The gasp, the gripping of my arm, she fell onto nothing other than one of the rifle cases sitting in the hallway. The sobbing, the screaming. "It's not supposed to happen this way!" "I am supposed to go first!" These are the sounds and the images that I see and hear on a consistent basis. These are not fading. None of it is. I have to take control. I must make the call. Call now, my brain keeps telling me, but my fingers can't seem to dial. Finally, I dial. I tell him "I need help, my brother shot himself in the head! Please, help me. my mother, she can't breathe!"
"Alright, we're sending someone now. What's the address?" Amazingly, even though I had never been there before, I was able to tell him the address. He asked me "Where did he shoot himself?" I know I had already told him that. I told him again. "Is he breathing?", he asked me. I told him no. "Can you make sure?", he asked. I begged him, Please, don't make me look again!" My brothers phone is ringing. It's my husband. "I have to answer this" I manage to tell him. "Keep me on this line with you, I'm going to stay with you until they get there" he said. He listens, I suppose as i tell me husband what has happened. Poor guy, all I could get out was "He is dead, I need you!" He doesn't tell me to calm down, he doesn't get hysterical, he simply tells me "I love you, and I am on my way, but I need to hang up so I can drive." We hang up. I apologize to the 911 operator. He tells me it's ok, they are almost there. My mother calls my Dad. He doesn't understand what's going on. She yells at him "He's dead!" and hangs up, barely able to breathe. I hear the sirens. They don't knock. Two officers come bursting through the door. "Are you hurt?" one asks me. "No, but he's dead!" He puts his arm around my shoulder and leads me to the couch. "No, no, no, I need to get out. I want out!" I tell him. "Ok, lets get you out of here, we'll get you some air", he says. "Wait! I need to get my mom - she can't , she just can't walk. I need you to help me get her out. She needs to get out of here. I want her checked by the EMT's. Please, make them check her. She has an anxiety disorder and high blood pressure!" I plead with him. He actually grabbed me tighter, and told me we would be ok. "You can do this - for her" he told me.
I had no choice. I had to do this. So, I got her checked. She was in shock already. She kept saying over and over again "She's pregnant, she's pregnant". So, I had to be checked too. My husband arrived. I don't want to know how many traffic laws he broke in his 10 bay truck to do it, but he was there in five minutes. He literally carried my mom & I off the ambulance.
(Now, it has taken a lot of space to document all of that, but honestly, that was only about 10 minutes of the day.)
I am in charge. I will remain composed. I can not cry. I can not get hysterical. I call my Dad. "Where are you?" I ask him. "I'm headed toward his apartment, but I don't really know where it is." he says with an almost monotone in his voice. I give him the detailed directions. "Is someone driving you? I ask. "No, I will be careful. I love you." he said. I love you too. Be safe." We hang up. The officer that helped us outside is talking to my husband. The other is inside. I guess one has to stay inside with my brother until the rest of the entourage shows up. We've managed to get my mom to sit. She's sitting in my car. We realize that she is missing a lens from her glasses. (Seems insignificant, but this is EVERYTHING I remember.) The officer goes in and gets it for her. We put it back in. I leave my husband to hold her. I am in control. I need to get this out on the prayer line NOW. I need to talk, I need to stay in control. I go down my list. I realize later that this is probably not what I should have done. This is not a call you should make to people who are at work, or home alone with their kids without someone there for them. That much control I did not have. I just needed to reach out. And, you all were incredible. (E & M - thank you for praying with me.) My Dad arrives. I grabbed him tight as he got out of his car. I brought him to my Mom. Hubby and I went to his car, got his phone, and called his best friend. He came. He was there for us and stayed for the hours and hours we waited.
I had one last phone call I needed to make. We couldn't get a hold of his roommate. So, I called my brothers best friends house. Spoke to Mrs. B. She said that C (our childhood friend, and one of my brothers best friends) had only left there at 9:00 am. They were hysterical. I was in control. I needed to keep control. My mom had to speak to the detective. He was a very warm and understanding man. I am thankful for that. The coroners came. They brought him out. Zipped in the black bag. My parents hugged him. I just could not go near him. I needed the control. I'd lose control. I did not want to get that close. The detectives kept bringing things out of the apartment in long cardboard boxes. "What are they doing?", I asked the officer who stayed close by us. "They have to take all the guns right now for evidence", he said. When I looked into his eyes, I saw that he was actually hurting for us, and so I stopped mid sentence. I was going to tell him that it was dumb to do that since the one he used was in his lap.
After what I believe was close to four hours, the detectives gathered the five of us - My parents, My husband & I and my uncle. "Again, I can't tell you all how sorry I am to have to have met you today. You should all go now, go and be together. We are done here, we won't touch any more of his things." He turned to my mother and said "Go home, and hold tight to your husband, and these two kids. You will all get through this."
I wanted to scream at him - "How? How do we get through this?" But I needed to keep control. I had to get my Mom home, I had to keep my dad in my mirror, and my husband in front of me. Just get them home...