long ago.

I am writing this because I know I'm not the only one.

This month in another State, they found my brother slumped over in his car in a motel parking lot. A brief newspaper article online quoted a responding deputy, who described the body as still "warm."

He was already gone.

Ten years ago, when our mother decided to stop chemo for her aggressive 4th stage ovarian cancer, I volunteered to my mother and my elderly father that I could attend to her needs 24/7 at the end stage. Her wish was to die at home.

I moved into their carefully arranged bedroom, with its newly loaned hospital bed, and cared for her physical and medical needs. I stayed up with her when she couldn't sleep, telling her stories she'd ask me to repeat each night. When she could sleep, I would try to catch up on my own here and there, or clean up the house. The Hospice program would make their visits to check in. 

My sisters would come in to fill the gaps when they could, and our brother also wanted to be included; he moved into the extra guest bedroom. We did what we did because we loved my mother. 

However, situations would escalate whenever my brother was asked to complete a task. During this time my mother and father once got into a terrible argument with each other because of my brother's carelessness in performing a simple errand. 

I remember telling my father that he needed to work it out with my mom before it was too late. I took him by the hand and led him into their bedroom, now my mother's hospice room. I told my parents how much I loved them.

"Now please work it out, please."   

Of course.

Fifty-Seven years of marriage. There was closure. They did work it out. 

But I couldn't clean up everything.

I kept picking up near empty glasses of what appeared to be water but was vodka sitting around the house daily ("This is the third glass I found today - the hospice nurse is coming over!"). 

I was cleaning up shit literally and figuratively while trying to help our mother die. I knew who was drinking - my mother too ill, my father on blood thinners...

Without including my mother for obvious reasons, I confronted my brother, and notified my family that our brother had an alcohol problem. I knew the signs, having been prepped when I worked in Law Enforcement. The signs were all there.

My brother was defensive; I was one of those judgmental christian nuts he argued to the others. My father was convinced it was my brother's temporary coping mechanism. My family thought I was overreacting when I wanted to lock up the liquor cabinet. He was so damn smart at hiding things. So convincing that it was someone else's fault. 

Alcoholism is a con artist disease that never tells the truth.

He was furious at me. He once was an affluent business executive, successfully working in the medical field - HOW DARE I. But I wouldn't take back what I knew to be true. We exchanged horrible words. Afterwards, my brother begun to drink elsewhere. 

My mother died soon after. We got through the funeral. And I moved to Montana.

Our contact with him after my mother's death was limited.  He knew I knew how diseased his thinking had become. He was once so brilliant. I am very sure he hated that I knew. After all, he was ten years older; he was supposed to be the big brother, I the baby of the family. We never had a strong family tie because of age differences, but we were family. 

Until I pointed out his disease.

When he finally admitted he had a problem, it certainly wasn't to me. There were numerous attempts at rehab and AA, yet no apologies. It was easier for him to make sardonic, witty remarks at a distance, to keep convincing people that he quit drinking for good, and it was easier for me just to try to forget about him entirely. 

He moved on to destroy other relationships. I stayed away. You cannot fix what doesn't want to be fixed. And sometimes things are so broken they can never be fixed. 

Any possible reconciliation was on hold.

Now it's permanent.

Three bottles were found in his motel room.

I know some of you have gone through this.

I tell myself my brother died long ago.

I didn't know the man in the car.

I wrote this because I know I'm not the only one.




  1. You are NOT the only one--for a different reason, I, too, have an "ex-brother"!!

  2. No, we can't choose our blood family. You, however, are a chosen part of "our" family and when you hurt, we hurt. Bless your tender heart.

  3. I am so sorry for not only the loss of your brother but the loss of the life he could have had and the relationship that was lost. there are never easy answers, just lines we must draw and bear the consequences.

  4. I know too. I have a younger brother who has been sober now for 14 years, but before that I was sure I that any day I could get that phone call.

  5. Many of us, me included, do not have picture perfect families. I am so sorry for your loss.

  6. My brother died at the age of 40 from drugs, couldn't fix him either, and good thing I knew it. It was so much worse for my mother. While you are not the only one, he was your brother, your big brother, and it truly helps to write things down. Thank you for sharing this with us all. Love, the Swedish (you know what).

  7. P.S. Love your header photo.

  8. You're right. You are not alone. Not in your loss. Not in your frustration and despair. Thank you for your words. So sorry for all that is so senselessly lost. Hang in there. No lop

  9. Ignore the last 5 letters. Trying to text on a phone with stupid fingers. Sorry. EB

  10. No, you aren't the only one... most of my family on the maternal side are drug addicts/alcoholics. My mother, aunt, myself, and my daughter are the only ones to have escaped, out of dozens. Sending gentle hugs.

  11. So sorry for your loss, a loss that was years ago and now forever. God bless you and all who knew him.

  12. Wow...no you are not the only one. Sadly, your experience resonates with many of your friends and followers. Nevertheless, he was your brother. He was your blood. Now you are one less. A loss just the same. Maybe even greater than others in many ways. May you find peace and acceptance in the permanence of his absence. And the knowledge that he is no longer suffering. My sincerest condolences for your loss. The one years ago. And now. Sending vibes of love and light.

  13. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. My brother was once the same, but I think he has reformed. However, his son, from his first marriage, breaks my heart. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    Cindy Bee

  14. That must have been painful to write, Janice. I am sorry for your loss(es)

  15. I'm sorry to hear about your brother. :(

  16. I'm so sorry to hear this. No matter the distance, it still hurts. Hugs, dear girl.

  17. It's like waiting for the other shoe to fall....you can feel it coming.
    So sorry.

  18. Oh you are right, you are NOT alone. Feel this in my heart/gut. love to you.

  19. No....you are not alone.......

  20. Sorry for your loss. And no, you are not the only one.

  21. The tragedy of all this is it did not have to end this way. But so often it does. I come from a long line of alcholics. When I was 24, I had a decision to make. I could drink or have a child. I chose the child and very seldon do I drink anything because I know where it will lead. I am so sorry for your loss. But, as you said, he was lost many years ago.

  22. It's very hard to be the one in the family that refused to sweep things under the rug, but the other option was unbearable. So we chose action. (((hugs)))

  23. Family is still family, even when they are alienating themselves. Prayers for his soul.

  24. We have similar stories...mine with uglier twist and turns. My brother died alone, in a jail cell, after having a grand mal seizure brought on from alcohol withdrawal. My father was also an alcoholic but went sober when my mother had a heart attack. He then developed cancer while she recovered and would not seek medical attention until she was healthy again...by that time it was too late. My family blamed my brothers alcoholism on my father, but I only blamed him. Out of 6 siblings he was the only one that chose to drink himself to death! The day after we buried our mother he stole her wedding band and left town. He eventually mailed it back to my sister with an apology. Everyone forgave him but me...he died shortly thereafter.

  25. I don't have experience with an alcoholic, but every family has its own demons and skeletons. I have found more than I ever bargained for researching my family genealogy. Sending {{hugs}} to you..I am sorry for your pain.

  26. My brother died a couple of months ago. The fact that I don't know the exact date is telling. As many of the others have said, sadly, you are not alone.

  27. I know my baby Brother's date as well as I do his birth date...
    November 4, 2012.
    What an "anniversary" to have to recall every year.

  28. Hugs to you dear one. I'm so sorry....


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