Saturday, June 16, 2018

My brotherly loss

My brother died on May 31 in Corpus Christi, at the age of 50. It is not the phone call I wanted to get but one that I had been expecting for a couple years. Today, is the first quiet, alone day I have had in the house to really be sad about his life and death.

I think it is poignant that this photo I have carried around since we lived in Scotland, has all but faded.

My brother had not been doing well for the last 20 years, drug abuse, alcoholism, living between a prison cell and under a bridge. It is hard for me to imagination what kind of hell his life has been for the last two decades. These are choices he made and for all the help that mom and I tried to give him for over 20 years, none of it seemed to matter.

Yes, I paid for his cell phone and that allowed him to be in constant contact with mom while she worried 24/7 about where he was eating or sleeping. Yes, I sent him money via Walmart every time he called in trouble or needing something... food, clothes, gas money. Yes, I bought him that cheap car when he said he had a great job and just needed a little help. The same car he wrecked the next day and was returned to jail. Yes, I paid for him to come back and forth to Seattle to see his family, hoping that that would make him want to be a part of us a "real" life again, in a good way. Yes, Yes, Yes! I think, what else could I have done? My brain screams out in sadness, anger and rage at him but my heart is broken into a million pieces.

This little kid, I knew him from the moment he came into this world, I babysat him, changed his diapers, read to him, was his sister and friend. This little kid, my brother is now dead from years of self-abuse.

After the coroner asked questions and said this might be a homicide because of the amount of blood at the scene. Which, was a convenience store he was known to sleep behind. The coroner called back to tell me that he had died of natural causes and his liver literally exploded. To imagine my baby brother dying from vomiting blood until he died was more than my brain could deal with.

I have been going through his personal papers sent to me years ago, one of the many returns to prison, sending stuff to his relatives. I have been reading his 12 step paper about his guilt of having treated his family so badly. About his drug abuse. About how he felt when his parents divorced, when he had to move, when his dad basically gave up on him. His private feelings written in his hand, his sorrow for his life is so hard for me to read. And my mind goes back to what else could we have done?

He created so much chaos for the last 30 years that it is hard for me to think of a "good time". My mind has to wonder back all the way to Scotland. Like our family trip to Inverness when he and I walked around the city late at night. Or to Breckenridge, when I took him and a car load of his friends to the drive-in.

All my other memories are terrible, gut-wrenching ones. Jail, car thefts, stealing my mom blind, me kicking him out of the house, me finding his brand new car mom had bought him at a drug dealers house. Me, calling the police on him and said drug dealers (with the car) on a nightly basis. Me, driving him to the hospital for various reasons. Me trying to sooth my mom when she discovered something he had done, stolen her guns, television, her jewelry. When I think about my mom and mine relationship, it was so intertwined with Mac's bad behavior and honestly, I got so tired of being the good kid trying to make things right. Or saving Mac from himself.

He was very close with mom. When she passed away, he was devastated and we cried together many, many hours over the phone. When I discovered mom's life insurance was left to both us ... and realizing he would get $12,000 in one lump sum, I was really afraid for him. I begged him to let me take care of it for him. That money could get him a place to live, food to eat, he could have a some normality for a bit. Back and forth, and he ended up taking that money and packing up his other homeless friends and moving to Corpus Christi, I knew something terrible was just around the corner.

The day after he took that money, he called me to post bail for him. At that point, I said, do not call me back. After years of trying to make something right, it has just gone completely wrong. And I simply had had enough of his bad behavior.

I was so guilty about having a home, a family, a meal in the table, a bed when I knew my brother was struggling for his next bottle of cheap alcohol or his next fix, his next place to sleep. It was so hard to accept that it destroyed my mom's life daily to think of her son in those conditions. It was so hard not to be so very angry at what he had done to his life, his kids' lives, his family's life. I want to cry my big, heart-broken tears and try to remember the sweet times I had with my baby brother. Instead of searching for him on mughots to see if he has been arrested lately. I am hoping he is at peace now.

This was the last time Mac came to Seattle to see us. It was a good visit. 

yellow polyester suit? What was I  thinking. And matching yellow shoes!


Shelley Noble said...

I'm so sorry, Kim. Much love and support here for you at this time of grief.

Kim Carney said...

Thank you so much Shelley!!! I need it right now :(

Shelley Noble said...

Mac's life seems fully tragic. I don't imagine there's anything else you or anyone else could have done to save him any more than was done. You loved him. And in the end, despite all the chaos, that's the message he got.

Big hug to you. Take some time to process the losses. One day soon you'll be able to breathe more freely again.

Kim Carney said...

Exactly what David keeps reminding me.

s'mee said...

Oh mercy. I am sorry you have to go through this.

I know you are feeling angry and frustrated, but I think these feelings are completely normal reactions to mourning the loss of a brother and the life he chose to lead, but also mourning the brother you never had or knew; and that's ok. It's ok to be screaming mad that he couldn't get it together and be who you needed him to be, that he never apologized for the wrongs he committed against you and your family, that he left one more mess for you to clean up; and it's also ok to cry about missing that little brother you wanted and never got - and you truly loved them both.

I completely agree with those comments above that reflect his knowing that he was loved -even through the screw ups, he knew you loved him, and he knew he had gotten to a line where it was too hurtful for you to watch. It is not only 'ok', but necessary to walk away from the types of behaviours he was choosing.

I am sorry that you are left to pick up the pieces, again. However, this is the last gift you will do for him; and in (probably a very long) time, you will be grateful that you were the one he could always count on. Please find solace in the fact that you did the ultimate hard thing by being the middle man, the absolute worst place to be in a family, and you did your best to keep your mother safe and your brother on a path of healthy living and good decisions. And yes, now, for the first time since your very young years, you are free to feel safe, and without that constant worry in the back of your mind. It will be ok. What's more, *you* will be ok.

I hope that you are surrounded by your beautiful family, and that you can find positive things to feel and embrace. I send you all my good feelings, thoughts, and warm hugs.

ELFI said...

quel récit dramatique, un sort terrible, mais à chacun sa vie.. la famille est impliqué, c'est ça qui est triste.. de tout coeur avec toi...

Unknown said...

Oh Kim.... I'm so very sorry for what you and your brother have endured. Alcohol and drugs is a vicious captive. It's over now and you are both free - hopefully your brother is at peace now and praying that you find peace too. Hugs

Joanne S said...

This could have been what I wrote about my youngest brother--but I was not as kind as you were. I said no. Walked away.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kim,

I just read through this story after finding your blog while doing some research on reaction diffusion in nature. I wanted to take a second from work to send some warm anonymous wishes. I hope that you've been healing emotionally since this post. It sounds like your brother had a hard ride, and I believe he's in a more peaceful place now.

It looks like you have a knack for finding and sharing beauty from all over the planet, and I hope you continue to find the nice moments.

Wishing all the best,

Kim Carney said...

Austin, thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

Kim Carney said...

Joanne S ... isn't that sad to watch a life become such a tragedy! I am sorry for your loss. Walking away at the end was hard, but a must for me. xoxoxox