Gordie’s Sister

My little brother killed himself in the early 1980’s. A long time ago, yes, but I still think of him, of the situation, so very often.
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I was in my 3rd year in a very competitive and rigorous university when he came to visit me from our home in the far south of the very large state of California – a place which was the seat, we found out much later, of his schizoid paranoid delusions.
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He came to visit me, and then settled in to a happy and peaceful place on my deck where he talked to people I could not see. I was scared for him – and for me.
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And so I tried, omg how I tried, to get him to see (my) reality. But he would not/could not.
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We clashed about him a getting a job, and I was harsh toward him about it. That job – over which we were SO at odds – is something I know now was nothing he could possibly manage. But back in the 1980’s, before the internet and before any real info about or medication for paranoid schizophrenia, I simply didn’t know – *at all* – how to help him.
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I thought he was malingering and had decided to remain soft, sweet, kind and very strange – and without a job – just as he’d been so long.
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I still (and will always, have always, shall always) feel intensely guilty I could not “fix” him. I was the oldest. The brightest. The most grounded of the four of us children. I was responsible. No matter how little I knew back then or what little there was available to know his illness, somehow I *should* have been able to fix him.
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And so … years. And years. Years. Years. Years. And years and years and years: Guilt remains.
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Guilt abounds and multiplies.
Guilt calls me names when I sleep.
Guilt lives.
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Guilt has been lodged in my soul since then, in the 1980’s, when it wedged itself deeply into my soul, into my identity. Guilt has become a part of who I am today. I never wanted it – but it’s part of who I am nonetheless.
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I am always: The girl who did not save her brother. The girl who cast her little brother away. The girl who did not care enough. The girl who was too selfish.
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The girl who let her little brother die.
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The girl who let her little brother kill himself.
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As much as anything else (good daughter, good mom, good friend, good citizen, fun, bright, big smile, ready laugh, hopeful, optimist, etc, etc, blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…
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I am and shall always be the girl who let her little brother kill himself.
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In the years since his suicide, since the time we were both so very young, I have learned these truths:
We are not our brothers/our children.
We did the best we could, with the tools we had.
We did.
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In my head, I know such is is true.
But in my heart, it will ever be true that I am the last one in the family to see him alive and, so, I am the one who didn’t do enough to prevent my little brother from killing himself. I carry the fault and cannot be absolved from the blame.
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In any case, I cannot absolve myself from this blame. Not ever.
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I am so very sorry, my little brother, that I didn’t know how to help you.
And I love you.
Always.
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I hope your way since then has been less tormented.
<3

3 thoughts on “Gordie’s Sister

  1. I lost my sister on April 22nd, 2018, not as long ago as your brother, but I also can’t shake this feeling of guilt I have.
    My sister was a bipolar Schizophrenic, and had been released from a hospital and seemed to be doing so well.
    I wasn’t overly hard on her, but often put off returning her emails and text messages, always thinking I’d just reply later when I wasn’t busy. Of course, that time never came.
    I was hoping over time the guilt might subside, but it’s been almost 18 months and like you, I think about it every day and the guilt hits me, wondering what might have happened if I’d have emailed and texted back.
    Anyway, so sorry for your loss, and I hope that eventually you’ll realize it wasn’t your fault. I pray every night that I’ll lose these feelings of guilt, but so far it’s just not working.

    1. My sister almost the exact same 🙁 since April 16, 2019
      I’ll never stop missing her.

      And I’m a guy, but to OP, “I’m that girl, too.” 🙁
      I have yet to come to the realization we did everything we could.
      And I think everyone on this website did because we just loved/love our siblings so much. :/

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