Then I began my own journey and I so regretted all of those words. I had been like someone who doesn't have kids, telling a new mom how to parent. I began to understand on the deepest and most painful level how difficult, and how searing that letting go could be.
My brother lived in San Francisco for many years. I have to say, if one is mentally ill, addicted, and unable to care for one's self, San Francisco is the place to be. He was well taken care of there despite his many many physical, behavioral, and mental issues. His support team liked him. Each person that I have talked to has said something to the effect of....."yeahhhh, he had his issues, but he sure was a nice guy." And every time they say that I cry.
Early Wednesday morning I got "the call." The medical examiner had found my number in his things. I was always his emergency contact after our parents died... He was gone. Had taken his own life the day before. I wasn't shocked, but I was. He had made multiple attempts through the years but then would put the brakes on. "Nahhh, not today."
I am shocked at how deeply sad I am at his passing. I have thought over the last few days so much of our childhood. Our troubled parents and their fighting and how my brother would get so nervous. His little blue eyes would twitch and blink hard, he would nervously lick his lips until they were raw, and he would bounce off the walls and spin and be hard to get to settle down. I remember when we were little and shared a room and he would have bad dreams. He would get up and run to the wall, grab a stuffed toy or his blanket and scrub the wall and you couldn't convince him that nothing was there. I remember my mom trying to get him to give up his pacifier. I remember in kindergarten him being labeled hyperactive and then put on Ritalin. If they only knew the stress we both lived with.
My mom, bless her heart never gave up on him. She would say, "He's sick." She understood on a deep intrinsic level some of the struggles he faced. She had everyone and anyone praying for him. She loved him unconditionally and eventually she learned how to do that without compromising her own well being.
My favorite story and memory of my brother is when my mom was dying. We were getting so close to the end and all of my mom's kids had contacted her and said their good-byes. All the loose ends were tied up, forgiveness granted and received, it was a beautiful peaceful time....except that my brother had gone MIA and I had no way of finding him. Finally, my mom had been laying in a coma like state for the past 10 days. No food intake, and only small drops of water from a sponge that I would swab her mouth with. The nurse asked me what I thought she was hanging on for....I told her that I couldn't find my youngest brother.
And then he called. I told him I would put him on speaker phone and hold the phone up for her to hear his voice. I asked him to tell her he was ok....whether it was true or not didn't matter at this point. What happened next will forever be how I choose to remember him. In a bold strong voice he said, "Mom, I'm ok! I'm doing just fine! You don't have to worry about me anymore. You can go on now and be in peace. I'm alright and I love so much."
She died 6 hours later. She had waited to hear from her youngest child. Her lost sheep. She had to know that he was ok before she could let go.
Later when I called to tell him that she had gone, I said, "She waited for you. You mattered and you were the one who could set her free and you did, in the most beautiful, selfless way. You mattered!"
Rest in peace Mark. I pray that mom and Jesus were standing waiting to welcome you in, bathing you in the grace and compassion that you so desperately needed.
Sept. 15. 1966 - April 19, 2016