just kill myself’; the incessant wondering of Why? Why? Why?; the anniversary of the death and its importance (no matter how long it has been); someone remembering that this is the day your world stopped and then started differently; the fear of memories yellowing and becoming harder to recall.
Some people are disturbed most by events that are unexpected.
For me, it has always been the half-awaited ones that carry the blow: the semi-conscious fears that lurk behind closed eyes, the “what ifs…”
I believe, the history of our family is partly responsible for my brother’s death, a history full of self destructive events.
Addiction has touched every aspect of my life. It has chewed me up and spit me out. Addiction took a beautiful, talented, loving man from me. He was my other half, he was a part of me. He made our cruel history doable.
Is the legacy of self-destruction I have discovered in my family too great for me to survive? If so, when will the pendulum swing? And, if it never does, why not? How can I – now walking alone in this life — escape?