Dear Brian,

Friday, July 5th it will mark 3 years to the day that I last say you. That really pisses me off.

I haven’t ever been mad at you for taking your own life… but I’m angry at the situation.  I’m angry that I’ve spent the last 3 years without you.  I’m angry that not a day goes by that I don’t cry at least once because I’m missing you. I’m angry that I have to miss you like I do for the rest of my life.  I’m angry at myself for not being able to save you! And, I’m finding that I’m often mad thinking about anyone who ever hurt you.  Sometimes I can’t help but think that each hurtful thing ever done or said to you over all of your 35 years as one more thing chipping away at your fragile self-worth and already-weakened desire to continue to live in this world.

I’m struggling so much financially and it is such an enormous trigger for me.  I know how hard things were for you at the end and when I find myself panicking about money and trying so hard to make ends meet on my own I can’t help but think back to how trapped you felt knowing you were going to lose your house.  Your depression had deepened so much that finding work again was something you just didn’t have the energy for… and in hindsight I’m sure you didn’t even see the point knowing full well that you had already planned when you were going to die.  I worry about my finances every single day and it only reminds me of how much you struggled too and I really wish I could stop thinking about it because I get caught up in a whirlpool of thoughts and reliving your last few months over and over again.

I’m angry that every single time I see a 2-door red Saturn Coupe my mind goes back to the afternoon of July 5, 2010 when I stood in the doorway of the Minneapolis airport after you dropped me off and I watched your car drive away.  I’ll never understand why but in my heart I knew I’d never see you again, and I didn’t. I could not stop sobbing when I got inside the airport because I somehow had already begun grieving your loss though you were still here; it truly felt like your spirit had already left and I sensed there would be very little I could do to keep you here.

I’m angry that each time I drive along William Cannon Drive I again relive Wednesday, October 13, 2010.  I remember getting off of the bus after work and running all 8 blocks in a tear-filled panic to get home to check my email to see if I’d heard back from you yet and hoping what I thought had happened really hadn’t.  In fact, Mom and I both hate Wednesdays so much now.  Each time we look at the clock we think, “I left him a message about now” or “I made the call to the police about this time” or “This is the moment when I got the call that would

Dear Brian,

Friday, July 5th it will mark 3 years to the day that I last say you. That really pisses me off.

I haven’t ever been mad at you for taking your own life… but I’m angry at the situation.  I’m angry that I’ve spent the last 3 years without you.  I’m angry that not a day goes by that I don’t cry at least once because I’m missing you. I’m angry that I have to miss you like I do for the rest of my life.  I’m angry at myself for not being able to save you! And, I’m finding that I’m often mad thinking about anyone who ever hurt you.  Sometimes I can’t help but think that each hurtful thing ever done or said to you over all of your 35 years as one more thing chipping away at your fragile self-worth and already-weakened desire to continue to live in this world.

I’m struggling so much financially and it is such an enormous trigger for me.  I know how hard things were for you at the end and when I find myself panicking about money and trying so hard to make ends meet on my own I can’t help but think back to how trapped you felt knowing you were going to lose your house.  Your depression had deepened so much that finding work again was something you just didn’t have the energy for… and in hindsight I’m sure you didn’t even see the point knowing full well that you had already planned when you were going to die.  I worry about my finances every single day and it only reminds me of how much you struggled too and I really wish I could stop thinking about it because I get caught up in a whirlpool of thoughts and reliving your last few months over and over again.

I’m angry that every single time I see a 2-door red Saturn Coupe my mind goes back to the afternoon of July 5, 2010 when I stood in the doorway of the Minneapolis airport after you dropped me off and I watched your car drive away.  I’ll never understand why but in my heart I knew I’d never see you again, and I didn’t. I could not stop sobbing when I got inside the airport because I somehow had already begun grieving your loss though you were still here; it truly felt like your spirit had already left and I sensed there would be very little I could do to keep you here.

I’m angry that each time I drive along William Cannon Drive I again relive Wednesday, October 13, 2010.  I remember getting off of the bus after work and running all 8 blocks in a tear-filled panic to get home to check my email to see if I’d heard back from you yet and hoping what I thought had happened really hadn’t.  In fact, Mom and I both hate Wednesdays so much now.  Each time we look at the clock we think, “I left him a message about now” or “I made the call to the police about this time” or “This is the moment when I got the call that would irriversibly change my life.” Every single Wednesday we both relive that day over and over again and again in our minds.  It hurts.

