There were 7 years age difference between my brother and I, but you’d never know it with as close as we were. We also had different Dad’s which according to most people must have been the reason we looked nothing alike. But as far back as I can remember we were close. If either of us were sad, angry, sick, or stressed, the other seemed to just automatically know with no words spoken. Unknown to my parents and I until much later on, my brother began smoking Marijuana at age 14 with family members. He began sneaking out which caused issues between him and my parents, but I didn’t find out until later that during those early days he experimented with different drugs. He managed to function daily without getting caught, all the while attempting to build a life with long term careers. We worked at the same place in different positions and ate lunch together daily. He never showed signs he was doing any drugs other than Marijuana, and even swore to me many times he had quit that.
In 2011, he had a motorcycle accident with no helmet. While it seemed fairly minor, headaches began that he described as “crippling”, and was prescribed oxycodone. When those weren’t easing his pain, a “friend” of his introduced him to meth.
It was instantly noticeable to me that something was changing with my sweet brother. Both at work and in his personal life, things began to spiral out of control. He had worked at the same job for 19 years, and was a model employee who was flown all over the world to meet with customers. As a result of the change in him, he was no longer asked to travel and began getting written up for his attitude. My brother’s job was his passion, so I, along with his co-workers, knew something was not right. When we approached him with our concerns, he refused to admit anything but the headaches were the problem. As the years went by things gradually got worse, but all he would say was that he needed a better doctor to try something new for the headaches.
In August 2019, he was arrested at 3:45 AM after falling asleep in a car wash parking lot. He was charged with two possessions of controlled substances, paraphernalia charge, and a firearms charge. He was an avid gun collector, but had started selling his collection to purchase drugs. His fiance at the time refused to help get him out and was threatening to leave him, so I bailed him out with the agreement he would get help. He agreed to everything I asked….until he was released to me. He stepped back into the life he had been living and adamantly told me he didn’t have a problem. Things at work kept getting worse for him until he was let go of November of 2019 just shy of his 20 year anniversary there. He was hitting rock bottom but still refusing my help, swearing he did NOt have a drug problem. He managed to get another good job but was let go in just a few months without giving me a concrete reason. In May 2020, he was arrested again for meth and heroin, with intent to deliver, drug paraphernalia, resisting arrest, and four charges of firearms with bond set at $25,000. I refused to get him out but he began calling and begging me to help him every time he was allowed to use the phone. My mom was so worried that she began asking me to help him. He had developed a very bad infection from a spider bite and she was concerned that he was not getting the medical attention he needed.
I finally conceded and put my home up as collateral to bond him out, with the condition that he live with us and get into rehab. He agreed. Once home, he cried and told me that he was not my brother anymore. He was someone else. And he needed help. I arranged for him to go to a facility, but within a week he’d left my home and was barely returning my calls or texts.
On June 14, 2020, my big brother was found deceased in his work shed at the home he had shared with his ex-fiance.
Since that day I have asked myself so many questions.
What if I had just left him in jail? Why didn’t I just force him to go into rehab?
Why didn’t I try harder to help him? What could I have done differently?
The truth is he didn’t get sober because he didn’t truly want to get sober.
He had to want it for himself and admit that he needed help and he just couldn’t do that. I hate that truth and the day he left, a part of me died with him, and I felt myself change. I had days of not wanting to go on and I still have days I struggle with wanting to see him, wanting to hear his voice, wanting to help him. I know he’s at peace now, but does knowing that make my pain any easier? No, but I began dwelling on a different what if. What if my brother wasn’t done here? He may not physically be here any longer but I’m still here, and he’s part of me. He spent his life, even at his lowest points, helping others. He often reached out to the homeless giving when he could. I felt compelled to share his story because I know he would want to help others. I prayed for a year for God to help me figure out how to put this plan into motion, and I was given the opportunity to start a Surviving Sibling Support group. I pray each day my brother’s love and hope to help others shows through me in this group.
We are their voice and can help each other through the lowest of times that inevitably come. No one understands a siblings loss, but other siblings. Parents try, but their loss isn’t our loss.
If you are needing support, please reach out to us today. You are not alone!