AnnaDrewKatieTristanIan. This is what my mother named her five children. She made sure that as each one of us came along, our names flowed together. Regardless of anything that has or could happen, we are and will always be AnnaDrewKatieTristanIan.
My brother, Drew, was only 14-months younger than me, to the day. I was there when he was born, and I was there when he died. It is odd to think that someone’s entire life was lived within mine. Drew was only 18 when he committed suicide.
People do not just commit suicide without reason. There is usually a combination of factors that lead someone to make the final decision to end their own life. Drew was loved beyond measure. Unfortunately, Drew probably did not feel that love for a good portion of his childhood. Our biological dad was not around, and our step-father was cruel to Drew, among other things. He constantly bullied and belittled him. That, combined with the fact that Drew’s advanced intellect made it impossible for him to conform to the rigid order that public schools require, led to an unhappy and depressed child. I can only imagine that Drew did not feel understood at home or at school.
However, we certainly didn't have a terrible childhood. We spent a lot of time outdoors. We fished, hiked and spent countless hours wading through creeks. Our grandparents were our safe haven. Their house was a sanctuary when we could not find peace in our own. We had a mother that worked incredibly hard to provide for us, and to give us everything that we ever wanted or needed. She always understood that Drew marched to the beat of his own drum, which was a beat that didn’t agree with societal standards.
Drew died on a Wednesday. I was driving when my Mom called and told me to pull over. Her voice was low and hard, and I just knew that something terrible had happened. She was confused, and she said that she thought Drew was dead. I made the longest drive of my life to her apartment, which was only a few miles away. When I got to her home, there were police everywhere, and at that point I knew that he was gone. The two youngest boys had found him when they had returned home from school that day. Tristan was only 11 and Ian was only 7.
The days following Drew’s death went quickly. All of our family and friends gathered at my grandparent’s house, but I felt the best comfort came from being with Drew. Being inside the funeral home gave me peace. As long as I could see him, I could still pretend that he was here. It sounds strange, but his body is all that we had left. After he was buried, we had even less of him. For me, the real pain did not come until after the funeral.
Drew was his own kind of person. He was a genius of remarkable sorts, and spent his time studying quantum physics, designing computer programs, and mastering the art of unicycling. Drew was also very passionate about his family. He had a very strong bond with his Granddad, who always supported his ventures. Drew also had a special connection with his nephew Levi, who was only one when he died. I will make sure that Levi grows up knowing the love that Drew had for him.
My brother was a Pandeist. He believed that God and nature are one. Drew believed in science. Before his death, Drew shared the saying, “According to the Law of the Conservation of Energy not a bit of you is gone, you are just less orderly.” I do not believe that Drew is in a heaven or in a hell. I believe he is now a part of the universe. I just know that Drew is out there, wandering the galaxy, discovering the world that he so longed to fix. I find peace in knowing that Drew is exactly where he wants to be.
Drew is not defined by his choice to leave this earth. He is defined by the person that he was while he was here. His life had meaning, and suicide does not take that away. Since my brother’s death I have come to realize that there is a stigma attached with suicide. People are generally not as sympathetic to the family members of a suicide victim as they would be to, say, a cancer victim’s family. A death is a death, and no matter how they died, a loved one was lost.
Our family has heard multiple times that Drew’s choice was selfish, but this is not the way I view it. A selfish act is one that benefits yourself without regard for other people. My brother cherished his family, and I do not believe that he would intentionally harm the ones that he cared so much for. Drew was an incredibly analytical person and I am certain that he felt there was no other way out. I am aware of the fact that many people feel the same way, and have come to the same conclusion that Drew did; that death was an escape from this world.
However, I can tell you that suicide is never the option. People suffering from mental illness should never feel ashamed or scared to reach out for help. It is something that needs to be taken seriously.
We are better because Drew was here. I focus on his energy, and the fact that it still lingers. His voice can still be heard when you dial his phone number. His speech and debate presentations can still be seen on YouTube. His boots still sit next to my Mother’s front door. The Law of Thermodynamics states that no energy gets created in the universe and none is destroyed. Drew is not gone from this world; he is just less orderly.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, there is help through the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK