Monthly Archives: November 2007

Status

I still can’t believe my brother is gone. We’ve been living with this for over a week now and it doesn’t seem real. I know that it is going to be weird for a good long time to come but I still want to fight back and say NO! Once it was determined that he was brain dead my parents started asking about organ donation. They really wanted my brother to live on in some way and impact someone else positively. Many tissue and blood tests were done on my brother to start the process and that is when we learned that he had HIV. This was a complete shock to all of us.(His wife ran to the hospital and got herself tested and thank goodness she is negative.) We don’t know when he found this out, if at all. It just opens up so many more questions about what he did and adds an additional layer of sadness to everything. His HIV status meant that he couldn’t donate organs and give the gift of life to another person and that makes me so very very sad. If he did know I know that he would have been devastated by the news but having HIV is not a death sentence. Many many HIV positive people live long, happy and healthy lives! My brother was one of the smartest people I know. He was an informed person. He listened to NPR, he read the newspaper. Part of me wants to believe that he knew his status because it gives some small kind of reason to what he did. I also wonder that if he did know, did he do this because he thought that he had given it to his wife too? I guess that it doesn’t matter in the end. It all still adds up to the fact that he killed himself, he took himself out of this life with us and there is nothing that can be done to change that.

I wondered if I should tell you all about his status internets. I wondered if it was too private a detail to disclose to the whole world. Then I realized that it doesn’t matter. It is not something to be ashamed of. If my brother knew and he felt ashamed then my not talking about it will just perpetuate that. I don’t care how he got it. There are plenty of people out there who would judge an HIV positive person negatively simply for being HIV positive. But you know what internets, those people are haters and I never care what they think anyway.

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Bedtime

The other night when I was tucking P into bed I asked her if she was looking forward to seeing Lola and Grandpa again. We are going to their house this weekend. She said yes. I told her that what her uncle did was making Lola, Grandpa, Mommy and Daddy all very sad and I told her that she might see them crying. She nodded her head to tell me that she understood. I said that her uncle had a sickness in his mind and that the sickness made him hurt himself. She looked at me and asked, “well, why didn’t he go to the doctor?”
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His People

I went back to work yesterday. I was able to hold it together pretty well. I knew that some people knew and some people didn’t know. I wrote an email to everyone outlining what happened and saying thank you to those that had reached out to me. It saved me from repeating the story a million times. It probably made everyone a little uncomfortable, but that is understandable. Suicide will do that I guess. I only teared up a couple of times. Once when I received cards from my co-workers. One that everyone signed – just like a birthday card(!) and one from one of my bosses that was more personal. When they had heard what happened last week they shared with me that their grandfather had committed suicide also. I also got sad when I read an email from one of my brother’s friends. He said that he’s been out of touch with most everyone from their group of friends except for my brother. Many of the other members of the group say the same thing. He wrote, “he was the center of our social circle.” I know how much his friends meant to him. I just can’t believe he didn’t let them help him. He had to know that they would have done anything for him. I know that I can’t say the same about my old friends.

I also had to call the funeral home to start making arrangements for the memorial service. We are going to hold it in our hometown, Great Neck, NY. Great Neck is and was a predominently Jewish town. Growing up my family was one of the few that was not Jewish. All of our friends were Jewish. The funeral home is right by the train station and is easily accessible from the tri-state area. When I first called them they said that if I wanted a Rabbi they could arrange that for me. I asked if it was OK that we weren’t Jewish and they said it was fine. I wanted to be sure that my mom felt good about it too. It’s not that she is bigoted or anything like that, I just wanted to know that she’d be OK with him being in a place that will probably have stars of david on the walls. She is Roman Catholic. Like I’ve said before, my brother was in no way religious and actively questioned the existance of God – especially after events like September 11. I think that he’d appreciate his memorial being held in this place. I think he’d feel that he was with his people.

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Church

Yesterday I went to the 8:30 service at Alice’s church. I walked there even though it was only 20-something degrees out. It was clear and sunny and the church felt warm and welcoming once you got through the heavy wooden doors. I didn’t recognize anyone there though everyone I did speak with wished me a smiling good morning. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t smiling. The service was good. They were celebrating Christ the King Sunday so there was lots of talk of Fathers and Sons. I liked the hymns and the minister’s lesson about needing to stand up in the word of God. I’m not religious and my brother most certainly wasn’t but I want to learn more about it and hope that it will help add some more meaning to my life. As I walked out the minister greeted me and I introduced myself by saying that I was a friend of Alice Potter’s. She seemed to remember me from the funeral. Then I told her what had happened. She immediately put her giant arm around me and talked gently to me. She told me that my brother had a sickness in his heart and that is what caused him to do this thing. She also said that God was there to hold him the second he left us and then she prayed with me. I cried and sank into her shoulder. She said that they would remember my brother during the next service. I felt good about going and I want to go back again. I don’t know how my brother would feel about me becoming a regular church goer following what he did, he probably wouldn’t like it. But you know what? I don’t give a damn what he would think.

