I Can Imagine

Brother with my baby

Have you ever heard someone say, I can’t imagine what I would do if I lost my child, my parent, my sibling?

Many people can’t imagine or what they imagine is painful. But it actually happening to you is much more painful.

I can imagine because I have lived through something just as awful. It is the blackest hole you will ever be in when you lose someone very close to you.

When my co-worker says “I can’t imagine,” when I tell her my relief that my son was incredibly lucky to not be working out with the weights when a drunk driver plowed into a building he was in. I can imagine exactly what I would do.

I would fall to the ground in disbelief.

I would be driven to the hospital in a utter state of shock. The 5 mile drive would feel like a 5000 mile drive.

I wouldn’t be able to sleep for months.

I wouldn’t be able to drive without bawling my eyes out for months.

I wouldn’t be able to shower without bawling my eyes out for months.

I wouldn’t be able to be alone with my thoughts for more than a few seconds without thinking of him and bawling my eyes out for years.

I would wish for just 5 more minutes to tell him how much I he meant to me.

I have witnessed the incredible pain that parents suffer when they lose a child. While your life eventually goes back to a resemblance of normalcy, that pain is always there, just below the surface, waiting to reignite at the slightest mention of him.

I want you to only have to keep imagining because what it actually feels like is so much worse than what you can ever imagine.


I Don’t Want You to Understand How This Feels

Family Photo from the 80s

Every few months I have dinner with my friends from high school. For the past couple of years, we have been trying to reconnect even though we are all different stages in our life. It has been fairly easily to pick right up where we left off and it is always a time I enjoy.

Sometimes I wonder if people forget, if they don’t realize what they are saying, or realized what they said afterwards and are like “Oh, shit.”

I didn’t say anything at the time but the conversation made me very uncomfortable. As you know if you read this blog, I lost my brother several years ago to an untimely and unexpected death. It has been incredibly hard for me. I know what it is like to lose a sibling, a sibling that was my only sibling growing up.

Anyway, I don’t think my friends even realized what they said when they were casually mentioning how they don’t know how they could go on if they lost their parents and how we were getting to that age where this would start happening with our friends. They couldn’t even imagine.

{uncomfortable agreement and feelings from me}

I don’t know what it feels like to lose a parent. But I sure know  hard as hell what it feels like to lose a sibling. To watch your parents suffer in agony over the loss of a child. This maybe one of the most painful and gut wrenching experience of my life.

Trust me, I don’t want to face the inevitable fact that my parents will eventually die. I definitely don’t wish dying before them upon them. I don’t think either one of them could survive losing another child.

Yes, I know how it feels to lose a sibling. To lose that one and only person that knows what kind of crazy childhood you had. To lose a sibling that never had a family of his own. To lose that special bond with.

My parents are my best friends and we are incredibly close. I feel lucky that they were young parents so hopefully I have still have many, many years before I have to worry about losing them.

But did they even realize how that sounded to someone who had lost someone very close to them? I doubt it but I wouldn’t wish them understanding that feeling either!

Grandpa Tom

grandpa tom and billie

If you knew this guy (Tom Turkey, Uncle Tom, Tommy, Tommy T, Get ‘er done Tom, perhaps a few that we won’t name, and to me – Grandpa Tom)…you would know how great of a guy he was! Always the entertainer, willing to help anyone out who needed it without asking for anything in return, he was a friend to those who had no friends, he was a hard worker, and all around cool guy to hang out. As young kids, Tabitha, Billie, and I spent a lot of time as the oldest grandchildren at grandpa and grandma’s house. We lived close enough that we could ride our bikes over there as we got older.

These are some of the best childhood memories.

I’m actually surprised we survived some of the things we were allowed to do! “Oh, Nan, let them have their fun,” he would say! Even if it meant jumping off the roof into the pool or working on some kind of mechanical thing that we were clearly not qualified to operate or whatever the case may be (though, I’m not sure I ever really did that one!)

Some of our fun activities: Spray painting, mowing (while he supervised the activity the entire time!), driving the duster down the runway way before we had driver’s licenses, playing in the camper, creating our own garden in the greenhouse, playing in the shop, cleaning the shop, cleaning the duster, looking at his airplane, discussing all the conspiracy theories, and so many many more!

So many Grandpa Tom stories where he helped someone out or said something that made you laugh….as I have received so many of them in my inbox, Facebook, and via text. He was one of those unique characters that comes around once in a lifetime. Anyone who met him, always remembered him. He loved entertaining us, even during these past final days.

