Over the last couple of months, we slowly started returning to some sort of fragile normalcy. We finally made progress on some of E’s issues with eating, switching formulas and bottle nipples. While there’s still some moments of randomness or frustration, our lives began to fall into a bit more of a routine.

We made plans. It was going to be a wonderful week. Sunday we were going up to see friends and take E to a pumpkin patch. Monday Arthur took a half day off to go to an appointment and then celebrate my birthday. I was looking forward to responding to the comments on my last two blog posts. Thursday, an appointment for E and going to see my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for dinner.

I mildly strained my back Friday night. Nothing too major, and while I wouldn’t be able to carry anything, I was still allowed to walk around Sunday morning as long as Arthur pushed the baby in stroller and took care of the bags.

I work my Saturday overnight shift and Sunday morning dawns beautiful, blue, crisp, a perfect fall day.

About ten minutes before we pull in the parking lot at the pumpkin patch, my father calls me. This is odd to say the least. My parents know my schedule. I know they would not be calling me at a time when I would typically be asleep on a normal Sunday unless something is wrong. My father tells me that he’s gotten a call that there is something wrong with my younger brother. My parents are heading into the city. I tell him to call as soon as he knows anything.

We meet our friends because what else is there to do? Buy donuts. Talk and laugh. Walk around. Head back into the pumpkin patch area to pick out the perfect pumpkin for Halloween.

My phone rings.

And then there are words: “Passed away.” “Shot himself.” “Dead.”

Before I know it, I am screaming at the top of my lungs. No. NO. NO. NO!

Horrified parents and children are staring at me, the beautiful blue sky and sunshine incongruous now.

Our friends are lovely. They give me hugs and say the right thing, the only thing: that they are so sorry. Arthur somehow gets the three of us to the car because all I can think is we need to get to the city. There’s nothing we can do. But we need to be there.

When we arrive, we are led to the next door neighbor’s apartment. This is the man who heard my brother’s significant other’s screams when she discovered the scene upon arriving at the home she and my brother shared and helped her call 911 and notify authorities. This neighbor, in a display of extraordinary, generous hospitality, has vacated his apartment to allow all of us to congregate there and be close. We are not allowed into my brother’s apartment because first the police and the coroner must do their work and then we must wait for the special cleaners to come.

This is what you learn when your loved one commits suicide: that there are people whose job it is to come clean up the physical manifestations of the violence and horror.

There are so many awful details. The services of a funeral home must be engaged. There will be hours of sorting through papers and belongings and legalities. The gun, in a truly inhumane bit of police procedure, must be picked up that afternoon from the precinct.

I will most likely never see my only sibling again. The initial report is that the body is not suitable for viewing.

I am so sad. I am also angrier than I have ever felt before.

E smiles and coos at everyone. I know she must know that something is wrong, but I am grateful that she is happy and will not remember this day. My mother cuddles her close. This is the only thing I can offer.

We drive home.

Now the hardest part begins, the stretching minutes, hours, days of brokenness.


19 thoughts on “Shattered

  1. Oh my god, I am so so so so so so sorry. I know it doesn’t help much, but I will be thinking of you. Having survived the suicides of several close friends (but not family members, which seems so much more difficult) all I can say is that it will be very hard for a long time, but it will get better.

  2. Lissie

    I have been following for a while but have never commented. I just wanted to offer my condolences and tell you that you family is in my thoughts.

  3. I keep clicking this to write something and everything sounds stupid and helpless. It’s just too horrible. I wish I knew you in person so I could hug you instead of typing these futile letters. Sending so much love your way, xoxo.

  4. nonsequiturchica

    A is right- I have no idea what to say and anything I write just sounds silly. I’m so sorry about your brother. I will be thinking of you and your family.

  5. sewingbutterfly

    I am so sorry 😦 there is nothing anyone can say to ease your burden of grief, except to say we are all thinking about you and your family at this most difficult time.

  6. My hand is over my mouth. I am so sorry. I am so so sorry. I wish I were there in the room right now so I could hug you because words are really meaningless in this moment.

  7. I am so, so sorry. There is so little I can say. I know we’ve never met, but I have followed you for so long. You have been through so much heart ache. I can’t even imagine. Sending you love and thoughts.

  8. I am so, so sorry for this awful loss and experience. I am thinking of you and your family as you wade through the aftermath of your brother’s death. This is a beautiful post about such a tragic loss, I hope your words help bring you peace and help you to make sense of what can’t be made sense of. In my heart, I’m hugging you.

  9. No words seem adequate. I feel deep empathy for you. God. Please nourish your good self in whatever ways you can. I’m thinking of you and wishing peace for your family. When I worked on the suicide crisis hotline I found it good to hold a person who had committed suicide in a sphere of white light…I don’t know why exactly….I’ll do that for your brother, for whatever that’s worth. Love to you and your little one. I’m so glad you have help and support.

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