jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
[personal profile] jamesq
My brother killed himself yesterday. I'm still processing this. Mostly I'm sad for his family, who over the last twenty years got to know him far better than I ever did.

LJ - BillInThe70s.jpg
(The earliest picture of Bill that I have. Taken in the 70's I imagine)

We were never close, as I was seven years younger than him. We were never together at any age where we could really relate to each other. When I was old enough to want to hang around with my brother, he was of an age where it was deeply uncool to have your kid brother hanging around. I was an over-serious nerd, he was one of the kids who hung out with the bad crowd. That got so bad that my parents ended up sending him to live with family in Vancouver, where he straightened himself out. That sounds like some sort of weird military-school-exile-thing, but I'm pretty sure Bill was in on it, recognizing that he needed a clean break from the crowd. I remember shouting matches in the house, but not over that.

LJ - cadets.jpg
(Cadets. Bill is the one standing farthest to the right in the second row)

Due to his moving when I was a kid, we never got to know each other as young adults. He was living his life in Vancouver when I was in high school. He eventually moved back when I was in University.

We had different educations, life experiences, political views. He helped raise a family, and I'm a bachelor. But for all that I say we have nothing in common, it's not actually true.

We had similar senses of humour. Bill got most of my jokes and vice-versa. Mom and Dad certainly raised us in similar ways. We had a similar legacy from that. The values that were instilled on both of us were very strong.

LJ - Bill in Cadets.jpg
(This picture of Bill reacting to a sour note was taken by a Calgary Herald photographer. They were kind enough to send us a print, since I doubt we still have the actual newspaper anymore)

Later in life we bonded to a small extent over our shared burden - my sister. I grew to simply write-off her antics, but Bill took them more and more personally as time went on. Partly that was simply because he had a lot more contact with her growing up as well as when they were adults, but mostly it was because he was often the target of her BS.

LJ - BillMomDadAtExpo86.jpg
(Bill, Maxine, and Gordon Cyr. This was taken in Vancouver's Gastown during Expo86)

It wasn't until yesterday morning when my Aunt broke the news to me that I realized we shared one more thing: Depression. I'm guessing here, but if my brother felt he had to kill himself, then odds are he was depressed, and probably had been for a long time. I've been there, and I've felt the urge to kill myself. It got bad enough that I sought help for it. If only Bill had done that.

Depression lies. The worst lie that depression tells you is that there is no hope. Don't believe it. I'm living proof that you can, if not beat depression, at least negotiate a truce with it. I haven't thought seriously about suicide in years. My depressive incidents have become fewer and of shorter duration due to the mental tools I learned in therapy. And I know that there is help if I need it. My friends will support me and there are professionals out there who can help me.

If you are feeling suicidal, you can walk into any emergency room in this city and get help. "I'm thinking about killing myself" is what I told the triage nurse. It was the first step, and I'm glad I took it. I wish my brother had taken that step.

LJ - BillAndBeckyWedding.jpg
(Bill and his new bride Becky, at the Justice of the Peace office in the Palliser Hotel)

The last time I spoke to my brother was a year ago at the family Boxing day party. He left me a voice mail on my birthday, and I wish I'd done at least that much for him on his. Would it have mattered? Probably not, but who knows?

Right now, My brother's widow Becky is devastated. His children, Thor, Ruth, Russel, and Bill have had the carpet yanked out from under them. I am so very sad for them. I wish I had the words to help them through their grief, but that is beyond my ability.



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