Saturday, December 5, 2015

Six Years Later

I’ve been sad all day. I stayed in my pajamas, curled up on the sofa under a blanket. I called my mom. We had the same conversation we’ve had a hundred times, going through the play-by-play in high-resolution Retina display. It’s a birthday and anniversary ritual.

She and my dad were putting up the Christmas tree when they got the phone call. I was in Golden Gate Park watching my daughter Dolly run a race. The voicemail message from my dad, the dog barking, the ass-hole threatening to sue me if I didn’t get the dog under control, the park bench where I returned my dad’s call. I shield my eyes whenever I drive past that park bench. Those blissful moments before we knew. Were there signs we missed? Could we have done anything to stop it? There’s nothing like regretting the phone call you didn’t make.

We talk through every detail of the days leading up to December 5, 2009. We talk about his life stresses with his job and his landlord, and how irrational it was to kill himself, as if it could ever be rational. We dissect each possible clue, forgiving ourselves for missing what we can see with 20/20 hindsight, assuring ourselves that his path was set and there was nothing we could have done. It was meticulously planned: The letters. The Christmas gifts. The calls to say good-bye. We forgive ourselves for not seeing it. Because if we knew, we would have done anything, everything we could. Of course we would.

This year is the first time the dates have lined up with the days of the week. December 5, 2009 was a Saturday, like today. Yesterday at work I thought about how six years ago I still had the ability to make a difference. Instead I worked hard on an awful case, didn’t return his phone call, or even send a damn text. You think there will be time.

It’s almost harder to think about the days and hours leading up to the end, or how I imagine it in my mind. Mike alone in his apartment typing suicide notes. How dreadful. I’ll never really know. That’s part of what’s weird when someone leaves. Who am I to tell his story? I don’t know what went on in his head. Six years later it’s still a mystery to me.

Something happened to him that we will never comprehend. We just have to carry it.


  1. I am so sorry. I found out yesterday that my younger brother committed suicide......doesn't feel real. I feel guilt and so much sadness. I knew something was up and even felt like asking if everything was okay, that I'm here for him. I never did, I thought he just needed space

  2. I am so sorry, Bobby. I wish you and your family peace.

    1. Thank you for doing this blog, sharing your experience.

  3. I too lost my brother January 24, 2009. Worst day of my life. I still cry and think of hi. Every day. I always will. So will you. He was 21. Didn't see any signs. Starting to get emotional.
    God bless

  4. I too lost my brother January 24, 2009. Worst day of my life. I still cry and think of hi. Every day. I always will. So will you. He was 21. Didn't see any signs. Starting to get emotional.
    God bless

  5. My uncle was diagnosed with brain cancer about a month ago. He just commited suicide this past Sunday December 6th. He was extremely depressed from the diagnosis. This was so unexpected because the test results from the biopsy hasn't even come yet! It probably could've been removed. I think this was very selfish of him. I'm very angry and sad at the same time. He left behind his two kids and the rest of his family. He wasn't thinking about our feelings at all. He just simply transferred his depression to us.

  6. My older brother shot himself July 30th of his year. 4.5 months later I continue to struggle with the guilt that I could have and should have done something more or different. Thank you for blogging about your path so I have some vague guide as to what mine will look like as I struggle down it.

  7. My best friend committed suicide 4 years ago. There is so much guilt and confusion every time her birthday and the day she took her life comes around. She died 4 years ago, alone, in the car her mom bought her after graduating college. She died alone and without and I am often haunted but what her last few seconds were like on earth. Thank for this post. And for sharing your story and your brothers life. It has brought me some comfort during a truly difficult time.

  8. My bay brother took his life just last month. I too have been going over every thing he said or texted me towards his end. I too cannot believe I did not see it. I cannot forgive myself for any of this

    1. He is:

  9. My younger brother took his life in the end of the September. We are together for nearly 30 years. I felt sad every time when I remember and miss him.

    I feel guilt that I cannot stop or help him.

    Thanks for sharing and bless them all!

    No pain in paradise~


  10. Three years ago yesterday was the last conversation I had with my brother. He was driving to the airport, he was sounding low, he said we'd talk later... 02/14/2013 my brother stepped into the bathtub and shot himself in the heart. no note. I don't feel guilty, I am the youngest and he would never have reached out to his baby sister. I don't feel angry, I know that he battled depression all of his life and had been going through some health issues as well. I am just sad. very, very sad. I love my brother and miss him terribly.

