Sunday morning February 14, 2010. This is the day that changed me forever. I was no longer just Kiana. It was a normal Sunday afternoon. My sisters and me had spent the day around town with our auntie Kim, and now were doing all the homework he had procrastinated until now.
Everything was normal until the phone rang and Mom started acting all secretive. She went up stairs in a hurry and stayed there for a long time. Kim told me not to bother her. I heard her say the name Shaun before she disapeared. I sighed, "what now?" I thought. Shaun, my older brother, (24 at the time) was always getting into trouble! Ha! Trouble –that was putting it lightly. He had terrible depression and bipolar. I remember he was so up one day, full of happy-go-lucky-off-the-wall ideas, and then the next day I could see the light leaving his eyes. I figured today was just another unfortunate event like he got drunk, stole the dogs and drove off again.
Looking back, I would give anything if that had been all that was wrong. I remember going over what it could be this time. "Maybe he got into an accident this time, maybe this time he cut himself too deep and needed stitches, maybe he crashed the car." Mom wasn't looking at me, or slowing down to give me a chance to ask her.
Something that haunts me to this day is what I said next.
Naïve to what was really going on, laughing at myself I asked, "Mom, is Shaun dead?" and then I laughed it off. Mom looked at me wide-eyed shook it off and left the room. I got worried, Mom always responded when I asked her things like that. But this time, nothing! Two hours later, after more mysterious phone calls, Mom called a family meeting with me and my sisters. The little ones wouldn't sit still and resisted because we have family meetings all the time but they never result in anything more serious then what to have for dinner. But something was off about Mom. So I told them to shut up and listen.
That's when she told us.
Shaun had taken his own life last night with sleeping pills and alcohol.
Darkness. Cold. Numbness. Then I forgot how to breathe, I didn't want to breathe. I detached from myself. Everything moved in slow motion. I was an alien in someone else's skin. My sisters were bawling and devastated all around me and I couldn't do anything. I wasn't even able to cry. Just sit numbly. Then shock! I remembered how to breathe! Gasping in confusion and a tidal wave of sorrow. Next blinded by anger, hot tears stung my eyes and melt my cheeks. All I could do was cry silently in Kim' arm and shake violently. "No!!!" I screamed. "You're lying! This isn't true! Shaun was getting better! He was GETTING BETTER! NOOO!!!!! how can he be…" I was over whelmed with tears now. Teaching myself how to breathe and keep breathing. My mind was racing, "Shaun's dead! What the hell! He took his own life!? Who said it was his life to take anyway?!"
I remember pure pain and betrayal that my body physically hurt. My head was light
and it hurt a lot! My heart pounded in my chest so loud I thought the neighbors could hear. That night the family didn't eat, we just sat in heavy silence, drained, and staring at eacthother's feet, until the little ones sobbed quietly and Mom tried to be strong for them.
Dad was furious with MOM for telling us before he was able to be there. (he had been finishing up with the police and the coroner that afternoon) Shaun was my dad's son from his first marriage before Mom (he was my adoptive half step brother or something but I just called him FAMILY! And the best big brother I could ask for!)
Shaun was brilliant! Too smart for his own good. In high school he refused to complete any assignment he found "too easy" for him. He even gave the class a good laugh when he'd stump his own professors. Like me, he had a passionate knack for art. Although, he never felt it was good enough which breaks my heart. Shaun was an amazing big brother! He fought any guy who hurt me and gave me advice when the Parentals were on my case. He helped with homework, even math! He loved French and Spanish he could pick up a language like that!
He adored his dog Heidi; when she died I think it was one of the driving factors that pushed him over the edge.
The next day I woke up after a whole thirty minutes of sleep (I slept out of pure exhaustion, not comfort) hoping it was all a hellish nightmare. It wasn't. As the horrors resurfaced I became violent nauseous. In the bathroom I looked up from wiping my face and looked in the mirror. There was a reflection, but it wasn't mine. It was a ghost, a worn broken ghostly reflection with a black abyss where her heart should have been. There was a dark terror and confusion in her eyes. I splashed some water on the ghost's face. Then I really woke up. I woke up to the real nightmare that was my new life.
I heard Mom tell my sisters they were not going to school. Chyna, only nine at the time, was already crying. I had to get out of that house; I wasn't ready to be strong for them. I beg Mom to let me go to school. She was too tired to argue.
