Monday, March 27, 2017

The Truth About My Brother

The truth about my brother is this: he died sometime in the very early morning hours of March 22 of an accidental drug overdose. Norco, vicodin, other stuff, we are not sure yet. Toxicology reports take 8-12 weeks, so maybe we don’t know if he truly died of a drug overdose, but we do know.


The truth about my brother is this: I loved him so fucking much and might not have known him at all. For example this: I did not know he had a drug problem. I did not know he did drugs at all. We used to say both incredulously and smugly that we don’t know how we escaped the addiction gene so prevalent in our family, but we did.


The truth is he didn’t.


We did not always get along. There were times I did not understand him, did not like him, but goddamn if I didn’t always love him. I was so mad at him for so long because he was not there for me when I was sick, when I went to Tel Aviv. He disappeared and I was so hurt and baffled. How the fuck could he not be there for me with what I was going through? The truth is he was a fucking drug addict and couldn’t handle it.


The truth of my brother is this: I used to have dreams when we were little that someone was beating him up and I would have to save him. A boy named Lachlan, the bully up the street with the Dickensian name of Josh Maggot. In these dreams I would bite the bully on the arm and save my brother, and everything would be ok again. When I was afraid, my brother used to let me sleep on his floor, even in high school, I slept on his floor. He was my big brother, and I only ever had to save him in my dreams.


The truth about my brother is that he told a lot of fucking lies that are just coming out now that he is dead, and not just the lie that he was addicted to pain medication and whatever else, but other lies to help hide that, little lies that didn’t fucking matter, lies that didn’t need to be told at all, big lies, hurtful lies, lies that shatter.


My brother was a good man, the kind of person who said please and thank you almost too much. He was kind and generous and I could talk to him about small silly stuff and effortlessly slip into talking about something deep. He did not shy away from talking about what really mattered, so why the fuck didn’t he tell me what really fucking mattered? That he was so addicted to drugs that everything was a lie? That the pleases and the thank yous were so we wouldn’t question the truth?


In the last few weeks my brother and I had gotten closer again, and we texted or talked almost daily. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing or if it’s just a thing. We told each other how much we loved each other and how lucky we were to have each other, but of course now I look at those texts and I wonder: was that the truth? His house of cards was crumbling and he came to me and my dad with lies so big we believed them. We rallied around him, fed him, loved him. Was I just so eager to have my brother back in my life that I swallowed it whole?


My brother used to say that I was the only person in the world with the same childhood as he had, and I didn’t really understand why that was so awe-inspiring to him. Well, yeah, duh. But now I do, and it is too late.


The truth about my brother is that I will never know the truth, and that’s the biggest loss of all. For a very long time he lived without any real connections because of his addiction and lies, and that’s what I cannot stand. The fact that he must have felt so alone for so long. That he died alone in an apartment and we could not get to him for days. Did he know that we loved him? Would have done anything for him? That he could tell us the truth and we would still love him?


My brother was a good man, a kind man, a talented, accomplished, respected film director with a beautiful, loving wife and two amazingly adorable kids that he loved to distraction. I am going to do my best to remember him this way: smart, funny, his uncontainable laugh, the best one-eyebrow-raiser I have ever known, the brother I knew before or despite or beneath the drugs and the lies. Because all of that is still true, but so is this: my brother died alone of an accidental drug overdose sometime in the early morning hours of March 22. He told so many lies and lived without truth for so long that I think it’s important to be truthful now. If he could not live in truth, then I will give him truth in death, a real connection. We deserve that, he deserves that, not in a malicious way, but in a loving way. He fucked up. And I still love him. I will always love him.


28 comments:

brenaugusta said...

Susanna,
I am sending you my deepest condolences in regards to your brother.
Brenda

Richie Designs said...

I'm so sorry. The most inadequate of words, but I'm.so.sorry.
sending you love during this time. Keep your chin up lady, you've had a rough few years.

xo
Richele

Kelly Shire said...

I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss of your brother. Sending you light as you & your family navigate through the shock and grief.

Anonymous said...

On the lightest of subjects your gifted writing has made me cry. But this-- I'm so sorry. Ether hugs, loving remembrance of that cool older little boy with the Police cassettes and the mean trick of hiding under the laundry in the closet to scare us with the Charlie McCarthy doll. Love to you, your family, his family. Old neighbor K

Chantal said...

Dear Susanna, from far away my deepest condolences. Having gone through something very similar with my father, I can imagine what you are going through; truth could maybe have saved lives. How sad. So sorry for you and his family...

Unknown said...

Kristin said...

Susanna, I am so very sorry. Thank you for writing about your brother. I feel it is time to be honest about addiction. We almost lost our oldest son, twice, to heroin and meth. He has been clean for 2 years now. His dad and I went to see him in rehab. I have cried more tears than I thought I had in me. All this during HSCT, and you know how that goes. Your family and his kids will be in my thoughts. Sending you love, Kris

Carol-Anne said...