I’m angry that you aren’t here to share all the happenings in my life.  While these letters have been a wonderful outlet for all of the thoughts I want to share with you, I’m pissed off because they are a grossly inadequate substitute for sitting next to you having a beer and talking and laughing.  I always had a gut feeling while I was married to my ex-husband that deep down you knew he wasn’t the right one for me.  You were always very kind to him but I am certain that you never really connected to him and there was something there beneath the surface that always led me to believe you knew there was someone out there, somewhere, who was a much better fit for me. I now have a man in my life now that makes me feel extremely happy, comfortable, loved, special and so supported– he is a fan of my blog and the letters that I write to you.  I so wish you could meet him.  And I so wish that he could meet YOU!  I know you’d totally approve of him.  Who can say where it is headed or what tomorrow will bring but what I do know at this very moment is that he is an incredibly kind, generous, handsome and extremely funny man who really makes me happy and I feel so grateful that he’s come into my life.  We really suit each other so very well and I’m hanging on to him!

Thanks for letting me vent, Dude.  My dreams have been uneventful… pay me a visit again, soon??  :-)

Love, Laura

change my life.” Every single Wednesday we both relive that day over and over again and again in our minds.  It hurts.

I’m angry that you aren’t here to share all the happenings in my life.  While these letters have been a wonderful outlet for all of the thoughts I want to share with you, I’m pissed off because they are a grossly inadequate substitute for sitting next to you having a beer and talking and laughing.  I always had a gut feeling while I was married to my ex-husband that deep down you knew he wasn’t the right one for me.  You were always very kind to him but I am certain that you never really connected to him and there was something there beneath the surface that always led me to believe you knew there was someone out there, somewhere, who was a much better fit for me. I now have a man in my life now that makes me feel extremely happy, comfortable, loved, special and so supported– he is a fan of my blog and the letters that I write to you.  I so wish you could meet him.  And I so wish that he could meet YOU!  I know you’d totally approve of him.  Who can say where it is headed or what tomorrow will bring but what I do know at this very moment is that he is an incredibly kind, generous, handsome and extremely funny man who really makes me happy and I feel so grateful that he’s come into my life.  We really suit each other so very well and I’m hanging on to him!

Thanks for letting me vent, Dude.  My dreams have been uneventful… pay me a visit again, soon??  🙂

Love,
Laura

Dear Brian,

I was reminded by Ryan tonight that 20 years ago yesterday you were picked up, along with him and Duane, to be taken to the Twin Cities in preparation to be sent off to boot camp as you had enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  I remember that day so clearly.  A pair of Marines in full dress came to pick you up at our house and we said our painful goodbyes to you.  The three of you stayed in the same hotel room that night and the following day was your final physical and interviews before flying out to boot camp.  However, you’d never get on that plane… you were sent back home.

I will never forget how horribly devastated you were.  It hurt you terribly to lose something which you had felt so passionate and excited about and truly felt called to do.  I will admit that, selfishly, despite your obvious disappointment I was so glad to have you back home where you were safe.

What happened at the physical and interview was so heartbreaking and confusing to you.  While sitting in the exam room you were surrounded by posters and pictures and signs reinforcing the qualities they seek in all Marines– a few of which are honor, courage and commitment.  There were signs stressing the absolute importance of being 100% honest in your interview and physical.  Being honest was of great importance to you anyway because that’s just the kind of person you were.  Furthermore, the signs also indicated there could be dire consequences for being less than truthful and dishonesty would absolutely not be tolerated.  That being said, you told them you needed to wear special inserts in your shoes as a result of having been born with clubfoot– your feet were turned in and you required medical treatment.  As an infant you spent the first year of your life in casts which were changed every single week (because of how quickly you were growing) and once the casts were no longer needed you had to sleep in special shoes attached to a brace which uncomfortably forced your feet up and apart.  As of age 18, at that Marine Corps physical, you were more than capable of handling all the physical demands which would have been asked of you.  You’d been training so hard– easily running 10-13 miles at least 3-4 times a week, weight training, etc.  You could easily do all that was asked of you and more… the only caveat being you needed those inserts in your shoes.  However, that was reason to disqualify you… so they did.

I remember you telling me how those same two Marines who had picked you up then had the duty of bringing you back home and they were angry at you for telling the doctor you needed those inserts in your shoes to do the running and hiking.  They said to you, “Why didn’t you just lie?  It’s not a big deal.”  That made you feel so terrible!  You wanted to badly to join the Corps but you certainly didn’t want to lie to do so… and here were two Marines telling you that you should have.  It also upset you because the reason you chose the Marines over the other branches of the military was the core values they represented:

Honor:  Honor requires each Marine to exemplify the ultimate standard in ethical and moral conduct.  Honor is many things; honor requires many things.  A U.S. Marine must never lie, never cheat, never steal, but that is not enough.  Much more is required.  Each Marine must cling to an uncompromising code of personal integrity, accountable for his actions and holding others accountable for theirs.  And, above all, honor mandates that a Marine never sully the reputation of his Corps.