Our family is not the most expressive family about our feelings as often you would go in for a hug and either get a handshake or a pat on the head but we knew that grandpa loved us and cared about us because he wanted to spend time with us and teach us how to do things (right). He used to always call me on my birthday…he called me using my extension at work several times to talk to me about things all on his own – which completely surprised me, and was a regular visitor at the office – though, he didn’t mind if you were in the middle of a business meeting or a phone call! 🙂 He was often the winner of the JA award (those of you in the family know what that stands for!) but he always kept life interesting for those around him.

After all the years of helping everyone else without asking for anything in return, we were finally able to help him the final weeks of his life.  He was very appreciative of the all help and allowed us to help him when he was unable…and really we all felt so helpless.(A tommism – We? What do you mean we. You got a mouse in your pocket!) When I think back on that time and the past few years in general, it has  shown me how important family is and I’m lucky to be part of such a close, loving, and fun family.

I will miss him dearly and things do not seem quite right without him telling us how to do something the “right” way! A few more Tommyisms:

So what do you think, Bri?

Get ‘er done.

Watch, watch. We?

You got a mouse in your pocket.

We’ll get ‘er.

<insert anything> DOT COM

Ah, we will finish it tomorrow.

Random Things That Make Me Think Of You…

photo (4)

The death of my brother affects me every single day of my life especially when I’m alone with my thoughts. “They” say it gets better but it doesn’t get better you just don’t dwell on it every single second of the day like you did in the beginning. At some point, you are able to push it towards the back of your mind but the pain is still there waiting to be exposed at slightest thought of you.

For example how the mind wanders. We moved and I thought of all the people who would stop in now that we are closer to town. This made me think of the days when my brother used to stop in every night after work at our first house in town. This made me sad to think that he didn’t do that when we moved to the country. Then I thought, maybe if we had lived in town and he had us to come visit he wouldn’t have resorted to drugs. Then I feel guilty and sad. Then I cry as I try to push something else into my brain so the tears will stop.

Someone talks about their adult brother. I automatically think of the brother I don’t have.

I watch the television show “King of Queens.” I think of the times my brother would stop over after work and we would watch it together and laugh. The big guy “Doug” is kind of goofy like my brother was which is why I think he liked the show so much. He would talk about the funny parts in this show all of the time.

Someone says the word brother and I think of you.

I drive by your grave and I think of you.

I see your obituary hanging on my refrigerator and I think of you.

I eat Doritos and I think of how we used to fight and fight and fight over the bag when we were little.

I open a can of beans and I remember how much you hated beans.

I open a can of tomato paste and I think of the time you cut your finger on a can in a kitchen growing up.

I see a daschund dog and I think of how much you loved our dog Chelsea.

I think of you more than you will ever know. I hate myself for thinking of you more now than I did before you died. I should have been a better sister. I should have not took for granted the time we had together thinking that there would always be more time….


I Hope Your Conscience Eats At You.

Earlier this year, I ran into someone who was a contributor to the death of my brother. I was so upset by this first experience of seeing this person that I couldn’t sleep that night and I was shaking as I was leaving the store. We live in a small town so it was bound to happen. I just didn’t know how I would feel when it did happen.

Guess what? It happened again. This time I had a little different perspective. I’m not as spiritual of a person as I would like to be. I do believe that God is putting this person in my path for a reason. I just don’t know why yet but maybe it is to affect JM and not to affect me. Though, the death of my brother affects me every single day of my life especially when I’m alone with my thoughts. “They” say it gets better but it doesn’t get better you just don’t dwell on it every single second of the day like you did in the beginning. At some point, you are able to push it towards the back of your mind but the pain is still there waiting to be exposed at slightest thought of you. For example how the mind wanders. We moved and I thought of all the people who would stop in now that we are closer to town. This made me think of the days when my brother used to stop in every night after work at our first house in town. This made me sad to think that he didn’t do that when we moved to the country. Then I thought, maybe if we had lived in town and he had us to come visit he wouldn’t have resorted to drugs. Then I feel guilty and sad. Then I cry as I try to push something else into my brain so the tears will stop.

This time it was at our local festival called the Pork Festival. Mind you, I’m a vegetarian and the thought of anything pig disgusts me. However, it is a yearly tradition. One of which, I have only missed one year of ever attending the Pork Festival. It is a local gathering of sorts when you run into people you may have forgotten even existed. Anyway, onto to the story.

