Letter to Brian: December 24, 2016

Dear Brian,

It’s been 2 months since my last letter to you.  I think about writing every day but haven’t been able to find the right words lately. There’s a lot to catch you up on!

For starters, I had an accident a while back.  On November 5th, in the middle of a beautiful fall day, I took a hard spill off a single step in my breezeway… and fractured both of my ankles.  Yes, BOTH of them.  I went down so fast I didn’t even have time to react or to brace myself; in hindsight that’s probably a good thing as a broken wrist would only served to have complicated my recovery and (lack of independence) much further.

Upon crashing to the ground after tripping on my step, I took a moment to mentally survey my body for pain to see if I was OK.  Being in shock, I didn’t immediately feel anything.  However, a glance down at my feet told me I was in for some trouble when I saw that my right foot was pointed at a 90 degree angle away from where it SHOULD have been pointing… and my left ankle was quite visibly swollen as well.

Once I realized how badly my foot was injured I screamed for help and my amazing friends and neighbors came rushing to my side.  One look at my mangled foot prompted their call for an ambulance.  They stayed with me, elevated my leg and held my hand until help arrived.  I’m ashamed to admit that less than 2 weeks earlier I had another emotional slip up and I had cut… and, as a result, had a bandage on my arm covering the disgusting wound.  As much pain as my ankle was in, the thing that made me cry was the multiple questions about my scars.  From the EMT on my right it was, “I see you have a bandage on your left arm… was that from today?  What’s going on under there… anything we need to be concerned about?”  I assured him that no, it was not anything to be concerned about… but did explain that the bandage was covering a self-inflicted injury in the early stages of healing yet.  Then from the EMT at my feet came another inquiry, “I see some scars here down by your ankle… have you had surgery on this ankle before?”  Again, I admitted to having cut myself there years earlier.  And, as they scanned my body and observed more and more scars, the questions continued to come… and  each and every time I replied with, “self-inflicted injury…. yup, that was me… yeah, same thing there, too.”  I distinctly remember starting to cry out of sheer humiliation as I squeezed my friend’s hand I said to her, “God, this is humiliating, I’m so embarrassed.” That’s what finally made me cry… having my emotional flaw put right out there front and center like that. And it continued for the next few days; each time a new nurse or doctor spotted my bandage I had to reveal that horrible thing about myself yet again and see that look of disappointment in their eyes… and then endure the inevitable visit from the social worker as a result.

But I did a real number on my ankles and my right one required surgery– they implanted a plate and 10 screws when putting it back together.  After a few days in the hospital I was released home and I have to say that the silver lining to this ordeal has been being reminded how much I’m loved and supported.  I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for the support system I have here; dozens and dozens of people rallied for me by setting me up with all the equipment and tools I’d need at home to get by, providing me with meals and household supplies, cleaned my home, cared for my cats, brought me to appointments and provided care around the clock for weeks.  Being someone who hates asking for any kind of help, it was astoundingly humbling to find myself in a position to require help for literally every single activity of self-care… but I found myself so supported that I knew I didn’t need to worry about a single thing.  I like to think that maybe you and Mooooomie had a hand in sending me that flood of help since you couldn’t be here to help me yourselves.

The strange thing is, literally the day before my accident I’d been having a particularly sad day and was feeling painfully lonely and wrote these words in my journal:

I’m the person you invite out because you feel you HAVE to… you know, just to be nice.  I’m awkward and I don’t know that I really fit in anywhere.  I’m like one of those plants that up top looks healthy but underneath it isn’t really rooted well; it’s just a matter of time before it dies.

It might sound silly but I believe that maybe that’s why this happened… maybe I needed a reminder, albeit a bit of an aggressive one, that I’m absolutely not alone and that I have so many people in my life who love and care for me.  During this ordeal I’ve managed to keep my spirits up thanks to the amazing network of loving souls I’m lucky enough to call my family and friends.  It’s not lost on me that I’m truly blessed.

Last weekend my good friends came over with the most delicious hot cocoa you’ve ever tasted, put on some Christmas music and decorated my Christmas tree with all of Moooomie’s ornaments for me as I wasn’t able to do it myself.  After they left, I put the presents I’d already wrapped under the tree and just stared at it for a while.  I began to cry as I felt this overwhelming warmth in my heart… I have people in my life who care enough for me to do that!  I have people in my life for whom I can buy gifts.  I have a life full of love.  Not everyone has that… and I think this is going to be a good Christmas for me, Brian.  Of course I miss you and Moooomie something terrible but I also know how lucky I am to have such an amazing support system.

My soul is feeling oddly at ease lately… a confusing, new feeling for me, for sure.  But know that while I miss you and Momma, I have little reminders of you everywhere… not just the pictures or mementos or the memories; I am literally surrounded by people who knew and loved you both who continue to love and support me today.

I just wanted to let you know that I really think I’m going to be OK… there’s been a very real shift in my mind and in my heart lately and I’m going to do my very best to keep this feeling of love and gratitude going for as long as I can.

Merry Christmas, dude.  Please hug Mooooomie for me and tell her I miss her so deeply.

All my love,




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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.