Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Seven

Sometimes I wonder what I should share, and what I should not share. There are childhood stories and adventures that I experienced that probably can be said in just a few sentences, and so I keep quiet on them because to me they are so much more. A couple sentences when spoken are a lifetime to me, and sadly all I have left. I tell myself that for now, those are for me, they are my memories and I’m not ready to put them out there yet.

There is one thing though that I was finally able to share with someone, my younger brother. Throughout this whole year I’ve had an anger towards him, I admit that. I guess I just kept hoping that all this would bring us together, make us closer, and it’s been disappointing to see it really hasn’t. My younger brother lives with me, and yet neither of us have offered support to the other this whole time. That’s sad, isn’t it? I’ve expressed to my mother that I felt it was.

It was the end of July, 11 months roughly since my older brother took his life, and just shy of five months since our mad-dash to try and save my dad from the same fate, before my younger brother and I finally talked. Seems like a long time for two siblings living in the same household to finally talk about all this, but guess we just each needed to process it ourselves.

I’m not sure I recall what exactly prompted the discussion, probably something to do with the courts or some sort of paperwork we are still dealing with, but I’m glad it happened. I’m glad we were given the privacy to let it be discussed. What I do know is I expressed a deep regret I hold within myself that with my older brother, Lassen, the loss of him is so painful that a year later I still have tears streak down my face. I feel such a deep regret for what happened with him that this blog, writing this, still is very difficult for me. However, with my dad the feelings are different.

My younger brother made me feel better about how I view each of their suicides, letting me know he felt the same. With our dad the loss hasn’t become so hurtful, and the tears don’t flow as they do with Lassen. I still try and figure out why, after all I love my dad. He was, is, my world. I have so many memories of my dad, I did everything I could for him. I spent more holidays with my dad than anyone else in my family, I took more time off in the summer to be with him, and I helped out on his property without him ever asking because I wanted to. I grew up with my dad, a choice I made when given in the 7th grade, and was a daddy’s girl. So if that’s the case, why isn’t there that heavy-hearted feeling like there is with my older brother?

Well, as I said, my younger brother expressed the same differences in emotions and this is the best thing we can conclude. Lassen took his life in a spur-of-the-moment domestic dispute. He had a stressful week, and was having his wife leave him. It was a vulnerability along with an argument that lead him to just do it. Quick. No thinking. No talking about it. Just done. I guess with him I feel he was driven to it by a cheating spouse and the lack of family for support being near him (as he was in the Navy and stationed across the country).

With our dad, well, mental illness runs deep in our family. Our dad was on and off different medications for the past twenty years, and he had stress triggers. As far back as my mother has known my dad he talked about suicide, and my dad was morbid in telling us kids about his own death and depressing thoughts about how he would never enjoy his retirement. We tried being supportive, though sometimes it’s hard to tell someone’s true feelings verses them joking. But also, with my dad, I feel his suicide was selfish. And excuse me if that offends. But my dad really thought his through. It was no quick of the moment one, it was planned. He died in a slow, painless, well thought out, way. He made it difficult to find him, and he knew what he was doing. He felt abandoned, and with it being six months after my older brother’s death, he stepped away from us and decided to be alone. Unlike my brother who just didn’t have anyone for support, my dad decided to push away his.

The day my dad took his life my younger brother called him, they talked just two hours before my dad drove off into the woods to hide and follow through with his plans. My brother never knew that while they talked my dad was heading home, already with his mind made up. Along with that bit of hurtfulness, he called my step-mother to tell her goodbye, but none of us kids.

So why the difference in how we feel? I’m not exactly sure, but I know I feel a lot more hurt over my dad’s suicide. Hurt, betrayed, abandoned, and a failure.

<<Entry Six

Hey Brother

I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to an afterlife. Where the spirit goes, if one even exists, but I completely understand the desire in hoping for something more than no longer having your family with you. I can’t say I ever understood the heart-wrenching hope that this isn’t the end, that you get to see those you love again. However, the last year has covered me in regret, guilt, hopes and wishes. Not sure if I want something more after life, but I do know I wonder a lot more than I ever have in the past.

To mark my brother’s passing, I take to his Facebook page sometimes and write him letters. Not sure why, if it’s for me or in the hopes that somehow he’ll hear it, but I am posting the latest one here. I posted the one I wrote shortly after he died with a music video at the time that for me really hit home and still brings me to tears. You’re welcome to read it if you haven’t already.

Letter to Lassen:

A year ago today, was like any other for me, and probably for our whole family. I don’t remember all that I did, but I know when everything turned around. I was in the middle of taking a nap before working the night shift. My younger brother was in Vietnam, on vacation. And some how you, the brother and son we all looked up to, ended your life.