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Coming Home

My parents came home last night. They called me from the car they took back from the airport. I can’t even fathom their pain. All the planning, shopping, cleaning, hoping they did for this year’s Thanksgiving visit must feel like a cruel dirty trick now. How naive and innocent they were. We all were. We never dreamed that someone we loved so much could do something so final and terrible to us.

Now that this has happened it has made me want to reach out to a lot of people that I haven’t spoken to in a long time. I’ve really lost touch with all of my girlfriends from High School and College. The various reasons why seem so insignificant now. My brother and I really used to think of our friends as part of our family. Our own little family could be so maddening sometimes. Even though there were four of us, it often felt like the loneliest place. I hope that wherever he is now that he is free from that particular pain. Loneliness always felt like being stuck in the very smallest room with an even smaller door.

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Pony rides are the best medicine

Yesterday we visited a local farm. P got to pet a furry brown goat, feed a baby lamb, pet fluffy bunnies and have a pony ride. Her smile was eight miles wide the whole time. It beamed its happiness into my heart. I’m getting so so tired of being sad. I needed a little smile beam from my baby.

 

 

If my brother hadn’t gone and done this insane thing I know I would have been bitching and moaning about the whole trip to my parent’s house and it makes me feel so petty and guilty about it now. I would gladly take the four hour car trip and listening to my dad and brother arguing over nothing to this bizzaro-world alternative. Let this be a lesson to you internets. Hindsight is 20/20 and the perspective from this end is a real kick in the ass.

 

 

I’ve been receiving emails and phone calls from many of my brother’s old friends from grade school through to High School. Without fail they’ve all told me that they were in regular (sometimes daily) contact with him. None of them had any inkling that he was going to do this. Without fail they’ve all told me how much they loved him and what a special person he was. And without fail they’ve told me that if they had known they would dropped everything to be by his side in the deep dark hole he’d fallen into. They would have carried him out on their backs.

 

 

This is such an unbelievable waste.
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Thankful

I left work early on Wednesday, went to my favorite store and bought food to make a small Thanksgiving for us at home. My oven doesn’t work so I had to get a pre-cooked turkey breast and make everything on the stove top. We felt that we had to make something out of the holiday for the sake of P. When the three of us sat at the table and started putting food on our plates she said that we couldn’t eat yet. Not until we had said our thanks. She then instructed us to clasp our hands together and led us in the little poem they say before lunchtime at her school.

Thank you for the food we eat
Thank you for the friends we meet
Thank you for our work and play
Thank you for our sunny day
Hello everybody
How are you
How are you
How are you
Hello everybody
How are you
We’re so happy that you’re here

I just love her so much. So very very much.

Mine
His
Hers

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Thanksgiving 2007

I feel like I have no words today. I wish that I was writing this from my dad’s desk. I wish that I had lots of funny, whiny complaints for you about how my family was driving me crazy. Unfortunately today, I only have the crazy. My brother is going to be removed from life support within the next couple of days. My parents have made arrangements for organ donation so that he can still live on (in spite of my brother’s actions I suppose). Once the organ donation is sorted out they’ll remove the tubes. Since he is not really breathing on his own, it should be very quick.

He must have been planning this for a while. His wife told me that he had given the landlord his rent check at the beginning of the month but asked him to hold it and not cash it until after the 19th.

I’m angry that he couldn’t just have told us that he wasn’t coming home. My mom would have been really upset and sad but he could have saved her from the world of pain he’s now given her. Maybe he felt that it was one more failure and he couldn’t bear it. I want to shake him and say, man up a**hole!

My husband told P all about it last night. I was on my way upstairs too but the phone kept ringing. She and I will talk about it more. He told her that her uncle had a sickness in his head that made him want to hurt himself. She had been really looking forward to traveling to my parents house and having Thanksgiving there. They’ve been studying it in school the whole month. He said that he looked at her and she had big honking tears streaming down her face. When we were talking about it afterwards G got all choked up. He’s mad at my brother for hurting his baby. We’re going to try to make a nice homey Thanksgiving here for her (and for us). I left work early yesterday and bought a bunch of food. I think I might have been the only one tearing up in the produce aisle.

I’m not sure what else to say right now. I’m thankful for my life – even with all the crap that 2007 has bestowed upon me. I’m so very thankful for my husband. He is truly my rock. I fall in love with my daughter every day. She is my light and I love the person that she is becoming. I know that my brother didn’t have that. Lots of people loved him but he didn’t know it, or didn’t want to know it.

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Old Photo Wednesday

Father and Son somewhere in 1962

Brother and Sister June 1966

NYC June 2002

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