Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The days after the suicide....

My brother, Cory, disappeared on a Sunday afternoon in late May. He was living with my sister, Angela, at the time and she had gone out for the day. When she returned he was gone and no one knew where. It was the start of a hellish week for us because we had no word of him until the next Saturday night and we would never have word from him again. A man, walking his dog, found his car in a gravel pit Saturday afternoon and Angela saw it being towed away on her way home from a friend's wedding that evening. She knew immediately what that meant. I had gone out to dinner with friends, to try to take my mind of the extreme worry of not knowing where he was, praying that he had "only" been kidnapped or any other possibility that excluded his death. I got the news when we returned home from the restaurant and I snapped. I had denied that he could, would do such a thing as take his own life. I refused to believe that he would take that option, knowing the pain his father's death had caused us.

I guess that's the thing. For one person the fact that a close relative committed suicide slams that door shut because of the pain, for another it opens the door so it becomes an option when the pain becomes unbearable. Whatever the case, it didn't matter anymore. He was gone.

I went to Mom's the next day. We grieved together, but already I had decided I was going to Angela's. I didn't think she needed to go through this situation alone and I needed to be with her, to be where he had last been. I didn't stay long at Mom's, maybe a night and then I was home and flying to Winnipeg.

Angela and I had a unique relationship. She was my older sister and yet I had played the part of oldest sibling to our brother for many years as we had not always been raised together. I was 11 when she left home to live with our dad, Cory was only 8. I had been the strong one during the difficult years at home with Mom, through the years when Mom was struggling to heal from the hurts from the abuses piled on her. I was the one who cared for Cory during the latchkey years. In a family of 3, we both were the older siblings and it made things a little weird for us so, understandably, my arrival brought confusion for Angela. At first she didn't understand why I had come. She was so used to taking care of others, that she began to take care of me too, until I told her I hadn't come so she could take care of me, I had come to be with her so we could take care of each other. It was easier after that.

There were so many details to take care of. Because of the nature of his death, there was an autopsy and we had to wait for his ashes to be released from the authorities. We met with the Medical Examiner who told us what we already knew and returned what few personal effects could be salvaged from his car. I`ll never forget the smell of death that still lingered in his belongings. We made arrangements to travel by convoy with his friends to Alberta for the memorial service. His best friend drove a red Peterbilt like the one Cory had dreamed of driving one day, Angela and her husband owned a red pickup and his other friends came in their red car. It seemed suiting that the convoy was all red vehicles even if it was unplanned.

It`s always a bit strange when you realize family reunions happen at funerals. People who haven`t seen each other for years show up and you want to catch up, but your grief gets in the way. We all decided to dress western for the service, it was how Cory always dressed and it was a way to honour his memory. I`ll never forget the tensions that ran high during the morning before the service. I don`t remember what triggered it, but Mom and Angela started yelling and I just couldn`t take it that day. I started walking away down the street to get away from it all. Someone came after me and I returned to the house. When Mom`s aunt arrived, Mom fainted and I feared for her, but was too grief-stricken to step in to be her strength. Thankfully her husband was there to be her strength instead.

In the middle of the memorial service, a major thunderstorm shook the building and I thought it fitting that God would be as angry and hurt as we were. Cory loved thunderstorms, so it was fitting in that way also.

We did family pictures after the service because it was the first time Angela had been to Alberta in many years, we didn`t know how long it would be again and we realized how short our time together could be. It seems when there is a death like that, a grief like that, that the world should just stop turning. It seemed wrong to be posing for pictures, to be smiling as if the world was right when I knew the world would never truly be right again. It still seems strange that the world hasn`t stopped, that life keeps going and joy keeps happening, but it is fitting. Life keeps moving on and on. I`m just glad I don`t have to be the one in control of it all. I don`t have all the answers, and I need to be okay with that.

I`m going to keep 2-stepping today. It`s what Cory would have wanted and I know that it`s what God wants of me. To lean on His strength when I have none of my own left. As long as I let Him lead the dance, I`ll keep going in the right direction.

Thanks for sharing my journey today.


  1. Beautiful Sarah.

    Beautiful and painful and achingly honest.

    Keep 2-stepping today. I'm dancing along with you.

    1. The world is better for your dance Louise. Thank you for reading along with me.