An Open Letter to My Brother

Dear J,

The deputy coroner told me that your neighbor had borrowed a toaster from you, and wanted to return it. He assumed you were home because your car was in the driveway. When you didn’t respond to his repeated knocking, he called law enforcement. Sheriff’s deputies arrived to perform a welfare check. When you did not answer the door, they forcibly entered your house and found you fully clothed, facedown on the living room floor. You had been dead for some time.

I remember your being facedown on another floor many years ago. It was in the spare bedroom of our grandparents’ house on the prairie. I was 4, you were 2, and our sister hadn’t been born yet.

It was a cloudy, sultry afternoon, the kind of weather that precedes a thunderstorm. Distant lightning flickered in the sky as Mom tucked us in bed for a nap. We hadn’t been lying there long, when the heavens opened up and a deluge of biblical proportions poured from the heavens. Lightning that had been miles away only minutes before, now flashed directly overhead. Thunder shook the little white clapboard house like a terrier shaking a rat.

You jumped from the bed, terrified, and started screaming, “Mommy! Mommy!” But rain and hail slammed against the little house and thunder roared so ferociously that she couldn’t hear you. You tried to crawl under the bed, but there wasn’t enough room, so you lay facedown on the bare wood floor, sobbing and crying out, “Mommy! Mommy!”

Protectively, I laid myself down on top of you and whispered in your ear, “It’s all right, it’s all right”—but I doubt you heard me over the roar of the rain and hail pummeling the tin roof. I stayed on top of you until the storm subsided, and I was sure that you were safe.

This morning I read these words from an ancient Hebrew poem: “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 90:11, RSV). Is it too outlandish to imagine an angel spread protectively over you in your final moments as you lay facedown on the floor? Perhaps you even heard a gentle whisper: “It’s all right, it’s all right.”


Your brother

Posted on October 21, 2009, in bereavement, death, relationships, suicide. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I don’t think it’s too much at all to imagine that he was watched over – and warmly greeted – by those behind the veil. The thought brings me comfort when I think about my mother’s final breath…


  2. This has brought me to tears.
    Many blessings to you.

    • magicalmysticalteacher

      Carletta, another person told me the same thing: Reading this piece brought her to tears. I have to confess that I wrote it with dry eyes…but there are unexpected moments when tears spring up. They always catch me off guard. Because of all the horrible things my brother did and said to me over the years, I never thought I’d feel saddened by his death, but I do. Thank you for stopping by.

  3. This sounds healing for you.

    Next week is 3 years since I lost my mom. And this year is 13 years since I lost a brother.

    Hang in there.

    • magicalmysticalteacher

      Losing loved ones is not an easy task, is it, Tamara? Healing comes to the bereaved in many ways, and for me it comes most profoundly through writing.

  4. Thinking of you, MMT.

  5. It is the farthest thing from outlandish…
    I like to believe flights of angels see us to our rest.

  6. “How can I forget you when I have carved you on the palm of my hand.” (Isaiah 49:15)

    I hope you heal.

    Someone gave me the saying above twenty years ago. Somedays it helps.

  7. I came here for your Ruby Tuesday post but I find myself unable to simply comment on it and skip blithely away in the face of your pain and loss. I’m so sorry for whatever brought your brother to this place, and I hope that in the end it brought him the peace he needed.

    I hope that in time you too will find peace, the peace of the living that keeps them living, and able to find joy again.

  8. I feel sure God was there or sent an angel.
    Your letter fogged my glasses.

  9. You protected him, and you helped him during a scary storm. The picture of you guarding him is incredibly beautiful.

    Have you read Conversations with God?

    You will get your answers if you ask, my friend.

    I also believe that when it is time to take your last breath, God will come and give you peace. I believe that for your brother. Perhaps he is no longer in that scary place.

    I have two boys. This gives me much peace. Thank you MMT…

  10. Such sorrow. I’m sorry.

  11. I am so sorry for your loss.

  12. Thank you so much for posting a comment on my blog. Not many people stop by much less leave comments. I figured I would check out your blog and I found this letter to your brother. I think that it is wonderful that you wrote this, it is sensitive, loving and heartwarming. I did much the same thing when my grandfather passed away. I have a sister and I couldn’t imagine what I would do if anything ever happened to her. I feel your pain and my prayers and thoughts are with you. I truly believe that angels are with us to guide us and help us when it is our time. Your brother might just be looking down on you right now saying, “It’s going to be alright.”

  13. I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. Your memory of him as a child is so powerful. It’s hard to loose someone to suicide. I think he’s ok; safe and no longer suffering.

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