At school I told my friends what happened. They wanted to skip class but I said not to worry, that is was my problem not theirs. I am surprised how long I lasted. I sat and stared at the wall in math and science. I through up twice during Art and in French when Madame Laurie told me to perk up I looked her dead in the eye and said "excuse moi, Madame! But my brother killed himself last night! I'm only here so I don't give in and do the same! So please forgive me if I'm a little low on perk au jourd hui (today)! Then I laughed manically in her face!
Looking back I think that is when it kicked in for me, the whole situation and I just didn't know what to do with it all. That was Monday.
That night was the first night I started cutting. Shaun was a cutter too. I remember thinking how alive the blade slicing apart the layer of my skin made me feel. The stinging the throbbing the pounding of my heart! I lost track of the number of gouges on my arm, I just kept hacking. The pain was the only control I felt i had left. I blacked out; who knows for how long. When I resurfaced there were dried rivers of blood on my arm and bed sheets. All I could smell was blood, I became nauseous again. Them I looked at my arm in the mirror and smiled; a sick, twisted smile. The ghost was back. For weeks id watch the back yard hoping Shaun would come over and fire up the barbeque and make his famous steak. Oddly enough that is one thing I missed most about him, how much he enjoyed dong the steak! I didn't eat steak or beef for the next two years after he died.
Wednesday was Shaun's viewing, where you pay respects to the deceased. There were two weird old men waiting at the door. One tall and skinny the other short and pudgy –they were something out of an old comic book. The tall one offered his condolences (what's that I thought) and pudgy said in his rehearsed voice how sorry he was for my loss., and he was sure Shaun lived a good life. I could have snapped his neck! How dare he talk about Shaun like he knew him! "…had a good life"!?, are you stupid? What the hell!? He barely got started!!! Shaun wasn't just a loss like some left shoe; he was my best friend! Oh but that doesn't matter because you're SORRY! Sorrrryyyyy! Well that won't bring him back now will it?! That's what I wanted to scream in their awkward little faces. But Shaun was right in the next room, dead or alive, he deserved better. Thankfully my other brother Steven stopped me in time. Redirecting me to pictures of Shaun we had set up. He was so genuinely happy as a child. Made me wonder what happened along the way.
Maybe a monster was always in him; getting bigger each year Shaun did. I started blaming myself …"I should have known, there were signs weren't there! Of course there were how could I have missed them! I should have been a better sister. Maybe then he would have stayed…"
Steven was standing by the pictures now. Just standing and staring with silent sobs streaming down his face. He's normally such a strong and silent type. Watching him cry was extremely awkward. All I could do was cry right along with him. People started arriving. On after the other like somber elephants. All as sorry as the next.
By now I just wanted to run and hide. I was about to brake; my throat stung from holding back tears. "Are you ready sweat pea", Mom asked. (she always calls me sweat pea when I'm having a hard day. Must be a Mom thing, but it always helps). I took a deep shaky breath. It was my turn to see Shaun. I entered a small dim room; that smelled of death and formaldehyde. Shaun was on a table covered in outdated silk and lace. His casket was a dark smooth wood, in a way it looked like it was made for him. When I saw him my heart dropped. My knees gave out! And I collapsed in my dad's arm. That was the very first time I let him hold me with out me pushing him away. I just shook and shook and cried and then he cried too, and our tears flooded the room. I'd never seen my dad cry like this. My parents reluctantly left the room as I stood over Shaun. He was so peaceful now. I was almost jealous. I was definitely furious. And I told him too. "Please Shaun. Wake up, WAKE UP! This isn't funny. PLEASE WAKE UP SHAUN SHAUNNNNN. COME BACK! I need you! You're all I got YOU CANT LEAVE. God damn it Shaun why won't wake up. I was shouting by now, my parents were banging on the door. My shirt was drenched with tears.
What happened next hasn't left my mind since that very instant. I placed a kiss on my brother's cheek. He was colder than ice. I will NEVER forget that piercing sensation until the day I die. It shattered what was left of my heart. I stopped breathing, I didn't want to remember how. I wanted time to stop. The abyss where my heart should have been engulfed the room, and I blacked out. I was out cold. And Shaun was as dead as ice.
I never did go back to old Kiana. I still see that ghost in the mirror most of the time.
I wonder if Shaun knows he took more than one life on Sunday the fourteenth?
All I can do now is hope he is in a better place then me.