It killed me 6 years before you died to let go of you. You weren’t answering your phone again, so we had our babies in the car and drove an hour to your house at night to bang on windows and doors again, because we were worried you took your life but really it was just the drugs again. You were ashamed or maybe just high, so you wouldn’t answer our calls, texts and we’d run over and do this. Then after a few weeks you’d call and I’d see you again for awhile (and not talk about It) and then the cycle would begin again. But that night I thought, if he’s on drugs and accidentally shoots me while I’m breaking in the window, then he’ll really kill himself. A little voice in my head said What about your babies, don’t they need you too? I ran back to the car in that horrible neighborhood and I knew I had to let you go. Meaning I had to stop calling you every day–I just had to take you when I could get you. I wasn’t saving you–this wasn’t helping you and I needed to save myself. I realized you would never get “back on track”. This was who you were. It was like a death, letting go of that–my dreams for you were so attainable–you get a job and we go on camping trips with both our families. But I had to accept you in your sickness and take you when I could get you. It seemed to kill you too, you could feel that I had stopped pulling for you. That I simply accepted and loved you wasn’t enough. But I had to choose my family. When I got upset and missed you, I told myself at least you were still alive and that had to be enough.
The night you died last year, I felt you were in danger. But I was dealing with my own issues, and I chose myself. I have to be OK with that. Because however I map it out, it always ends up the same–you die. If I showed up that night, you may have lived another day but the next day you would have died. And I would be more destroyed than I am now. I have a family and is it OK if one of us is happy? You and Bob are both gone now and have left me alone with our parents and your baby. I’ve lost all my history without my brothers. I wanted to talk to you about the night Bob died and how we cried violently into each others’ necks. I have your necklace I gave you when I left for college when you were 7. I told you when you got scared to touch it and remember who you were. It kills me that you had it near you when you died. You were scared. I can’t wear it. I don’t even want to believe you are dead even though I saw you. I am so angry and because of your sad baby I can’t even feel anything more than guilt. I don’t feel allowed to properly mourn you. I keep trying to figure out how to solve this problem that can’t be solved. It’s very final but in my head I’m just mad because you aren’t calling me back.
If I had driven over there, I would have been choosing that insanity. I couldn’t keep trying to help and not get sucked down again myself.
All I have is these stupid photos and texts and emails and they aren’t enough to explain who we were to each other. It’s horrible that in one of them I’m yelling at you because you were killing us. But at least I said something–we always walked on eggshells around you. Why didn’t we take any photos together in the last 10 years? This is sounding very angry and tomorrow I will feel bad about writing this but it’s how I feel at the moment. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I had to live. I love you so much why did you leave us? I know why. I just don’t accept it. But it doesn’t matter that I don’t. It just is.
The day after you died, we didn’t know yet. But we left work early to go find you. I left you a voicemail because I hoped hearing my voice would help you respond. Stopped at parents’ first. The baby was there. Dad wondered why you weren’t answering your phone. I felt a little hysterical suddenly and focused that on buying the baby a wagon. Suddenly it seemed very important. I dragged everyone to Toys R Us and when we came back we got the message. I keep staring at the photo of our kids laughing together right before that. I think I’m looking for what we lost.
I don’t know who I am anymore. I spent most of my life trying to keep you alive. I don’t want any of this to infect my own babies or yours. I don’t know how it can’t. I want to be happy again. I worked so hard to have boundaries and built my family so carefully. We deserve to have joy. Can’t one of us be happy? I guess I’ll have to keep asking the question until I hear you say Yes. I know it’s probably just me answering. But I have to keep asking.
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