On this day 10 years ago, I received a call from my dad that I will never forget. Even though it was 10 years ago, it seems like it was yesterday and I remember the events of that day perfectly. My brother, Matt and I had been talking at least one time per week for few months. He was a truck driver doing daily routes so we would talk while he was driving and sometimes those calls would last an hour or longer. This particular week, we had not talked yet and I was going to call him that day, but didn't. I had gotten busy with calls I was making to providers trying to get services for our special needs son. That evening around 9:30pm, I saw that my dad was calling. This was odd because he never called me this late even though to most this isn't late. My stepmom had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and my first thoughts were that something was wrong with her. I answered the phone "Hey dad, what's up?"....."Martina, Matt has shot himself and he didn't make it".
I was shocked, stunned and in disbelief, "What?????". All I could say was, "I am on my way". I lived about 25 minutes away from my brother's house. I ran upstairs to tell my husband and then bolted out of the house. I knew that my brother and his wife had been having some marital issues but he desired to stay together and work things out. Family was everything to him. They had two beautiful little girls (who today are not so little anymore) and I knew they were his life, this just didn't make sense. Why?? Why?? Isn't that what most people question when a loved one commits suicide? I know people say "I should have seen the signs" when they reflect on the situation. I'm sorry, I truly believe that people who intend to take their own lives don't exhibit signs that are noticeable hence the reason they are successful in committing suicide. My brother had never mentioned anything or acted like this was even an issue and I had point blank asked him if he would ever do anything to harm himself. He quickly answered to me "No, absolutely not". I had begged him if he ever got into a situation where he was feeling so down and low that he would call me so we could talk. He assured me he was fine. I had told him if she wants out of the marriage and you have tried, there isn't anything you can do, just figure it out and do what is best for the girls.
I saved the last text message from him where I had asked him if he had had an opportunity to have a talk with his wife yet and his response was "Now, we are having it now", which was a couple of weeks prior to him taking his own life. I cannot tell you how much I regret to this day that I didn't take time out and call him that day. I also know that it likely would not have made any difference in the events that transpired later that evening. It amazes me how our brains remember every detail about certain events in our lives. I remember the shirt I was wearing because it was a shirt from a baseball tournament one of our sons participated in a few years prior that had two guns on it. To this day, I will never wear that shirt again, I think I may have even thrown it out by now. Navigating this tragic situation was new to all of us. I had lost loved ones in the past but this was the first loss that was closest to me.
His girls have grown up to be such wonderful, smart, beautiful young women and I hate that he has not been here for them. Its been a hard road for me figuring out where I fit in to all of this and what I needed to do to make things better for everyone else. I started an "Annual day of Hope/kindness" to celebrate him on this day every year. My brother was a very giving person. He was kind to most everyone, never met a stranger and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. On the other hand, my brother was very blunt person and said whatever was on his mind regardless of who it offended and he was very impulsive. If I could talk to him one more time, I would make sure he knew how vitally important he was to this family. How he was irreplaceable in our lives. That is my message to others - "You canNOT be replaced" (check them out https://www.youcannotbereplaced.com) Their site quote is "No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted" Aesop. We should celebrate kindness to others every day of the year, not just one day. You have no idea the day that someone else is having or what they may be going through. I can tell you from personal experience that from an outer appearance a person can appear to be "ok" while on the inside they are about to lose it!
If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis or feeling like there is no hope for a better tomorrow, please reach out to your doctor or dial 988 from your phone www.988lifeline.org. I live in Indiana and here you can text IN to 741741 for free 24/7 crisis counseling. If you are in another state, check and see, your state probably offers something as well. You are more than welcome to reach out to me and I will be happy to talk to you or help you find the resources you need.