Something heavy, in your stomach, in your heart. Guilt, feeling like you've failed. There is a toxicity that takes over someone with an addiction. A creeping black sludge that coats the veins and lungs of the one you love. Turning them into something entirely different, someone you don't recognize. I lost my brother a year ago to addiction, he was only 23, the same age I am right now. I feel as though he never had a chance, Brennan was stuck in a cage since he was a small child.
I think that my mother fucked him up, they were best friends, and did drugs together a lot since he was very young. She failed as a mother, she didn't teach him the meaning of right and wrong, morals, and the hopes and dreams he could still be reaching. Its obviously not entirely my mother's fault, he makes his own choices, as I do. But the deep history of mental health and addiction that runs through the DNA of this crippled family, it seems as though a lot of things have failed him, including me.
My favourite memories of my brother are probably the ones where he is protecting us, protecting me and my sister from our mother. He used to stick up for us all of the time, and try to shelter us from the violence that ensued when my mother was drunk, probably the only person that ever did. Everyone else pretended like it wasn't an issue, I remember family members sending us home with our mother who was driving the car, while she was drunk. To this day I still can't imagine doing that to a child. but it happened all the time. I remember one night when we were driving home to the farm we lived on, and my mother was drunk, she drove on the wrong side of the road directly towards a semi. It was honking, My sister was screaming, and Brennan was trying to get my mother to drive on the right side of the road. I must have been about 11 or 12, and I remember closing my eyes and thinking, "I guess this is it." To this day I still don't know what made her turn away from that semi, it's all a blur, but that is the last time I remember us being all together as a family.
Brennan helped us a lot growing up even though he was the one that broke down the most. When we got older and went into high school I remember a lot of parties, a lot of drugs, alcohol, and violence, and of all places they were at my house, hosted by my mother and brother. Things got worse, things got toxic, and me and my sister moved out on our own. And I think that was the moment I really left Brennan behind. I tried to keep my distance from the drugs, the violence and the partying. I was going to work and going to school, and I didn't want to be apart of that life anymore, I couldn't. And as I was moving and going to college, my brother was getting worse and worse. I left him, and I didn't help him when he needed someone the most.
He did go to rehab eventually, and when my dad finally got clean, I thought Brennan was going to get clean too. He had a child, and a regular job at a tire shop, things seemed to be getting better for him. I never knew he was struggling with depression, struggling with his thoughts and perception of himself, but how could I not when I was going through the same thing. And then a year ago I got a call, that he had overdosed, and was gone, and I couldn't believe it. He was so young. My Dad had been doing drugs for over 25 years and my mother is still on the streets doing meth, and Brennan, well hes gone, wasn't even given a chance. And I can't do a fucking thing about it.
At Brennan's funeral I met his son for the very first time, he was less than a year old. And he is the most beautiful thing I've seen in my entire life. I can't help but think Brennan is missing every moment of his son's personality growing and changing. Each time I see him it hurts, because he looks exactly like him. And now I am completely dedicated to make sure that this little boy has a good life, and supportive family, because he is going to have a lot of questions, and I cant let him down like I let my brother down.
I hope that Brennan has all of the answers now though, that he is in peace, and isn't struggling anymore. I have no idea what happens after death, but I hope that there is some clarity, because all of this.... just doesn't seem "fair" …. but maybe I should have tried harder than I did.