Birthdays are the hardest

8 months ago my brother took the fateful step that ended his life. He quietly put a rope around his neck and walked toward the railing of the 2 story tree house in our back yard. Before anyone even knew he was missing my baby brother committed suicide by hanging.
The moment he died it was like a siren went off. It was just after 9 p.m. and I was asleep. I was startled and sat up in the dark. I felt overwhelmed with sadness and began to weep. My heart was racing and I felt oddly cold. I called my sister while I took my temperature. She was fine but also felt weird. My body temp was only 94 and stayed that way for 3 hours.
My sister and dad ate dinner alone that night, wondering why my brother didn’t join them. He had been struggling with depression so not coming down to dinner wasn’t considered alarming. Mom was at work. My brother asked for help with his depression just days before his suicide. We all jumped to our feet, ready to help lift our brother up.

He is the only brother of 7 girls. He was born when most of us were in high school. We took care of him like he was our baby. We would have done anything for him. We loved him more than any of us knew. As a family we didn’t hesitate to support our brother. We called, told him he was loved, and asked how can we help. My parents decided to take him to St Joseph’s psychiatric but couldn’t get him in until Monday. My brother, Rhoth died on Saturday night around 10pm.

I was thousands of miles away in another state, trying to pick up the pieces of my life. I hadn’t spoken to my brother in almost a year. I think the last time I actually talked to him on the phone was Thanksgiving. My life was crazy and I didn’t have time for anyone but me. My 2 yr old daughter was kidnapped from me by her father and grandfather. I was diagnosed with lupus. And I had lost my job, my car, and most recently my home.

I reached out to my brother just a couple of days before his death. I sent him a message asking him if he was okay. We never really talked. I’m almost twice his age and we never really had much to say to each other. But we did talk for a little while that night. It was nice. I told him about my suicide attempt when he was only a year old. I wanted him to know he can beat his depression. I’m living proof. I told him he can get through this just like I have. Even though my life was a complete disaster, I needed my brother to know I was there for him.

That conversation was one of the most heartfelt I’ve ever had with my brother and one of the few times I told him I love him. I should have said it more often. I should’ve called more often. I could have visited more often. I hardly even knew him. At that very moment in my life, I wished I could go back years. To be able to do everything over again; only better.

I turned 34 the week my brother graduated high school. I didn’t go to the ceremony. I didn’t even send a card. I carry the shame with me everyday. I wish I got to see him graduate. I have very few memories with my brother because of our age difference. Now that I’m older and he’s gone, I’m regretful. The complete upheaval of my life made the almost 2,000 mile trip home unrealistic. I considered he might be hurt by my absence. But knew he’d forgive me once he was older. When he had some life under his belt. When he graduated college and got his first real job. Once he was married and had children of his own. I figured he’d understand…when he gets older.

He committed suicide 3 months after graduating high school. He wanted to study law and dreamed of one day serving on the Supreme Court. He wanted time to explore and mend his recently broken heart. He didn’t want to go to college right away. I was excited for him! I told him to see the world. Be daring. Be adventurous!  Make memories while he’s young and free.

It was his birthday 2 days ago. He would have been 19. I can’t even think about him without sobbing, even after all these months. My heart breaks knowing he was in so much pain. We did everything right. He didn’t want to die.

One thought on “Birthdays are the hardest

  1. God, sometimes I read these posts and I wish that I could meet some of you to talk. I am eight years older than my brother and I never went to his ball games or spent much time with him growing up. I was too caught up in my own teenage BS to care about some little brother. I had hoped as we got older that I could somehow make that up to him and that we could be closer and for a brief time after I moved out and he went to college we were closer but then I got married and moved out of state shortly after that. I have felt that I was never there for my little brother, that I failed him and that I was the worst older sister to him. He deserved so much better because he was such a sweet, sensitive and gentle little boy. I also carry so much shame about this and guilt. When I went to his celebration of life, I felt that I was on the outside looking in on everyone and in on his life and that I missed a chance to know an amazing human being and now I’ll never get that chance.

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