where the writers are
My brother, RIP; part II

In my last entry, I mentioned that my 25-year-old brother, though having some rocky times in college, he seemed to pull things together. He was working in a Gucci retail store, lived near his best friend from college, and had a fiancé. Though we were only 30 miles apart, I did not see him during this time period, so I don't know the full story on how he was really doing, but everything turned upside down for him rapidly.

 One day he was working at Gucci, and it seems the next day he gave away all of his belongings accept a pair of running shorts and shoes. He threatened and scared his best friend to the point where he called the cops and my brother was taken in on a 5150 hold, which eventually lead to his first hospitalization, lasting 6 weeks. My mom said that he vacillated between doing the Thorazine shuffle and thinking he was the drummer for U2.

When he came out of the hospital he had no belongings, no job, and no fiancé. I am not sure what helped him transition, but eventually he got on his feet and underwent a training program for a major retailer. He met a very nice younger woman (by this time he was 27 and she was probably about 19) and they became engaged. They married because she was a good catholic girl and they couldn't live together. When I went to the wedding, I had to excuse myself from his presence because he was treating her in a very immature and rude manner, teasing her and making inappropriate sexual comments while having breakfast with my mother and me. After this breakfast, his fiancé said to me, "you don't think I should marry him, do you?” Really I just thought she had no idea what she was in for.

At my brother's wedding, my mother showed me a large lump on her breast, which turned out to be breast cancer and she would end up taking a year of work to seek treatment. My brother was taking his meds and he seemed fairly stable, though when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, he had a hard time coping and seemed very depressed. I visited my mom after her surgery and since I was in a stable job and relationship, my brother and his bride offered to move near my mom so they could be of assistance to her in her time of need.

My brother started gambling and drinking heavily, stealing money and checks from my mother, and eventually she had to evict him and the bride from her house with the help of the sheriff. Their next move was to Oregon where my brother desired to work for Nike. In a manic state he was arrested on the Nike campus, running naked and picking flowers. During this same time period he tried to jump in front of cars and he totaled his own car- with his hands. He threatened to kill my mother if she didn't send him money and he held a knife at his wife's throat. That was the last straw and she left him. My father bailed my brother out again, moved him to Florida, and endured more years of watching him go on and off his meds and cycle through the local psyche facility.

Somewhere in the process he got an older lady friend pregnant, they married, and they had a daughter. They lived on the verge of poverty with my brother's illness constantly threatening all of them and their well-being. My father and stepmom helped out by buying them a car and even a house, which my brother and wife later abandoned when she left him and he eventually followed her to a new place. On more then one occasion they broke up in this fashion and there life was a daily struggle. He was arrested more then once and spent time in and out of the psyche hospital.

My brother seemed to have no interests outside of work; he no longer worked out, he occasionally went to church, and he had no friends. He spent his free time watching TV or DVD's, shopping on credit cards he could never pay, and taking his daughter to the movies or chuck e cheese. He would call my dad every so often asking for $20 for haircut or money to take his daughter to lunch.

At some point he lost a lot of weight and nobody seemed too concerned. It would turn out that the weight loss was due to him going off one of his medications without the advice of his doctors. The cycle began again and he left his wife, but he seemed happy about, even though he was homeless. He was kicked out of a shelter for fighting and then out of a friend's home for bizarre behavior. In a manic state he went to his wife's place of employment and tried to disable her car so that he could talk to her, perhaps even save her from her distress when her car would not start.

However, somebody at her work saw his actions and called the police. When the police arrived, my brother and he created a dangerous high-speed chase with the cops. When he finally disabled the car and was trying to run away, he acted violently toward the officers and was put in jail.

My dad and stepmom refused to bail him out or get an attorney and this was no a big time offense. His public defender gave him a deal with 3 years in the state pen and we were all mostly hopeful that with such structure and proper medication he would be all right.

But something started to go terribly wrong in prison and my stepmom and dad received frequent incomprehensible letters from my brother, stating he off his meds or that he felt he might die. Other times he seemed lucid and able to cope with the challenges of prison, teaching GED classes to others and trying to make friends and get along with the guards.

About a month before he died, my brother sent a letter that repeated some of the phrases over and over again. He also stated that he was off his meds and he was afraid he would die. My dad and stepmom refused to contact the prison and they never visited him, the excuse being that my father was too fragile from Parkinson’s disease. Meanwhile, I was 3000 miles away, dealing with a toddler and a newborn, and I had no legal rights to inquire about his treatment and well being, though I encouraged my dad and stepmom to do so.

To be continued...