Letter to Brian: April 28, 2016

Dear Brian,

Well I’ve been having a pretty rough streak here lately.  I know grief, and depression, are known to come and go in cycles and there’s no telling when an episode will hit or hard it will hit me.  This one hasn’t been the worst I’ve had… but I’ve certainly had better.  Though I am getting a little better at forgiving myself for my setbacks than I used to be… and for cutting myself some slack (pardon the pun) when I slip up and self-injure like I did again this past weekend.  My therapist, and my dear friends, have helped me to get to a place where I am better about saying to myself, “OK, so that happened.  Now let’s move on!  Give yourself a break, you’re dealing with a lot.”  I appreciate their understanding so, so much.  It’s a far less-lonely place dealing with it when you are open about it with those closest to you; dealing with all of that alone for so many years was more painful yet.

We also just passed the 5 month mark since losing Mooooomie and her death is becoming more and more difficult for me now.  I think it’s because until now I’ve still had so many details to deal with that have been distracting me from the pain: paying the rest of her bills, closing accounts, canceling magazines, moving her belongings out of her place and storing it, handling the estate (which wasn’t finalized until just a few weeks ago), doing her taxes, getting her car fixed and I’m still working on the thank you notes from the funeral yet! I have no excuse for that– it’s just each time I sit down and read through the cards I have a complete meltdown and I’ve been trying to avoid that as often as possible.

But now, I’m arranging to have the rest of her belongings (and her vehicle) shipped down here to Texas.  I guess the fact that the final details are now about to be finished makes the reality of the situation harder to ignore.  I’m so glad I’ll have her Subaru with me, though.  I have so many memories of time spent with her in that car… and it was the last place I saw her; she dropped me off at the airport in it back in October.  She hugged me so tight and cried more than usual, Brian.  It absolutely broke my heart to turn away from her to leave.  Really… I was crushed.  So my plan is to sell my own vehicle and keep hers.  I remember how sad I was letting your car go… I so wished that we had hung on to that; I’m not going to make the same mistake again.  And I know each time that I drive her car and I accelerate quickly I’ll hear Mooooomie’s silly voice saying, “Yes… my car likes to go buh-bye.”  I wish every single day that she didn’t have to go “buh-bye” too. We weren’t finished  yet.

I think another reason this past week hit me extra, extra hard is because of Prince’s death a week ago today.  Obviously, I didn’t know him personally, but having a death so widely publicized, particularly of an artist that meant so much to Minnesota and to my childhood, has been pretty triggering.  And, like always, there are so many comments surfacing that have upset me a great deal– very similar to after the suicide of Robin Williams.  Because they were a public figure, so many people seem to feel entitled to know all the details about his death– who found him, what he was wearing, who last spoke to him, the results of the autopsy, who he left his fortune to and so much more.  The thing is, the only people who truly deserve to know the answers to all of those questions are his closest of friends and family.  Not only because he was such a private individual, but because that kind of information just isn’t necessary for the rest of us, you know?  I can’t imagine the pain of having the details of your loved one’s death hashed over and over again in the media with people speculating about all kinds of terrible things about him before he was even laid to rest.  If that had happened when you died, I can’t imagine how that would have hurt.

I’m also painfully aware that Mother’s Day is coming up and I’m SO tired of seeing ads and receiving emails saying, “Hey!  Show your Mom how much you love her this Mother’s Day with a huge bouquet of spring flowers!”  If only I could do that.  I know her birthday, a few months later, will bring up much of the same pain.

I read a story recently that really made me think.  It was about a man who had passed away in his apartment in New York City and no one noticed for a week… until the stench of is rotting flesh alerted his neighbors, prompting a call to the police.  I can’t help but think that someday that will be me.  It’s not that far-fetched, really.  Considering how much I hide away from people and how infrequently I speak with most of my friends, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that a week could go by before anyone would have a clue.  Though I do have a job… so I guess that may be the one thing that would alert someone sooner; if I were to not show up at work for a few days, or even a single day, without notifying anyone, that would be uncharacteristic of me and would raise a red flag.  I realize as I’m typing this how morbid that sounds… but it’s absolutely true.  After all, it happened with you– you were dead nearly 7 days before we found out.  That will haunt me the rest of my days… I’m so ashamed.

I really don’t know what brought this to my mind recently, but it’s been creeping up on me often the past few weeks so I guess it’s worth mentioning to you.  I was reminded of one of our annual fishing trips up to Snyder Lake… we went nearly every year.  The particular year I have in mind was the summer before I started the 8th grade.  I vividly remember choosing to stay back at the cabin and read my book while you, Mom and Dad took the boat out to do some early evening crappie fishing.  I had been experiencing a crushing bout of depression and was… well, just so deeply sad.  I remember walking out the cabin door and picking up the rifle  we had left leaning against the wall after shooting at some beer cans earlier in the day.  I held it with the barrel pointed toward the sky and then slowly lowered it and I placed the barrel in my mouth.  I don’t remember very much after that aside from crying and thinking to myself, “I can’t let my family find me like this.”  So at some point I put it down and went back inside and picked my “Sweet Valley High” book back up and when y’all came back from fishing none of you had absolutely no clue as to what had transpired while you were away.  Looking back, I can’t help but think what a disaster that would have been.  The thing is, the rifle wouldn’t have killed me; at age 13, I didn’t know nearly enough about guns to have realized that the weapon I’d held in my mouth would only have injured me very severely and who knows what my face would have looked like after that or what kind of reduced mental faculties I may have suffered… but I do know the odds of it successfully taking my life are very, very slim.  I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone that story ever before… and I can’t say why that image has been running through my head so much lately! But I guess it’s safe to tell you, and Mom, about it now. I’m so sorry.

I’m doing my very best to power through this recent surge in my depression… I come to work, I get through the day (with the help of frequent trips to the bathroom where I can cry alone in the stall), I go home and am in bed most nights before 9:00 not only because I’m so exhausted all the time but also because I just find it easier to bear when I sleep through it.  I’ve been trying to motivate myself to exercise because I despise the condition my body is currently in but I can’t seem to find the energy to do it.  I don’t care for the “snap out of it” advice when it comes my way.  I mean… how do you “just power through it” when the very organ needed to motivate yourself, your brain, is the part that’s so badly broken?

You’d be proud of me, though… I just booked a vacation for myself for January of 2017.  It’s so oddly optimistic of me… planning something that far ahead and looking forward to it, even.  Look at me, I must be growing.  Baby steps…

That’s all for now, dude.








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I lost my brother Brian, my only sibling, to suicide on October 13, 2010. I write about dealing with the loss as well as my own life-long struggle with depression and suicidal ideation.

3 thoughts on “Letter to Brian: April 28, 2016”

  1. I’m so thankful for your strength. The 2nd anniversary of my bother’s suicide is coming quickly, 16 days to be exact. I found your blog pretty quickly after his death and am embarrassed that this is the first time I’ve thanked you. You help me grieve and I appreciate that more than words could EVER express. I am very sorry for your losses. I want you to know that you do make a difference in this world and I am so very thankful that you share your story.


    1. Heather thank you so much for saying that– it’s always been my hope that someone else will get some comfort out of it so THANK YOU! I’m so sorry for the loss of your brother. Will you be doing anything special that day to remember him? Much love, Laura <3

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