I buried my brother a year ago. That isn’t something I thought I’d be saying at 35. That isn’t something I thought I would be saying anytime soon. But here I am, still contending with the part of my brain that every now and then pops it’s head around the corner and says, “Wait, Mike is IN the Earth and not on it?” It’s not denial. It just proves how sudden death is, even when you see it coming.
I’m trying to work through the guilt I’ve felt since his passing. For not being there for him- for never being there for him, really. We were 13 years apart in age, and when I was growing into my own I always thought, “He’s an adult and adults have to get their shit together”. It was a very matter-of-fact way of thinking with almost zero empathy behind it. Now of course, I know better. My brother didn’t just have a monkey on his back, he had multiple demons. And they don’t leave you because you hit a certain age. I only wish I realized then how many he had roaming his head, compelling him to find relief in alcohol.
“The moments when you’re in so deep …it feels easier to just swim down”. -Lin-Manuel Miranda
Addiction was not his fault. His mental anguish was not his fault. He didn’t invite the devil in to harvest his brilliant mind. But in the end, that devil took his sanity and his life.
If you have a friend or family member who struggles with mental health and/or addiction, please remember that these are diseases and the sufferers are very much victims who are in extreme pain. I can’t ever help my brother now but if your loved one is still alive, don’t write them off. It’s easy to judge and be harsh towards something we don’t understand. Don’t dismiss someone because they’ve been on the wrong path for too long, or have consistently frustrated you with their issues. They don’t try to be a burden. It’s exhausting but I assure you it feels better than grief and loss. He didn’t have to die, but he wanted to, and that’s what kills me. He threw in the towel because he felt he had nothing to live for. Give your person something to live for.
I miss you, brother, and I wish I could have helped you want to be here. I hope your soul feels a little lighter now.