Mission Statement

Seeking the good, the light and a smidgeon of sanity out of tragedy.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Death In The Family

One twin brother takes his own life; how will the other twin react?

It was only a week ago I got the call. It's the type of phone call where you have an overwhelming sense of disbelief and the feeling of unreality makes you disconnect from all that is around you. I was truly numb. To hear that one of my twin half-brothers deliberately jumped off of a 19-story-high building in Philadelphia at 6AM that Sunday morn still confounds my sense of logic. Even a week later, I can’t imagine the darkness and hopelessness that had to be there for him to even take that step. I try, but I can’t.

I tried to help him four years earlier, but that was a failure. I don’t blame myself. You can’t help one who doesn’t help their self. I briefly played the “what if” game, but I realized it was a futile exercise at this point. My brother – well, I loved him very, very much, but he was broken. The news was a shock, but dare I say, it wasn’t surprising.

Now, it’s my other twin half-brother who is in the USDB – they were identical twins and as close as twins can be. So, how do you get an emergency message to an inmate inside the USDB? I found the answer through a private Facebook group, “Loved ones that are away.” I thank them for their quick guidance. It turns out the American Red Cross handles these type of events through their Emergency Communication Services.  To clarify, this is a service for military families, and thus, the USDB falls under their purview.

American Red Cross
I reached out to the Red Cross and the woman on the other end couldn’t have been more sympathetic and helpful. The Red Cross does verify this type of information before they relay it along, and I gave them the Medical Examiner’s number at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia. Shortly after that, I received an email that the message had been passed along to the Command at the USDB, and not long after that, one relative and one family friend verified that my brother was calling them with the sad news.

I have not spoken with my brother directly yet. I wanted him to speak with our father, who was on-site and had a first-hand account of what happened. Even now, the pieces are still coming together, and I’m filling in the picture. I will write to my brother soon. I’m at my best when I write. However, I did want him to have the news as soon as possible.

My twin brothers are only 24-years-old. One chose to end his life, and the other is in prison for life. It is not something I wish on any family.

Many are concerned how my brother inside the USDB will take this news about his twin. Several have asked me if he could do something similar to himself – and the answer is “I doubt it.” No, interesting enough, my twin brothers donned facades. The “aggressive” one with the larger than life ego was the one who was the more fragile of the two and the one who jumped. The one with the “gentler, sweeter” disposition was the one who proved capable of murder and is inside the system. He is strong mentally however.

It has been a couple years since I last blogged about either of them, but my one brother inside the USDB has changed – he’s getting smarter and has for the most part accepted his fate that he will be there for years to come. Buddhism and meditation are a big part of his daily ritual, so just based on those practices, I think he’ll hold solid.

Will he change? Yes, I think this will impact him greater than any other individual out there. This was his twin, a part of himself. They talked every week since he’s been on the inside. How he will adjust to that missing influence only time will tell. I know he has friends on the inside, but I can’t imagine anyone will ever be able to fill this particular void.

For me, I have gone through my sleepless nights and fits of anger, but I have come to accept that I will not embrace the one brother again in this life. I have arranged for his ashes to spread by his Boy Scout troop on their annual backcountry trip, where he will be remembered on the Tooth of Time. My brother was an Eagle Scout and was his best in that environment.

For the other, I have promised him that as long as he doesn’t push me away, I will be a steady presence in his life. I write him once a month, I visit him once a year, and I am there for him. When he asks me for something, I do it. He’s in prison, but he’s a good soul. He still has potential, and there is still a life he can live on the outside at some point. I will be there for him if he wants.

For my other brother, may he rest in peace.

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