Last night I was slightly anxious going to sleep and not because I spent 13 hours in the car driving home from Chicago. A year ago I went to sleep not knowing how drastically life would change for my family in just a few short hours. You would think I’d remember every second of those wee hours of August 30, 2012… but I don’t. I remember every bit of emotion and feeling that went through my body though. At 3:00 am on August 30, 2012 I received a call from my mom that took me several minutes to comprehend.
“Three’s in the hospital, I’m on my way there now.”
“Is he okay? What happened?”
“He cut his throat… with that knife…”
“What? Was he playing around? Where was he? What happened?”
All I could hear was my mom frantic and emotional on the other end. At first I thought my brother was drunkenly goofing off with this knife at a friend’s and accidentally slit his throat. I literally pictured him playing with fire and trying to stick a sword down his throat for laughs… that’s just the kind of kid he is, he’s a goof. It took awhile for me to realize, that no, in fact he did it purposefully with intentions of ending his life.
A lot goes through my head as I read those words on my screen. It’s been a year and I still have a hard time accepting what happened. Periodically, I’ll have flash backs to that early morning… standing in front of my roommate’s door with tears streaming down my face trying to decide if I should wake her or not… Getting to the hospital and not knowing what would happen… crawling into his hospital bed when they let us see him and telling him I loved him knowing he wouldn’t remember it… and waiting… waiting for what seemed like eternity.
I have to admit, I’m struggling writing this… I’ve never shared this story before… and if you haven’t noticed I typically keep my posts close to surface deep when it comes to family. Writing about my brother was a hard decision, but one I’ve wanted to do for awhile because as painful of a memory it is, I’m proud of what today marks for him.
It took six months before I told anyone (minus my roommate and oldest friend). I didn’t know how to tell anyone, because I didn’t want to recognize it for what it was. It was painful watching my parents process it in different ways, to watch my sister deal with it in her own way, to feel like my family was slipping apart… the anger, the sadness, the fear. It was all so overwhelming. I love my brother, just as I love my sister, my dad, and my mom. I want the best for each of them in their lives. I wish we were closer. I wish we leaned on each other more than we do. I wish we could go back to times when we all enjoyed each other, when I looked forward to spending time with everyone together. With all these feelings building up, I didn’t know how to admit to someone what my brother had been through without spilling every other emotion that was going through me.
That changed. I realized that it was time to talk about it when my brother decided he was ready to share his story (check out his video here). He felt like he had a responsibility to share the what and the why in hopes of saving a life. I felt it my responsibility to help him achieve his goal.
He sat on my couch one late evening in January reading his story for the first time out loud. This was my first time ever hearing why or what was going through his head when he made this decision. My roommate and I were not prepared for what he had to say. By the end we were all in tears. My heart ached watching him come to terms with what he’d done. Dealing with this as someone who didn’t attempt it myself has been extremely painful, I can’t begin to imagine what it feels like to be in his shoes. But I’m proud of the steps he’s taken to make his second chance worth something. I know it will be a long road of ups and downs for all of us. My hope is that he knows we’re behind him… that we love and support him and truly want him to succeed.
Today is ironic. A date that, for him, was a decision to end his life and a date that now symbolizes a new beginning… Today, a landlord that knows nothing of his story handed him keys to his first apartment since he was 18. Today, exactly one year later, he’s taking a step forward toward a beautiful change. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of him regardless of any obstacles he is challenged with. I love my little brother with everything inside of me and I thank God every day that He gave him another chance… that He gave our family another chance.
If you know someone that has struggled with depression or emotional distress, take notice… talk with them, love them, be their support. You never know when you could make a difference in their life.
Three, congratulations. I’m proud of you. Keep pushing forward.