We were training for a sky dive when I told my brother I thought he might be making a big mistake with this marriage. I told him something to the effect of two wrongs don’t make a right – he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia not too long before and I had some serious concerns about her mental health as well. Our father had convinced him that his schizophrenia had been a misdiagnosis, so he never received any treatment. I was afraid that without either of them getting the help they needed that this marriage would be a jump without a parachute. He just laughed and told me that that’s exactly why they’re so perfect for each other – they understand each other better than anyone else ever would. So, terrified, we leaped out of that plane.
Their marriage was certainly rocky. They were children, she was only 17 and he was 18. They beat on each other. They both abused drugs. They’d have a fight or temporarily break up, and my brother would be jumped by a gang she was affiliated with, axe-wielding members taking aim at his face. They’d forgive each other and begin again. Shortly after they were married, my brother put a baby in her. She was very pregnant when my brother filed for divorce in June. She had the baby shortly thereafter, and in mid-August, I got the text while I was at work. A TEXT MESSAGE. My sister-in-law, 18 and with a newborn, had committed suicide.
I’m not sure if they would have gone through with the divorce or if it was just another little fight. I know my brother absolutely loved her. And now he was left with a beautiful baby girl who looks just like her mommy, a broken heart, a sick mind, and so much uncertainty. My sister’s death really fucked my brother up. I’m sure he felt that it may have been partially his fault having filed for divorce a month or so before, and her being pregnant. I’m sure it hurt to look into his daughter’s beautiful face. I’m sure he had no idea how to be a father or how to live without his wife.
He tried to work, but would have to miss here and there when his daughter was sick or daycare plans fell through. He got fired from his job for his absences. He got fired from his next job. He’s grieving, trying to figure out how to be a father, battling the demons in his mind, and now can’t pay his bills or hold on to a decent job. He lost his mind, spiraled into the darkness. He committed armed robberies of convenient stores and robbed other drug dealers, and dealt some himself. He was arrested and sentenced to hell on earth, decades in prison, missing the entire childhood of his daughter and then some.
In prison, he continues to deteriorate. He starves, eating food off the floor if he has the chance. He’ll experience episodes of psychosis, and hears demons telling him that he’s the Anti-Christ. They tell him to eat his own shit. That he should just kill himself. And he tries. During these episodes, he gets put into solitary confinement, the most excruciating torture imaginable. Leaving him to face his demons alone, screaming.
My brother is not dead. He still has a life to live. But I seem to be grieving him. It feels as if he’s been completely lost. Like I don’t know him anymore. When I talk to him, I’m talking to a stranger. He’s more and more frequently attempting suicide. I haven’t spoken to him in weeks because of this. I’m terrified that one of these days he will be successful in his attempt. This fear looms over me each day. With every phone call, my heart skips a beat. I don’t know if I could handle another text message from my mother.