The 48 hours we didn't know where my brother was, was hell. Sick with worry, mind racing, unsure what to do, beating yourself up because maybe you should be doing more, trying not to let yourself think the worst....
It was 1:00 in the morning but might as well have been 1 in the afternoon. Sitting on the couch with my sister and dad. TV is on, but no one is really watching it.
"Leigha, can you cut hair?" My sister asked.
"Sort of? Maybe?" I replied.
"I just need these split ends cut off."
So at 1:00 Saturday morning, I gave my sister a haircut with a pair scissors that I pulled out of a mug that contained everything from pens to chop sticks. I didn't know what I was doing, and these scissors were designed to cut anything but hair. But my sister is not exactly the type of person who cares what her hair looks like. The feeling in the house was eerie. We still couldn't really believe we would never see him again. We kept trying to come up with plausible reasons as to where he was and why he hadn't contacted us.
My theory that I was holding onto was that he had used again, he knew my dad would flip out, and he didn't want that to happen while I was there with the kids. I was supposed to be going home on Monday and I thought for sure, once he knew I was gone with the kids he would come home. There are many reasons this doesn't make much sense, but I really thought it might explain some things. I was sure he hadn't called because his phone died, his phone died, not him.
"Do you think this will be that weird night I cut your hair in the kitchen, the night before we find out our brother's dead?" I had to say it out loud. I was trying to be funny, because I really didn't think he was dead. But as I said it out loud it didn't seem funny.
"I don't know." Was my sister's only reply. I needed conversation. What was she thinking? How was she feeling?
"How are you feeling?"
"I don't feel anything."
"I wish I could stop feeling." I said. "Do you feel like you already lost your brother a years ago, since he started using?"
"I don't know. Why? Is that how you feel?"
I don't know when I lost my brother. I had tried to reach out to him over and over again, but with very little response. Him and I never even had a conversation about his drug use. I would text him every week, just little things to let him know I loved him and was thinking of him. It brings me peace now to know that he had to know I loved him. There was nothing else I could have done to help him, to let him know how much I loved him. I wanted him to come live with me and my kids. I was 100% willing, without thinking twice about it, to let a heroin addict come live in my house with my four small children. I just felt like if he could get a fresh start things would be okay. If he could grasp a taste of what my life is like, this normal functioning family, maybe it could be enough to give him hope for himself.
I wanted JT's story to end differently. I so, so wanted it to end with a fairy tale of him falling in love, ridding himself of his addiction, and living the rest of his life in peace. It was not supposed to end with him dying alone, at the age of 28. The only hope I have now is that his story is not over. This life is truly not the end. He is still here, free from his body and therefore free of his addiction. He is still growing and I will see him again. Happily ever after isn't always how we picture it. I'm willing to have faith that there still is a happily ever after, after this life.