I can’t presume to know what lead up to what happened, or how things may be different over the past year if you were still around. But I do know you were such an important person to me, to all of us, that a day doesn’t go by without you in our hearts and on our minds.

I missed you before everything ended, because I missed going camping with you, seeing you at Christmas, having you eat my pumpkin pies even when I forgot to add sugar. And now those opportunities will never come again. I miss talking to you about gift ideas for the parents, or hearing your exploits as a kid. I’m still not sure who had the most fun and crazy childhood, you or Bryce, and now it’s just too difficult to compare.

A year ago all the ifs, ands, buts, should have, would have, and could haves went through my mind. I was upset then at your sudden loss in my life, and I still am. Today, those same thoughts of what I could have done to be there for you skip across my mind, wishing I could change how it all is. Sometimes thinking it’s only a nightmare and never happened.

I love you, I always have, and just wanted to share some words to mark the time.


Some Replies to the Post:

Jennifer Hooper:  Never forget all of us riding our bikes on the street when we where little .

Chad Elms: Some of those same thoughts crossed my mind. Sorry for the loss of such a unique and talented father, son, brother, and friend.

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Six

This was written on paper while at my new volunteer position for the local LGBT Center. I’ve been a bit withdrawn and haven’t done much, online, gaming, chatting, or my blogs and apologize for that.

A lot has happened in the last month that has dramatically changed my life. Seems my life has been full of changes, but at least this one has a better ending or new beginning than the previous. The second week of July I was informed my position at work would no longer be available starting in August. At first I was fulled with bitterness and anger. Here I was, with a company I have given seven years, and I felt abandoned. My manager wasn’t tossing me, no, I was offered a transfer, but it still felt like all the praise I was given was false, and I wasn’t appreciated.

Here I was in life, at another fork in the road before me, and I took this as a sign that I needed something for myself, a change.

When my older brother took his life September, other than the first and one outreach of support from two friends, I was completely alone. No one called. No one asked how I was. No one stopped by. No one even sent a text or email. Not trying to be conceded or attention seeking, but that hurt.

I had no one, my younger brother wouldn’t even talk to me and he was down the hall. I know he needed to cope in his own way, and I myself didn’t reach out to him. But it was reflecting on all this, on my lack of a social circle, a community, a support system. I decided with this new development at work that I was going to build on me.

And so I quit.


I figured this was something my dad’s life insurance money was meant for. To better my life. He felt so alone at the end, as did my brother, and I guess I felt “damn if I was going to feel the same.” I still feel the same, the tears, and pain aren’t quick to go away, but I’m working on it.

Before I even quit I signed up for and attended a volunteer orientation for the local county’s LGBT Center. I have since been putting in time with my community, meeting some great and friendly people, having fun and really feeling appreciated. I have already received a certificate of recognition, and have been invited to several events. I’ve been exposed to things I never had an interest in, such as art gallery openings, a tattoo fundraiser, and general loud music and booze. It’s been fun, and I am grateful to be expanding on my experience in life.

Not sure my dad could relate to the need and desire to have a social circle, especially one with LGBT, but obviously his way of living didn’t work out for him, and it’s been depressing me for years. So here’s hoping for the best, and at the worst it’ll make for an adventure.

<<Entry Five         Entry Seven>>

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Five

The Fourth of July came and went uneventful for me this year. Well, actually I’m not sure that’s at all accurate. This Fourth of July was very different from any that I have ever had, filled with a bunch more drama that life feels my family deserves, and a lack of normalcy (drama being my sister ended up in the ER).

The past several years I have made it a point to have the Fourth of July off, as I typically work most holidays and weekends, I somehow justify this annual vacation. However, this year, life just seemed to rush forward into July and I didn’t bother thinking about any summer vacation, let alone request any of it off. I feel bad for my mom here, as this is the one holiday I have made a point to spend with her. Sometimes these small changes really bring to light how much really is affected by everything.

As a kid my parents use to take my older brother and I to our grandparent’s house where the daytime was filled with my dad making dry ice explode inside 2 liter bottles, and Lassen and I shooting off these miniature iron cannons. What’s sad about remembering this holiday is just a year ago, when everything was still fine and dandy, I asked about those cannons. These summer holidays and vacations just hold a special spot in my heart and always have. My brother and father’s suicide weren’t a factor in that, as both were around when I mentioned our old tradition.

I loved this time of year as a kid. Living in California, and as kids visiting Baja on annual camping trips, we had the standard illegal fireworks to shoot off and enjoy. Mind you, we never got the ones I see lighting up the sky, or even close to the ones people seem to be playing with now.