  11. My brother took his life in April 2015, four days after his 50th birthday. It was totally unexpected and I still find it impossible to believe that this has happened to our little family. We all loved him so much. I am not as heartbroken as I was a year ago, but it's unbearable to know that I will never ever see him in my life again. It helps to read other stories on the Internet

    1. *hugs*
      I think of my brother often and still miss him. Sometimes the pain still feels raw, but most of the time it is a bewildering ache. I don't think there will ever be a time when I don't think of him. I still love him, his death doesn't change that.
      I am sorry you are going through this, just know you are not alone.

  12. Thank you Ruthie. Yes, death cannot break the relationship we have with our loved ones. This is a phenominal fact that I have learnt over this past year. I actually feel closer to him than I was before he died. The best thing is to keep busy

  13. I just read this today. I really needed to read it, too. I've lived with debilitating clinical depression my whole life and from time to time, suicide seems like the only cure. Thankfully, for right now, I have someone by my side and roof over my head. A support system, as it were. This, to my mind, is essential. No doubt.
    To those of you who are living with the death of a loved one, may I ask of you something? Please, in your own style the reflects how you truly feel, do and/or say something that may bring honor to the dead. Someone was SUFFERING and now is no longer suffering. The relief from that suffering may seem too brutal and harsh to comprehend, but it is done. In their memories, let's spread the word of love and compassion for those who suffer. We, believe it or not, hardly get any from our messed up society. If anything, we get derision and our right disrespect. None of you are at all "responsible" for what happened. That bold decision was made by the person suffering. But, in their memory, let's honor them as best we can. That's how I see it -- a point of view from someone who suffers often.
    Thank you and may you all come to peace with death, illness and old age. None of us like it, but we don't need to add to the suffering because of it. Certainly not by our own deeds and thoughts. You all have my utmost respect and I, for one, applaud you for writing about your feelings. You have no idea what this means to me, and possibly to others who are suffering.
    Peace be with you, always, my friends. xox

  14. Thank you for your input David, and for your kind words. I am glad that you have a support system in place. I know just how difficult it is to live with depression day in and day out, and one thing I know without a doubt is that suicide is not the "cowards way out". It takes the utmost courage, or desperation, or both, to take one's own life.
    I found this poem on the Internet about a year ago. It says everything:

    No one knew the torment,
    that you were going through;
    We only kept on seeing
    What we really wanted to.

    We saw the outward smile,
    but not your inner pain;
    We never really dreamt,
    That you would never smile again.

    Forgive us if we failed to see,
    What we could do to aid;
    Or if we failed to comprehend,
    How much you were afraid.

    We pray your mental anguish,
    Will now forever cease;
    And that your deep anxieties,
    Will be replaced by peace.

    We know your pain invaded,
    Every single thought you had;
    It made you cry internally,
    And deeply, deeply sad.

    But we in turn remember,
    The good times, not the bad;
    We remember when you smiled at us,
    And not when you were sad.

    So when we think about your life,
    We won’t dwell upon its close;
    We’ll remember all the good times,
    And forget about life’s blows.

    We’ll remember all the happiness,
    The joy and not the tears;
    The assurance and the confidence,
    And not irrational fears.

    Our lives have all been better,
    Because you have been there;
    So now we leave your memory,
    In God’s all-loving care.

    (c) 2008 Dick Underwood

  15. My only sibling shot himself in the head. My mother found him. He was only 32. He has 2 kids ages 5 and 7. I've protected him his whole life; not this time unfortunately. This happened 1 year and 3 months ago. Do any of you deal with the fear of not having your sibling being there when your parents pass?

    1. I am really sorry for the loss of your brother. Losing a loved one in this way is very hard. My comfort when my parents pass is knowing that they will be reunited with their son. They both have cancer and when the time comes I think my mom in particular will find it easier to let go knowing he has paved the way. I hope this thought helps you

    2. Hi Niki,

      I feel your pain as my only sibiling, my brother, shot himself in the head last July. Yes, as much as I grieve for him and my loss, I do think of aging alone without him after mother passes. It's not supposed to be that way. He was suffering far more than we knew, and his brave face he typically displayed to the world did not let us figure out his condition until it was too late.

  16. Jeff, it may be up to you to keep your brother's memories alive for his children. My brother's boys were 13 and 10 when he died. One day I will probably be the only one who will be able to do this for them. You will not be alone