He was happy. He was perfect. He was suicidal.
My life has had many ups and downs. I have lost loved ones and gained loved ones. My brother committed suicide. I have contemplated suicide. I lost my mother when I was very young. I am still here today. This is my story.
It has been 7 years now without my brother.
March 31st 2012. It’s was a beautiful day. Sunny, t-shirt and capri weather. I started my day like I always do. Woke up, had breakfast, watched tv and went to work at my retail job at Bed Bath and Beyond. I liked it there. Good people, busy, and being a cashier was always so fun. I am a people person, so greeting and helping customers for 8 hours made me happy.
There was something different about this day. Very different.
I was about 5 hours into my 8 hour shift. Surprisingly it wasn't busy for a Saturday. I was behind the cash register, doodling on a notepad, waiting for my next customer when my Uncle stormed into the store. My Uncle? Why is my Uncle here? Those were the first thoughts to rush through my head. He quickly found my manager, whispered something in his ear and told me we had to go.
All thoughts rushed through my head. "Where are we going?" "What is happening?" "Is Grandma and Grandpa okay?" The unknown. My Uncle held my hand, as we drove in silence to my house in Bonavista.
When we pulled up, I saw my Grandpa stand up from his lounge chair in the living room.
I opened the door and saw both my Grandparents in the family room. Staring at me like they saw a ghost. Was I in trouble? Did I do something?
I sat down on the couch in our family room and began to get anxiety. Still nobody had said a word to me. "What is happening?" I asked. I started to tear up.
I looked at my Grandma, who was trembling and had a hard time making words.
"Your brother committed suicide."
Those four words. Those words will live in me for the rest of my life.
I fell to the floor. Screaming, panicking, trying to cry, yet the shock of those words, the reality wouldn’t let me.
They say before you die your life flashes in front of you.
I learned that day, that when a family member dies your life flashes in front of you as well. It was like a movie from the past to the present shot up in front of my face in warp speed.
The year of 1995, where my beautiful Mother passed away from an asthma attack and we are put into care with our grandparents, was a tragedy in itself. Our lives would never be the same after the loss of our Mom. My grandparents daughter.
We have a pretty typical childhood. We play sports, we find our loves and interests. Kevin becomes one of the best opera singers in Alberta and I am passionate about dance. We go on many family trips, we attend typical schools, make friends, graduate high school, and simply go through life together as a team, as an unstoppable sibling duo.
This all flashes through my head. All these precious moments.
I am then taken back to a year earlier. I am 17 years old and struggling with my own life.
Graduating, coming to terms with my Brother going back to University in New York, saying bye to all my friends as they head off to University too. The feeling of being alone. The classic thought of, What am I doing with my life? Sadly right after I graduate, I fall into a terrible world. A world called depression and anxiety.
To the point where I can’t even get out of bed.
I stay like this for a month.
My Grandma finally forces me out of bed one day and go see a doctor. This was the hardest thing I had done in a month. The last thing I want to do is see a doctor and talk. I want to be in my bed, alone, and unwanted. The doctor asked me a number of questions, asked me about my life, my childhood, my passions, my future.
Finally he got to a question that I'll never forget to this day.
Doctor: "Josie do you want to hurt yourself?"
Me: "Yes, I don't want to be here anymore"
Doctor: "Josie, have you had thoughts of suicide?"
Me: "Yes." I wished more than anything I wasn't here anymore.
Within minutes I was told I would be put into a care system at the Foothills Hospital. I was unable to be unsupervised with how at risk I was. I was scared, anxious, nervous, but I also felt a small feeling of hope.
I spent 2 weeks in the hospital. No technology, no phone calls, and a few night time visitors for brief amounts of time. My visitors were my grandparents and my brother.
I met with many doctors over the course of 2 weeks, I did a lot of work, and learned lots about myself and mental health.
As part of my healing, I had to write my suicide note to my family and then read it to them. This exercise was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Through tears, I was hardly able to get the words fully out.
This moment was when I knew I wanted to be here. I knew I was worth something and had a really great life. I was a lucky one, I made it through my mental health and depression. I wasn't perfect when I got home, it took therapy sessions, counselors, and lots of work, but I made it through. I had an amazing support system behind me, guiding me, and loving me….fast forward to seconds after I am told my Brother is gone, my life is back to reality.
That day, March 31st was the worst day of my life. It still is to this day.
Where do we go from here? What is life going to be like now? What am I suppose to do tomorrow? Next week, in a month, a year?
A police officer showed up to our house that night. After hours of communication between my brothers school in New York and Calgary police- they had confirmed Kevin was gone. My Big Brother. Taken out of my life just like that. All those memories, moments, my best friend, my partner in crime. Gone. It was like my arm got torn away from me and I was never going to get it back. We had already had such a hard life together, with Mom dying so early and my mental health, I couldn't believe this was happening. The worst part was, whenever hard things happened to us we always leaned on each other for support…I didn't have that anymore. I had to have been dreaming…somebody pinch me so I can wake up from this nightmare.
How could this even be happening? I had just texted him the day before. We had the best conversation about one of our favorite movies Cadet Kelly. He was happy, he was perfect, he was performing this weekend with his school. He loved performing.
As weeks and months went on. We had Kevin's funeral, we had an outpour of love from friends and family. We spent a lot of time together as a family, grieving, not sleeping, and asking the simple question over and over again- Why?
As time went on, the world kept going. Life didn’t stop. Even though in our worlds life stopped. Life was broken, the rest of the world was living. This was the hardest part for me. I felt I needed a sign over my head when I was out in public- GO EASY ON ME MY BROTHER JUST DIED.
Simple things like grocery shopping or driving a car seemed so hard.
Days when a cashier would be a little more snarky or a person walking by me gave me a weird stare would make me break down and cry.
I didn't go back to work for a month.
I hardly got out of bed on any given day.