Anyway, my older brother and I would ping-pong back and forth on setting up the fireworks at night, while our dad lit them up for us to all enjoy. My grandmother would have a cake made with the American flag designed with fruit, and we’d hear stories about all the trouble my dad got into with fireworks and exploding sinks.

Obviously eventually my younger brother joined the mix of our Fourth of July tradition, and with time, it changed a little as well. One of the last Independence Days I remember celebrating with my older brother was our trip to Lake Havasu. We never were at the lake on a holiday except this one year, and I couldn’t tell you exactly which year it was, but I remember a nearby boat playing Eiffel Tower’s “I’m Blue,” so I’m going to say it was somewhere near that time period of being somewhat current music.

We drove the boat all the way from where we normally camped, which was typical a boat-in site, and made our way to Havasu City to watch their firework’s display. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city sponsored Fourth of July event. The amount of boats packed on the lake to view the show was amazing, so packed we could almost jump from one boat to the next. My dad never was one for crowds, and though everything was fun, different, and eventful, perhaps the sheer amount of people is what kept us from doing it again.

I do believe shortly after our Havasu trip, perhaps a few years at most, my brother was no longer available to participate in our yearly camp-outs. With my younger brother and I being the only ones in several years to join my dad, my older brother’s presence was always missed. A year never went by where we didn’t wish he was able to join. I realize part of that was just him being in the Navy, and part was him having his own family. Still, it’s sad to know the opportunity will never be there again.

Summer always brought camping with my dad. Besides the year after my parents got a divorce, we never missed a summer. I suppose things are different now. I don’t foresee any camping trips in the near future. Not sure this season will ever be an easy one for me, as it’s filled with many stories, events, and memories from both my brother and dad.

<<Entry Four          Entry Six>>

Left Behind: Surviving Suicide – Entry Four

The end of April saw my birthday this year, and though it seems I have become dull to the lose of so much family in the past year, a birthday is a heavy reminder of how false that is.

For my family, holidays and birthdays are a time that even though we all live far apart and have busy lives, we take a moment out of our days to make a phone call. My family is small, smaller even now, and so each phone call is precious. This year, I was very much depressed over my birthday. There was no call from my brother. No call from my dad. No call from my grandparents. First year ever where those calls were never placed, a pattern that will follow every year from now on.

My mom has a tendency of passing on the guilt trip, making statements such as “what, guess I’m not enough?” or “I can’t fill in your father’s shoes.” And though I understand her hurt, because instead of being happy at receiving her phone call, I just feel depressed over the loss, I hope some day she realizes it’s not that she isn’t enough, but that no one can fill in the gaping holes left inside me no matter who they are.

My brother’s birthday was suppose to be two weeks after mine. As children we combined many birthday parties together since they were so close. Also, being 80s kids, where we still played outside, a lot of the neighborhood friends were ones we both played with. The couple of times we had sleep overs the girls would bed downstairs, and the boys had a massive tent that slept 20. To me, my brother always had the best ideas on how to have fun, which is probably why I followed him in everything. His group of friends would play capture the flag, and we would beg to join in on it.

This year my brother would be 35-years-old. Tell me that isn’t too young to have already given up on life. Sometimes I feel it’s so easy to just continue pretending he lives across the country from me; since we rarely got to actually see each other, it’s easy to forget he is really gone. But days when he is suppose to call, such as my birthday, the reality sets in and I can’t pretend. He was someone that always called, no matter what. Being in the military made it difficult sometimes but my brother was reliable, never failing to remember those special days.

I’m still confused over how I feel about my dad. I don’t know why his suicide has affected me so much differently than my brothers. I suppose part of it is because I feel extremely hurt. Just before my grandfather passed away at the beginning of April, he told me my dad felt abandoned. Yet, I feel it is he who left me…left all of us. I know it’s selfish, but I guess I figured as a parent he was suppose to be my rock.

Since my father’s death in March I have visited his house three times. Once, when we were still searching for him with a sliver of hope for the best. Second time, to meet with the lawyers my step-mother was hiring, and finally, for my sister’s graduation. Each time I have discovered, the loss I feel for my dad is strongest when I am where he is suppose to be.

I mentioned it before, how my young brother and I wanted to skip Christmas. I think this is the real reason now. We want to skip the holidays, I think, because they are a huge reminder of the holes we now have in life. These holidays and special occasions make it glaringly obvious how much we have recently lost. Our small little family was very supportive, and caring, never forgetting each other and so when we don’t get those phone calls, or cards in the mail…it makes it difficult to continue pretending that there is only geographic distance that keeps them away.

<<<Entry Three      Entry Five>>>