Sunday, September 21, 2014

Death of a stranger... my brother

Recent, 2012
Death of a stranger…

Not many people know I have / had a brother, mostly because we haven’t spoken to each other in over ten years. He passed away earlier this month, and it wasn’t as though it was entirely unexpected, but it was sad for very complicated reasons. Gary was almost five years older than me, and for most of my life, I tried hard to forge some kind of relationship with him. He rejected those overtures, always. My dad once said that Gary should have been an only child, because he never accepted me from the day I was born. Most siblings outgrow that foolishness, some never do it seems.

Marrying the woman he loved
more than any other in 1980
The people who knew this often troubled man loved him. He had a quality about him that drew people, made them care. He was, in his younger years, a very handsome man. Charming, intelligent, and creative. He could have had it all. At an early age, he developed the addiction that would ultimately destroy his life and leave it in ruins. He was an alcoholic early on, and probably put more toxic substances in his body than most people would survive.

As with all addicts, the need over-ruled all other considerations when it got him firmly in its grasp. The amazing man he was slowly vanished. My brother was an artist, a musician, and a carpenter of considerable talent and skill. When he was straight and sober, he could charm the birds out of the trees as the expression goes, and it wasn’t at all difficult to love and admire him. To enjoy his company, and to care about what happened to him.

Holding his only child, she was 2.
The darker side of this man was one impossible to deal with on any rational level. I think in many ways he was so filled with fear, it paralyzed him and sent him running for someplace to hide. He chose booze and drugs as his escape. He was arrogant, annoying, and his temper was vicious when he was lost to his addiction. I remember once telling him he should treat himself with more kindness, and because he was sober and thinking at the time, he agreed. I think in many ways he was afraid people would somehow discover just how scared he was of his own failures. He covered it up with his arrogant asshole routine. In his clear moments, he saw the loss of the woman he loved more than any other he’d ever be or been involved with, and the loss of his daughter. His only child grew up without him because of his addictions. I’m sure he regretted that deeply.

There are more stories than I can remember, so many countless incidents of pain and heartbreak that drove deep and damaging wedges into our small family. My father died knowing his only son would never find any lasting happiness or direction. Our mother mourned him a long time ago, and always will. I knew him better than he liked, liked him better than he wanted to know. I hope that death has given him the peace he never seemed able to find in his life.


  1. Denyse...I am truly sorry for your loss. In 2012 I too lost a loved one to the same addictions. I have a hole in my heart and I miss him daily, but we have to keep living. It was a beautiful remembrance. JT

  2. Hugs honey. We can only pray that he has found peace. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  3. My thoughts are with you during this time of sadness. I too lost my brother in Dec 2012 by his own hand. He also was born in 1956 and it is sad when we lose our family members. HUGS

  4. My friend, I'm so sorry for your loss. I will be thinking of you and praying for you.

  5. So sorry for you and your family, Denyse. I hope he can finally find peace. Blessed be, my friend. *hugs*

  6. Denyse, I am truly sorry for yours and your family's loss.
    May he be at peace now and his demons long gone.
    Blessed Be sweet lady.

  7. Ah, Denyse, such a hard story to read and I am so sorry. What really struck home is how similar your story is to that of my brother, who I have not seen/spoken to for about 10 years.He did not have substance abuse, although if he drank he became something of a monster; but certainly there were mental health issues that were never addressed because he refused. He never had a partner or moved out and tbh often made my parents' life hell. We often tried to empathise with him, but he seemed to have no empathy to others. Even when my mother passed on, he was up to nasty tricks regarding her will. Some people cannot be helped sadly, because they won't help themselves. Wishing you peace and consolation; you can only do your best in these situations.

  8. I am deeply sorry for your loss. One can only hope (if there is an afterlife) that your brother finds happiness there. Thank you for that story.

  9. My condolences, also, on your loss.

  10. They say you mourn the loss of the relationship that could have been and that is true, but it is also true that we love the broken people and mourn them for all their imperfections and unhappiness. It is never easy to lose family, but to lose a sibling who never figured out how to really live is most painful of all. Hugs and much love!


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