My youngest daughter and I were leaving the Pork Festival and I saw JM in front of me. He was walking with a girl I went to school with, which was a surprise to me. I am “Facebook” friends with this person and didn’t realize she was so close to this person who was a contributor to something that has hurt my family so much. I know he saw me before I saw him because he started walking strangely with this girl and his child into a area that didn’t even have anything for the festival. He purposely was NOT looking back or so it seemed even though the two people he was with were walking behind him and it appeared they were trying to talk to him. They probably had no clue that he was purposefully avoiding me. You maybe thinking I’m crazy to think he was avoiding looking back on purpose but when you are in the situation you can just tell. I decided to just walk behind him for a little while longer even though I was going out of my way to my final destination. He finally turned around and made eye contact and he quickly turned around again.

I left a little shaky but not as shaky as the previous time. Because I’ve realized he is the one who is ashamed. He knows what he did and he has to live with it. He is the one who has to feel guilty when he accidentally runs into me. He is the one who has to remember that he sold my brother the drugs. He is the one who has to remember that he told my brother exactly how to take the drugs. He is the one who has to live with that and I hope it hurts him when he sees me.

These lyrics from Eminem always seem to resonate with me even though the entire song is no way related to what I’m experiencing, this is what I think of when I see JM….

I hope you can’t sleep and you dream about it
And when you dream, I hope you can’t sleep and you scream about it
I hope your conscience eats at you and you can’t breathe …

I Know What You Did

The night before Valentine’s Day, I realized on my way home from picking up Sof from theater practice that we didn’t have any Valentines for the parties the next day.  I stopped at our neighborhood store at the last minute like apparently everyone else in our town. I didn’t expect my night to end with a breakdown.

A breakdown at the store the night before Valentine’s Day was the last thing I was expecting.

As I approached the Valentine Card aisle, I noticed another person standing in the aisle and I jokingly said something about all of us last minute people or something along those lines. I looked up and the man looking back at me look quite startled. At first I did not place him. This was a person I had not seen for about two years. However, I knew I knew him from work but the name was ringing a bell. It’s funny how your mind will forget faces of people who had a part in destroying something so precious to you.

Who was this person? Ah, it hit me. It was JM. Who is JM? JM is the person who sold my brother the pills that he overdosed on. He is the person who gave him specific instructions on how to take these drugs. What drugs to chase the other drugs with, etc. etc. This is the person my naive brother thought was his friend. He thought he was cool. Ah, mom, JM is fine.

Not he was not.

JM lied directly to my father’s face months before the overdose after my father explaining my brother’s mental issues. JM lied TO HIS FACE WHEN DIRECTLY ASKED “Are you selling drugs to my son?” His response was, “No.” Um, any freaking normal person would say “WTF do you think I’m selling drugs.” That would be a normal response for a non-drug dealer, right? I would say so. I would be so angry if someone accused me of selling drugs when I clearly was not. However, his response was just “no.” My father pleaded with him to not sell him anything if he was because of his past mental and drug issues.

Clearly he was lying.

He is a drug dealer, a liar, a coward, and sorry excuse for a human being. I get shaky and angry even thinking about him.

A few days after the worst days of my life, I figured out the pass code to my brother’s phone. It was quite simple. It was the number of his favorite IU basketball player. Then, I went about reading the messages.

My brother did not want to die. He did not cause his death on purpose. He simply wanted to escape his mental issues to get through the day. This was a accidental overdose caused from a combination of methadone and oxycontin that was sold to him by someone he considered a friend. Someone he trusted.

My brother was a very trusting person. If JM told him that he would be fine by taking this combination, he believed it. I am also very trusting believing that the police would actually do something with the information I provided to them. Instead, a big fat nothing.

I’ve kept my silence for almost two years now and I can’t contain it anymore. Here’s part of what we sent to the State Police after having a discussion with them about the situation. About six months ago, I also provided this information to the DEA. Not that I think anything will ever be done about it but maybe JM is in their file somewhere.

According to the text message logs, which I have written out in transcript form.  JM and someone named “Doug” were waiting for someone to get out of the hospital to get more pills. There was also information going around that JM was going to a methadone clinic. He was selling these and other things to people like my brother, who passed away after taking them.

While, I know that nothing will bring my brother back, I would like to see this man STOP selling drugs and possibly spare someone else the heart ache we have had to suffer. My brother had a long history of mental problems and drug addictions. We do believe had been off drugs for around a 1 – 1 ½ years before becoming friends with JM, who from the text message history, encouraged him to buy more because it was a better deal and told him how much to take and how to take it to get the best high, which led to his death.

