Warning: This is not a happy blog post. I apologize in advance for the language. But it is the truth, and the truth can help set others free. At least that is my hope.
It was a lovely night on March 19, 2013. I came home from the hairdresser’s, feeling happy and content. My five-year-old son had built a fort for us to sleep under. We went to bed peaceful and joyful, knowing that the next day was the first day of Spring. The birds would be chirping, the sun would be shining, the frost would be breaking, the good times were coming.
I awoke at 3:45 in the morning to the phone ringing. I looked at the Caller ID and it said “Catherine xxxx” (my sister’s name). My heart was leaping in my chest, for I knew that there could only be one reason why I would be awoken at that hour. My first thought was, “someone is dead”. I abruptly answered the phone, frightened out of my mind to find out who it was. My sister was crying hysterically. POUND POUND POUND, I could hear my heart beating in my chest. “Carol, It’s Joey”, she said. “What is wrong?”, I asked. “He is dead”. “What happened?”, I asked. To paraphrase, she told me he had taken his life. I cannot tell you what she actually said, as it has to do with the method and the manner with which he was found. I just can’t go there.
I am a Christian woman, yet in that moment, my mouth lost track of that. All I kept saying was “what the fu#k?, what the fu#k?, what the fu#k?”.
I went outside. The birds were not chirping. The sun was not shining. The frost was not breaking. The good times were not coming.
The policy at my work, at a local psychiatric hospital, was to call in by 4 or 5 am to cancel for your shift. I called the night nurse, Renee. I liked Renee. She was funny and cheerful and spunky. I called her and said, “Renee, my brother killed himself”. “Oh my God, Carol”, she said. “I will let them know you aren’t coming in”. “Oh, but I am”, I said. “I just needed to talk to someone, and I knew you would be up”. You see, I knew I would be alone that day, if I stayed home from work. I couldn’t be alone. I wanted to be with the caring people that I worked with, they were social workers and psychologists and psychiatrists. They would shelter me, I knew. And shelter me they did. I made it through my 8.5 hour shift. I was shell-shocked. I will forever be grateful to them for their outpouring of love that day.
After calling work, and letting my husband sleep until a decent hour, I climbed the stairs and woke up my husband. “It is Joey”, I said. “He is dead”. I told him what happened, how he did it, how they found him. “You better cancel work”, he said. “I can’t”, I said. And then I just kept repeating “what the fu#k?”.
My brother was 25 years old. He had a small child. He had his whole life ahead of him. And it was the first day of Spring.
What the fu#K?
Some say, suicide took him. Some say, depression did. Some say, a weakness of character. I knew it was none of those things. A silent, deadly killer took my brother’s life. It murdered him around midnight of the first day of Spring. Overpowered him, overtook him, struggled with him, wrestled with him. Not just at midnight. For years beforehand. This killer, he is insidious and potent. He does not discriminate. He will take whatever and whoever crosses his path. He knows no class, race, social status, pedigree, religion, etc. His name is Heroin, and his alias is Pain. And I hate him. That murderous, shameful character.
My brother had many advantages in life. He was raised by two loving parents, he had 7 loving sisters, he had a beautiful 2 year-old daughter, he had so much musical talent, a magnetic personality, he was smart. He was remarkably handsome. His father was wealthy. Growing up, he lived in a mansion on the Potomac River, with what was practically a hotel suite for a bedroom. He had a college education, had been schooled in some of the finest private schools. He drove a Mustang sports car. He oozed coolness. But that mother fu#ker, Heroin, he just didn’t care.
Some day I will meet Heroin face to face. I have never been a fighting woman, but I will knock his lights out. I will make him bleed with the pain that he has made ooze from my bones. I will knock him out with a sucker punch. I will kick him when he is down. I will spit on him, and declare, “What the fu#K?’
This is not a happy story. Unlike my other blog posts, there will be no happy ending. Three years have gone by, and the pain is still with me.
Heroin, he broke a family apart. He left a family fractured. He left adoring sisters blaming and hating one another. Did I say I hate that mother fu#ker? I cannot say it enough.
My brother, he is with me always. He visits me in my dreams. He watches over me. It sounds hokey, but he sends me little messages from beyond. That is the message that I will choose to focus on. But the pain, the questions, the why’s, they are here to stay. At least until the next life.
The closest thing to a happy ending I can give to you is this: this story doesn’t have to be you, or anyone that you love. Pay close attention to those that you love. Never take their safety, mental health, sobriety, what have you, for granted. Pull out all the stops if you are afraid for the safety of someone. I had a premonition once, months beforehand. A vision in my minds eye. I can remember it, the exact moment, and location, on the back porch of my house. I reasoned it away and told myself I was being ridiculous. I have to live with that.
And please, don’t think that because you have an educated, loving, supportive, healthy family that Heroin can’t make it’s way into your life. That’s what I thought. I wasn’t looking for the signs, because I just didn’t think it could happen to my family. No one is immune.
If you are feeling suicidal, do anything and everything you can to get help. If you have a substance abuse problem, there is help out there. God does miracles every day. Spring can come for you.
Please, do whatever you have to do, to get help, so that you, or someone you love, doesn’t have to say, “What the fu@k?”
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255