On Tuesday I found myself racing to the hospital thinking that it would be the last time I saw my brother. This is the first moment I saw him. It’s not an easy image and it was the hardest moment of my life. I put this picture up here because this is what heroin use leads to. This is not an easy image to put up here for all the world to see. People may judge. People may shake their head in disgust. But this is the reality of heroin addiction. It’s not pretty. It’s not glamourous. It’s not cool. It fucking thrives on human life and it takes no prisoners. No matter who you are. I put this image here to remind me that the moment I thought that my brother was going to die was the worst moment in my life. I put this up here because I want him to see it and never forget it. I want him to remember what it did to him. I may not be able to save my brother but I know that using my voice to talk about heroin addiction is important in this very public health crisis. I put this up here because maybe somewhere someone else’s sister thinks their brother has a drug problem and maybe this image will help someone else. I put this up here because I want him to save his own life.
For 10 years I have been preparing for his death. Over time I have distanced myself from him thinking it would be easier when the heroin eventually took his life. I enjoyed him when he was sober but stayed away when he used. Now I know that I was wrong to do this.
On Tuesday I picked my daughter up from school. My son had to stay after so we went to go get a snack. My phone rang an unrecognized number, and as I answered I felt my stomach drop. The man on the other end announced himself as a doctor. My brother was in the hospital for a severe case of pneumonia and couldn’t breathe properly. They needed to put him on a ventilator. And because my father was out of town, I needed to give them consent. I asked the doctor “Is this life threatening?”
“Yes it is.”
My breath stopped. “Yes it is.” My stomach ached in pain. “Yes it is.” I pulled the car over, told my daughter I needed a moment. “Yes it is.” I got out and sobbed. “Yes it is.” Barely able to say a word in between sobs of pain and shaking beyond control, I quietly muttered into the phone “yes, do whatever you have to do to save my brother’s life.”
I didn’t know what to do. My body just stopped working. I couldn’t breathe. I could’t move. I slowly got back in my car trying not to scare my daughter but she knew. She knew it was him. We went back to school to pick up my son and quickly made our way downtown to find my brother. The ride was horrible. I have never felt so much pain or hurt. Losing him at the moment was unimaginable, yet I had been preparing for it over the past 10 years. How had this happened? I knew what heroin could do to him. I knew. I kept myself away just so I could avoid feeling this way. You know what? I was wrong. I can’t avoid feeling pain when it comes to my brother just because I keep my distance. I was wrong. I was so wrong.
I love him. I love him for who he once was. I love him as an addict. He is a part of my soul and no matter what I want him to live. Please God let him live.
If he pulls through no matter what, using or clean, I will call him everyday. I will text him everyday. I will tell him I love him no matter what. He deserves that. No matter what.