Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

It was a beautiful spring day in 2009. My daughter, her boyfriend, and I had driven out to the coast for the first time since we had moved to Oregon a year before. We had spent a few hours at the casino and we were on our way home talking about going back to the coast again. My cell phone rang and I saw it was my older sister, Sylvia.

“Are you home?”
“No. We’re on the way home from the coast and we were just talking about how you would like it there if you came to visit.”
“Are you driving or is Tina driving?”
“Tina is.”
“Okay. I just called to tell you…I’m sorry I have to tell you…Carlos just killed himself.”

Again. Another brother. I was speechless. She had to hang up because the police were there and she had to talk to them. She asked me to call my younger sister and let her know. I did. The rest of the day is a blur. My daughter took care of everything and before I knew it, we were on a our way to the airport for a 6 am flight to southern California. We muddled through the week that followed. My daughter and I came home to Oregon. The next few months were filled with grief and memorial services in both southern and northern California and then spreading his ashes.

It was difficult for me to go back to see my mother because my brother had been staying at my mother’s house before he died. When I was finally able to return to my mother’s house, everything was fine; quiet; normal. One day, I was in my sister’s bedroom reading. My mom was in her bedroom and my sister in the kitchen. My nephew was in the dining room on the computer. He is autistic and is nonverbal and spends all his time in front of the computer watching videos. There was no one else in the house. All of the sudden, the bedroom door swung open, there was what I can only call a “whoosh” and then all was still. A minute later, I heard a male voice just above a whisper. It said “What’s goin’ on?” I looked all around. No one was there but I had recognized the voice. It was my brother, Carlos. I sensed him in the room for another minute or so then he was gone.

I wasn’t scared. I knew he wasn’t there to hurt me.

I told my sister later that night. She said she had felt him there before and our mother had often felt him and heard him until one day when she spoke to him telling him to leave because he didn’t belong in this world. After that, my mom hasn’t felt his presence anymore. I felt it and heard him. No fear. No threat. Just a sense of peace. He was there with me for that short two or three minutes.

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Silver Lining?

One good thing that has come from the aftermath of my brother’s suicide last March is that the remaining family has gotten close again.  I’ve been asked for friend connections on Face Book with many of my nieces and nephews and I have noticed that most of them are connecting with more and more of their cousins, some that they have never met.   I think they’ll be stronger for knowing that they aren’t alone out there.  They have a large extended family that cares about each other.  I see that as a positive thing and if that came from Carlos’ suicide, that would make him happy.  He was all about family and kids.

Some of the cousins at my brother's memorial service.

Some of the cousins at my brother's memorial service.

I think there are only 18 or 19 in this picture, taken at my brother’s memorial service.  There are lots more.  There were about another 6 there that evening and about 15 more that weren’t there.  These are two generations of cousins.  It was good to see them all together and getting along and enjoying each other’s company.

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The Saddest Part…

…was not the phone call.

Was it having to tell my kids?  Having to call my sister to break it to her?  Trying to maintain an “I’m okay face” while preparing to leave town?

Was it seeing my mother when I walked in her house?  Dealing with my nieces and nephews grieving their uncle?

Was it going through tons of pictures to find the ones that were right for the service?  Was it having to conduct the service after refereeing the discussion about whether it should be religious or not?

It may have been watching my nieces and nephew break down at the memorial service for their father.

It may have been the preparations for joining family to scatter ashes; or dealing with the car rental counter who didn’t have a car for me, making it very possible that I would be late for the second memorial service.

Then there was the horrible road that took us two hours to drive the seven and a half miles.

But I surely was not prepared to see my niece break down and fall to the ground then knead the ashes into the ground.

I think, though, that for me, the toughest part was holding his ashes in my hand and knowing that I had to let him go.

And now the toughest part is not being able to look at his pictures any more without breaking down; and needing to avoid speaking of him so I won’t fall apart.

Then there’s the knowing…the realization…that I can’t see him any more;  and the fact that  I can’t pick the phone up and talk to him.

I have been through this before.  This is the second brother I lose to suicide and the third brother I lose.  I know I will get through this.  I know that one day I will be able to think of him and smile and laugh and be happy that he is at peace, like I have done with the other two I have lost.

But I’m not there yet.   Right now there is just pain.  Right now there is alone-ness.  Right now there is sadness.  Right now I am numb.

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