My little brother, David had fought alcoholism for many years. He had been to treatment several times; some voluntary and some, not. When our mother died in 2002, I feel like in a lot of ways I became more like a mother-figure to him, and not just a big sister. His drinking cost him everything. Relationships, jobs, housing, freedom, health, etc. I knew he had experimented with other drugs, but alcohol remained his drug of choice. I had him committed, twice. I always told him I would rather he hate me for trying to save his life than to sit back and do nothing while he slowly killed himself. He cried and was grateful that I loved and cared about him that much.
After his commitment ended, he left treatment because he could. He went back out there and picked up where he left off with his drinking. After several months of this, he called one day to say he had enough and was going to put himself in treatment, by himself. He was ready to get sober and wanted a different life. He called me from treatment regularly and excitedly shared his progress and assignments he has working on. He felt more hopeful than he had before.
Unfortunately, there was a glitch in his funding. The facility gave him a few days to figure it out. He came back from group one day to find he was locked out of his room. They changed the locks and told him he had to leave because they didn’t get their payment of $871. He went to a shelter with the clothes on his back and was offered a place to stay for a short time until he could get the funding situated and back into another program. He was drinking during this time and was staying with people he had met in treatment. November 24, 2016 he consumed alcohol and took his mental health medication. The rumor is, he had a cough and was offered methadone by one of the people there that day. He claimed to have studied to be a pharmacist and assured my brother it would help. He gave some to him and they went down the hall to watch football, and join neighbors for Thanksgiving dinner. My brother became too tired to eat. Too tired to watch the Vikings vs. Lions game. Too tired to stay awake. He went back to the apartment alone for a nap. He was found dead a few hours later. They texted me to tell me he died and I went down to identify his body.
My little brother died by himself on a day intended to be spent with loved ones. All it takes is one day. One bad decision to end your life and drastically change all the lives you left behind. One day. I will never be the same, again. Ever. A part of me went with him that day and I now spend my days trying to turn this pain into purpose.
His life mattered. All lives mattered. I will fight for the rest of my life.