It’s funny how I can be moving right along thinking I’m doing really, really OK… then out of nowhere I find myself sluggish and exhausted and just sort of…well…. an overall feeling of malaise. Then I remember what day it is… and it all makes sense. Even when my mind is not consciously aware, my body remains entirely aware of what was happening on this very day 4 years ago.
It was Saturday, July 24, 2010 and I was in Dallas visiting my friend Rachel for the weekend. She and I were strolling around Target that morning when I heard my phone beep. I looked down and saw that I had a text message from you that read, “Hey dude– I’m having trouble with my email. If you get anything from me, just go ahead and delete it.” I truly didn’t think much of it… I just assumed perhaps your email account had been hacked. Rachel and I proceeded to shop and pick up snacks for our day at the pool that afternoon… your text immediately was forgotten and we went about our girls’ weekend. I had no idea what that seemingly benign text would come to mean to me.
The next afternoon I drove the 3 hours home from Dallas. I unpacked, took a shower and made myself a snack. I sat down at the computer to check my email to see what I’d missed during the past few days. Then I saw it… an email from you. It was sent on the 24th and the subject line simply read: “Important.” There was a word document attached and the body of the message said:
Hey Laura, this is very important and you will want to open it right away. –Brian
My first thought was, maybe I should just delete it as you’d asked me to do… but something in my gut told me to open the attachment anyway. So I did. These are the next few words I read:
I’m very very sorry to need to let you know this way, but if you’re reading this then that means that I’ve made the decision to end it all and it should be over and too late right now. I scheduled this email to be sent with a time-delay that can be canceled, and I left plenty of time. I’m sorry that you had to find out like this, but I didn’t know what else to do.
Brooklyn Park Police Department phone 763-493-8222
My front door will be unlocked.
After about 10 minutes of fevered dialing my phone rang and I stared at the caller ID display. It was you. It was YOU! But after the letter I’d just read I was a little afraid to pick up… would it be you? Would it be the police telling me they were standing over your dead body in your living room? I answered the phone and I heard your voice say, “Hey, dude.”
Shit. I don’t think a word exists that could possibly convey the amount of relief surging through my body upon hearing you speak. You apologized for worrying me and said that’s why you sent that text– to stop me from reading the email you intended to simply SAVE, not SEND. You told me how once you realized your mistake that you tried unplugging all of the cords to your computer in hopes of stopping it from being sent. None of that mattered to me… I told you that obviously I was meant to get that message so I could get you the help you so badly needed. In hindsight, I don’t know which would have been worse for me… having never received that email and having no warning about your imminent death or getting the email and proceeding to not do enough to keep you safe from yourself.
I began to wonder this week… thinking about what else might have been going on in the world that very same day you wrote that letter. So I decided to Google “July 24, 2010” to see what came up… to see what else was happening in the world that day as you sat alone in your home and typed up your suicide letter to me. That very same day your horoscope in the Lawrence Journal-World read, “Take some much-needed personal time. You have been groping with an issue and probably need time to process it.” Boy, did you ever. Selfishly, I wish you’d taken much, much longer. You know, like about another 50 years or so. But, I digress.
Just a few miles from where you sat typing, Natalie Merchant was performing at the O’Shaughnessy Theater in Saint Paul, MN. In Baltimore, our very own Minnesota Twins were defeating the Baltimore Oriole’s 7-2. Theo Albrecht, the 2005’s “20th Richest Man in the World” passed away. A number of celebrities (including, but not limited to, Rose Byrne, Bindi Irwin, Barry Bonds, Jennifer Lopez and Kristin Chenowith) were celebrating their birthdays. And then… I found something breathtaking. Turns out that the very same man who directed your favorite movie, “Gladiator,” had been working on producing a film project directed by Kevin MacDonald entitled, “Life in a Day” in which he was gathering video submissions from people all over the entire world from one single day: July 24, 2010. Absolutely amazing. After sorting through over 80,000 submissions containing a combined total of over 4,500 hours the end-result is a 95 minute documentary, shot by film-makers from all over the planet. It was released in 2011 and will, to quote IMDB, serve as a digital “time capsule” to show future generations what it was like to be alive on Earth on the twenty-fourth of July, 2010. While these people were presenting what it was like to be alive on that day, you were planning your own death.
I watched the documentary today and would you believe there was actually a part of me that I allowed to hope for a glimpse of you in there somewhere? I thought to myself, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great if by some miracle by brother showed up in there in his own video submission that might reveal to me a shred of what he was feeling that day?” I know… it was a long shot. But you have to understand… I won’t get any new pictures of you. I won’t get any new videos of you. All I have is what I’ve already seen and I continue to long for more because it still doesn’t make sense to me.
Instead of you, I saw what the moon looked like that night. I saw a couple getting married. I saw a woman joyfully holding a pregnancy test stick in her hand showing the camera she was going to be a mother. I saw a girl crying herself to sleep. So many personal and emotional moments in that 95 minutes… none of which included you. But then… I guess I already know what you were doing that day, don’t I?
I’ll continue to hopelessly search for you everywhere I look.
I miss you.