July 23 2010
Darkness creeps in like smoke under a door. This darkness fills the cracks and crevices of my heart and soul. The day my brother took his life he ended a part of mine. There was never a day I existed without him. He was always there.
There is such an emptiness left in the wake of his suicide. I see how others have coped with death and his death. I watched as my uncle was consumed by cancer and slowly died in his home. I thought he was still breathing because the oxygen machine was still going. Yet he was gone. I mourned and grieved but didn’t feel this hollow nothingness that flows through me. I have watched my aunt grieve the loss of her love. She is stuck and cant feel life. She is waiting for death to take her even though it is not her turn. For the past two years, I have tried to pull her out of her depression and alcoholism. I truly couldn’t handle watching her slowly kill herself. I didn’t understand how she felt.
Now I recognize the haunted empty look in my own eyes at the death of my brother. Envious that he could carry through with this violent act to end his life. It somehow seems more humane than the slow starvation of the soul that is infecting my aunt like the disease that killed my uncle.
My brother was a two-sided coin. He was smart, caring, generous, funny. But for each of these wonderful traits, he had a darkness that matched them. Alcoholism, anger, depression, fear. I would say that most people suffer from these emotions but my brother lived them in unison. He was in pain and laughed it off. He would drink and entertain. Each part of him lived simultaneously in conjunction with each other. All of his emotions were tied to the negative. The heavy darkness would always win the battle that he fought.
The people who were closest to him would eventually see this darkness that he carried around. Like a shadow that needs light to exist, this darkness sat in wait of time for Tom’s light to shine. It was his shadow to everything.
My brother recently told me that he couldn’t believe he hadn’t confided in me sooner. We were discussing growing up native kids, urban Indians in an all white school with one or two token black kids. This was the root cause of a lot of his anger and a lot of his comedy. My brother was called Chief and made fun of a lot more than I was. I remember him telling my mom that he hated everything about himself. He hated the way he looked. He hated being an Indian. He hated was the bottom line with everything.
This hatred started with himself and snowballed into other things in his life. Whatever he hated, he hated it with a passion. He threw everything he had into hating it. The last thing he said to me was he hated me. The anger and fierceness that he spoke to me told me that the darkness was ruling his mind and spirit. I knew he wasn’t kidding or blowing steam as he had so many times in the past. He was going to kill himself if he could. He spoke with conviction.
I had to call so many people and tell them that my brother ended his life. The hardest call was to my father. I felt terrible having to tell him such news over the phone. My aunties were just a grieved at this news. All who heard were shocked by this terrible event. I never was. Maybe it was my brother’s voice echoing that he was going to kill himself but I knew he had it in him to do.
The darkness that marks his soul marks mine as well. I know all to well the heavy feeling of falling victim to the dark abyss. Death sounds so much easier than fighting for life. Struggling daily to be happy. Wearing a smiling mask when all you want to do is die. My brother and I both bore the burden of these feelings. I often wonder if my being born was to help him cope with his feelings.
I was quite often the outlet for my brother to feel better. As children, he insulted me to make him feel more powerful. As grown ups, he would call me and vent a plethora of profanity at me that would make him feel better. Not everyone saw this side of him. Even as little kids, I knew he did these things to make himself feel better so I would take one for the team.
He always called me to vent to. He always called me to complain. He always called me when it mattered. He called me when he chose to end his life.