Courage:  Simply stated, courage is honor in action — and more.  Courage is moral strength, the will to heed the inner voice of conscience, the will to do what is right regardless of the conduct of others.  It is mental discipline, an adherence to a higher standard.  Courage means willingness to take a stand for what is right in spite of adverse consequences.  This courage, throughout the history of the Corps, has sustained Marines during the chaos, perils, and hardships of combat.  And each day, it enables each Marine to look in the mirror — and smile.

Though I know you battled depression for your entire life, that was the first time I remember seeing you so very visibly depressed.  You were so lost… you hadn’t applied to any colleges as you hadn’t planned on doing that until after your time in the Marines was complete.  It was so hard to see you suffering like that.  Obviously you did end up going to college that fall and did very well– but I know there was always a small piece of you missing from that day you were sent back.

That wasn’t the first time, nor was it the last time, that you were ridiculed for being honest.  I still say that is a wonderful, trustworthy quality to have and I’m glad you didn’t let that experience change that about you.

I’ve always thought the Marines missed out on an incredible person who would have served them well.

Semper Fi, dude!

Love,

Laura

Dear Brian,

Something has been on my brain lately after seeing a post on Facebook offering condolences to someone who had recently experienced a death in their family.  The reason it has continued to hang around in my thoughts is that the very same comment was said to me at one point after you died and it felt like one of the most hurtful things I could imagine at the time.  That comment was, “It was god’s will.”

Seriously?  It hurt me so very badly to hear someone say in response to your death that it was supposed to happen; that god had a “plan” for you and that plan somehow included you killing yourself at age 35.  I wish people would be more careful with those kinds of words because they may not know what kind of belief system the other person holds and comments like that can be far more hurtful than helpful.  I personally am not a christian and I do not believe in god; but I was not ever offended when someone would say, “I am praying for you and your family.”  Whether they are praying to god, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Buddha, Jim Jones or The Great Pumpkin… I don’t really care.  The intentions behind the prayers are kind and loving.  However, I received absolutely no comfort whatsoever from hearing someone tell me that god planned for you to suffer for so long and die so young.  I guess I wish more people understood that it would be far more appreciated to keep the sympathetic sentiments simple like, “I’m really sorry your brother passed away.  I’m here to listen if you need it… please know you are in my thoughts.”

I am not a fan of anyone pushing their religious beliefs on anyone else at any time… but following the death of a loved one is an especially unsettling time for that to occur.  It baffles me that there are people that would find nothing wrong with telling me that you are spending an eternity in hell for your act of suicide.  Nothing about that is OK.  If someone out there believes that in their heart, fine… they are entitled to it just as I am equally as entitled to NOT believe that.  But keep it to yourself, people!  What good can possibly come from telling someone whose brother has died that not only are they experiencing a crippling grief at the loss but that their departed loved one is now going to be suffering at the hands of “Beelzebub” for the next 100,000 years?  It would never occur to me to say to a devout christian who lost a loved one, “Hey, that whole ‘heaven thing’ you’ve been talking about for years doesn’t exist so don’t get your hopes up that they ended up there.  Just trying to be honest with you because I care, buddy.”

I don’t know if I ever told you this but I was referred to a therapist by a friend a number of years ago when you and I were still living together, actually.  Turned out she was a christian therapist.  I don’t know that words exist to describe the level of crazy I experienced during that 2 hour session.  The primary focus was asking Jesus to “speak to me” and take me back to the first time I self-injured as a child… and asking Jesus to command the departure of the “evil spirits” which had obviously inhabited my body.  She all but performed an exorcism that day.  Again… seriously??  About a dozen times she asked Jesus to relay a message to me and she’d watch me as I blankly stared back at her and report that no, Jesus had not just whispered something in my ear.  And no, I did not feel any different now that she’d ordered those pesky “demons” to hit the road.  And to think I walked in that day thinking I was seeking help for my depression; I left having been told that my problem was far more severe… not only was I clinically depressed, but it was because I was possessed by a handful of evil spirits which apparently refused to leave and that Jesus wasn’t talking to me.  Way to kick a gal when she’s down.  Needless to say, that was intentionally the ONLY session I endured with her.

Guess I got off on a tangent here… it’s just been bothering me and I felt like talking to you about it.  I have never believed that “god planned for this to happen.”  I also don’t believe, nor have I ever believed, that you are burning in hell right now.  In fact, I believe quite the opposite.  Every single day I feel you around me, watching over me and I distinctly sense the freedom I believe you feel now that you are no longer bound to the earth that brought you so much pain.

As always, thanks for the talk dude.

Love you!

Laura

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