The Hammer

‘A little under four months ago my youngest brother took his own life.’  Such a strange way to say that someone killed themselves.  It sounds like he bundled up his one belonging, life, packed it in to a suitcase, hopped on a plane to somewhere, landed, grabbed a cab, paid for a motel, tipped the bellboy, sat on the bed, and unpacked this one last thing of his, life.  I suppose that it makes a poetic kind of sense, this stealing away with yourself, never to be seen again.

I believe that if you have the kind of mind that I do, a chaotic one, you have thought about the people in your life dieing.   Probably a lot.  In a variety of different ways.  Not because you want them to, but because there is a rush in concentrated emotion.  It’s also like a freebee.  They go but then they come back.  And that is the crux of my life long depression.  People I love going, then coming back, then going, and then maybe staying gone.  Who knows.  And there have been others besides Brandon, friends that I knew better.  At my age there will always be stitched up lacerations that throb every time it rains.  That’s one part of growing up, death, someone else’s, yours.  And then there are the deaths that happen in the heart and head.  Loss has a million faces.

This will make me seem cold, but it gets easier.  Or less hard.  (They mean the same thing but somehow ‘less hard’ seems more accurate.)  My dad used to smash his index finger with a hammer at least once a month.  It’s par for the course when you build houses and drink Busch lite like water.   By the time I was 13 you could pinch it, stab it with a pin, step on it, and he felt very little.  It only hurt when the hammer hit, and then not nearly as bad as it should have.  The pain lets you know that the finger is still attached to the hand, however tenuously.  So when I say it gets easier, what I mean is the pain is there, like a hammer, but it is just outside of my vision.

I know embarrassingly little about my little brother.   He was detail oriented and smart in a way that I am not.  He didn’t say much to me.  And when he did it was either very kind or deeply venomous.  I do not blame him for that.  I was a ghost in their life.  I made their mother cry and laugh, lose sleep, and brain cells.  Both of my brothers most assuredly hated me for part or most of their lives.  I came and went, bringing chaos with me.  I never really thought about what went on in his part of that world.  I was abysmally selfish.  I always thought there would be time to build a relationship with him.  Tomorrow.

The experiences that have made me who I am have always been laced with a “regret is a waste of time” theme.  And it is.  Would I have done things differently?  Of course.  Wouldn’t we all?  But this is what is.  There is no going back.  I watch my mother ride the bloody waves of grief and wish that I could throw her a rope, pull her in, and let her breath again.  I would do the same for all of my family, if I could.  But this isn’t only about me and what I can do.  We all know what I am and am not capable of.   I cannot rescue anybody.  But I can love them.  And I do.  No regrets.

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