Not only did JM sell my brother these drugs, he SOLD him on them as if they were a great limited time deal.

JM: Its not a bad deal at all. If I had the money I would get em for sure. It would get you thru all week at work. Plus you feel like busting ass all day

JM: Swallow em or let em dissolve in ur mouth or the best way is dissolve in a little bit of water like a dixie cup filled a fourth of the way with water
B: How long does it takem to dissolve?
JM: About 15 to 20 seconds.
B: Cool! Just one at a time or put all your gonna do in at once?


ALL was sent three time. Three effing times. Take them all.

The last message my brother received on his phone was from JM on February 28, 2011 just days before he was pronounced dead just after midnight on March 3, 2011:

Ok just thought I would see how you liked

So back to February at our local store. After realizing who was in the store, I started shaking so bad. This man was in the children’s Valentine’s Day card aisle just shopping for cards like he had a wonderful life.

He obviously recognized me.

I grabbed the first set of cards I saw and checked out. Went to my car. Sent my husband a text message something along the lines of “Effing JM is in X store.”  My husband responds that I should just leave because nothing good will come of any confrontations.

I went back into the store. I kind of spaced out around the front cash registers. I wanted him to see me. I wanted him to feel guilty when he saw me.

I saw several people I know during this time including one of my son’s teachers, my uncles, several other people I know. I couldn’t make a scene right here in the middle of the store with half the town in it at the time, could I?

I wanted to scream out, “This the *(&(I*&(*&(%$#@ that sold my brother the pills that caused his death” or “DRUG DEALER ALERT on AISLE 5” or anything so that people would know who this person was.

He would start to come towards the front of the store, see me, and then go back to pretending to shop.

I stood there. With a angry pained face. All the memories of March 2011 rushing back at me. The store seemed to stop moving and go silent almost like what happens in the movies before something bad is about to happen.

I hurried out of the store.

I broke down on the drive home. I had not had a break down in so long.

Sometimes it’s good to have a good cry. It’s never good to have a good cry while you are driving.

I sat in the car in the garage for a few minutes trying to gain my composure before going into the house. I didn’t want to have to explain myself to the kids. Sof somehow hadn’t noticed in the car as she sits directly behind me and high tailed it out of the car when we arrived home to show off the new Valentine’s to the other kids.

My husband says JM obviously feels guilty since he hid from me at the store, that he has to live with that guilt. I want more.

I want him to know that I know. I know everything that he probably doesn’t think I know. I know what happened in his own words.  I want him to know that he contributed to the death of someone who was loved very much, someone who is missed dearly every single day, someone who mattered. I want him to remember.


Plane Crash Dream

I often have dreams about flying on a plane and it crashing. However, the one I had last night was a new one.

I was sitting in my mini van with my youngest daughter sleeping in her car seat. Weirdly, I was sitting on the street I grew up on in front of my childhood home. When I look up into the sky and see a plane do a twist and came crashing down right in front of us. It didn’t land on our van but it was enough to give the car blow back and I heard myself say in my dream….I’m so sorry honey…

Then I woke up startled.

It was disturbing enough that I remembered all those details. Usually, I never remember my dreams. So I googled it and came up with anxiety over a situation you can’t control.

Does it have to do with my brother’s death? I was on the street that we grew up as children…I have no control over that situation…


Grave Site Flowers?

After dropping my kids off at golf camp this past week, I decided to take advantage of my quiet time and go for a quick walk. The city park is just a few minute walk from the golf course so I decided to go that route. Which, I forgot winds right around the cemetery.

Of course, I teared up as I walked by because it made me think of my brother, who I miss every day. However, it made me think about the flowers and other objects people put on graves. I’ve never been one to take part in this ritual, even after my grandpa, uncle, and cousin’s son died. I’ve never felt a connection to a grave site.

In the past, I thought maybe there was something wrong with me that I didn’t feel a need to do this. Or maybe I didn’t feel enough of a connection with those family members I’ve lost in the past to feel the need to do this. I’m still not feeling it even though I’ve lost one of the closest people to me.

I still do not get the action of putting flowers and other objects on a gravestone. If it makes people feel better or feel they have a connection, then so be it. I just don’t want to be judged because I don’t feel it.

I just don’t feel that connection to this place. The place where he is in my heart and my thoughts. Every single day, I still think of my brother in some way. It doesn’t make me a cold person to not feel a connection with his final “resting” spot, right?

WWBD? (What Would Billie Do?) Well, Billie used to drive by Grandpa Bill’s grave site and honk and wave.


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