I don't know if it will mean anything, a comment from a stranger in another country.
But I have to leave it anyway.

I'm so so sorry.

amber {daisy chain} said...

Love you Susannah. You're words are raw honesty. ❤️

Sarah Fowler said...

Susannah, I don't know why I was compelled today to check your blog after not seeing it for so long but I'm glad I did. I think we are all capable of lies and deception in the grips of a cunning disease like addiction. It's sad that he didn't get help before it was to late, but he's still your brother and your not alone. My condolences, Sarah.

Molly said...

I am sorry to hear this.
A cousin of mine died under the same circumstances last year. He left so many questions, but none of them changed how much we loved him.
x

Josh Rifkin said...

Thank you for sharing this very difficult truth and amazing love for your brother. I will miss the amazing parts that we all saw in him. Supporting the love he had for his family is what we ca nod now. His boys will have many fathers to help fill the very hard shoes that are no longer here for them.

stephanie carpenter said...

I've been thinking a lot about your brother. I knew the truth towards the end, and tried to reach out and start a conversation, but it went nowhere. I will choose to remember him as I saw him in his goodness, the way he was kind, loving, generous, and fun, dedicated to his kids and Morgan. The end of his life was not the whole of his life and we will never know the why's or have satisfactory closure, so we have to reconcile that for ourselves. Anger is natural and okay. Forgiveness is essential, for him and ourselves. I pray for peace and comfort that surpasses understanding for all of his family and those who loved him. Apart from his addiction he was a beautiful soul, that beauty will be missed and remembered always����❤️

stephanie carpenter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Your brother will always live in you. I am so very sorry for your deep loss. He would still be here..if he could. A huge hug from a person hurting deeply for you.

Rebecca, Old Coworker said...

Susannah, I'm so so sorry for your loss.

Lynne said...

We know this story well. Perhaps he was chosen to guide his and your kids and everyone he knew to take a different path in life. My deepest sympathies.

Pooch said...

So sorry to hear this news, my condolences to you and your family.

ithyle said...

sending love.

Geli said...

I am at a loss for words, really. Having an older brother myself and just thinking about how it would impact
me if he......it's only he and I and one parent left. I've seen the Instagram pictures you posted about your brother and yourself - now I know why. I only can imagine the void you must feel, I am so very sorry for your loss and I am glad you've gotten
closer in recent weeks, it will help you to cope. I wish you all the strength to get through this......

Zak said...

Thinking about you and your family, I am so sorry.

Allison C said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family.

glenn cole said...

he really was a world class one-eyebrow-raiser. i had forgotten that. beautiful sentiments. much appreciated. condolences...

glenn cole said...

he really was a world class one-eyebrow-raiser. i had forgotten that. beautiful sentiments... much appreciated. condolences...

Anonymous said...

such beautiful writing. i knew your brother for about 6 years. we sort of glided around each other. he was very very shy or he may not have liked me all that much but it was endlessly fascinated with who he was. i watched him from afar at my office (i was an EP at Stiefel & Co) and wanted so badly for a conversation to erupt so that we could just naturally become friends. i knew it took work but i hoped for a long time that it would just happen. evereyone in the office thought he was wonderful. when frank closed shop and andrews went to GO (instead of Radical) it was such a big deal. for everyone. and that window closed up for me to find a way to jam my foot in the door. he was very close to my dear dear friend craig henderson. food chain films founder. it was a wonderfully mixed bag and i was fine being in the position i was - an admirere from afar. i'm so terribly sorry to hear about your loss. my son in law is an addiction special (a doctor) and went through a bout of additions - and is in the world where they still (not necessarily drugs) pop up. On some level, i hope you find out it was an accident. things go wrong. people don't understand why a few small sips of Bourbon with a boatload of pills doesn't matter that much. we all run around so indefatigable. all of my friends reading thi will wonder why i'm posting if i had a very teensy to no relationship with your brother. i can only say that i believe it's because my empathic soul and nature is bursting to ask you to be gentle on yourself as nobody can control another person. we have messes and messy messes on top of that in my family. i hope his transition was peaceful and that you start to see some signs that he's very much around watching over you. - can i make this anonymous? not sure how! i think i just did actually. peace, kindness and gentle healing to all of you.

Petunia Face said...

Anon, thank you so much for your comment and kind words. I am as close to 100% sure as one can get that it was a stupid accident. I hate that his life ended in such a tragedy. He had too many kind, creative years for that to have happened. But it did, and I am so glad he was remembered as you wrote. And yes--I think he was shy.

Anonymous said...

my pleasure. i think most who are reading this from those days know who i am. anyway - i believe that anyone who knew any of your loved ones when they did have almost a duty to pass along the love - or the beauty that a person sees in another. your brother was beautiful. no doubt in my mind. sending prayers from a non praying type. i think i might be - just haven't admitted it yet! peace to your family and his

Cathi said...

Oh Susannah - I'm so very sorry to hear about your brother. My heart goes out to you and the rest of his family! Such a beautiful tribute to him. xxoo