Note: This post mentions suicide – I don’t know the proper protocol for this… but I believe I’m supposed to warn of topics of this nature so readers can stop now should they so choose.


When I was 15 years old, my 16-year-old cousin shot himself in his parents’ basement. Was it intentional or accidental? We will never know. He left no trace of explanation behind. No note.

I have mixed feelings about guns. Well, maybe not so mixed. (Please, this is my opinion. I don’t want a debate.) How can I not wonder what would have been if my cousin had no access to a gun? [It was his father’s… for hunting.] And why the fuck wasn’t it locked up? If it was an accident, he might still be here. If it wasn’t an accident, he might still be here. If he was determined to take his own life, he might have found another way. Or maybe he wouldn’t have.

When he died, his closest-in-age brother was 15, just like me. B found his brother. I have never been able to fathom the impact that moment had on B. I cannot imagine I ever would have recovered. Yet he did. But when he was 19, B was killed in a car accident. When I say car accident, I mean to say, we assume it was an accident. Could it have been intentional? We will never know.

These events happened a long time ago. I don’t think I’ll ever use the words “over it” but when I think of it now, it’s more of a reflection… my tendency to overthink everything – past, present and future. And when I feel my worst, I wonder if it’s how they felt – either of them – because I have never considered myself a strong person…yet I am still here… and they are not.

PLEASE – If you ever feel low enough to leave this world, tell someone. Anyone. Please.

divider dots.

These two brothers had a third. J is one year younger than B and I. He is one of the most incredibly well-adjusted people I’ve ever met in my life. He amazes me. I don’t know how he does it. God, he lost a brother when he was 14… and another when he was 18. I’m not sure how you live with that… but he has.

About three years ago, J was diagnosed with brain cancer. He has had multiple surgeries… the most recent of which was two weeks ago. They removed what they could, but they couldn’t get it all. It is aggressive… it keeps coming back… spreading. And there is nothing more they can do for him. He may have days or weeks or… maybe months… but as far as I know ‘months’ is unlikely.

I saw him yesterday at Thanksgiving at my mom’s. He looked great! Handsome and smiley as ever. If I didn’t know what was going on, I’d never guess that he was anything but healthy. And he looked happy. I don’t know how he does it. He is amazing. And sweet and kind and generous. With hugs hello and hugs goodbye, I kept it together. But when he and his girlfriend left, I kind of lost it. I think it was the words he spoke when he hugged me goodbye…

“See you at Christmas, hopefully…”

divider dots.

©2016 what sandra thinks

About what sandra thinks

Sandra is a writer, sometimes blogger, poet, artist, emotional disaster. She thinks far too much and sleeps far too little. Sandra lives in the Northeastern U.S. but dreams of an oceanfront home in Italy, but she would settle for a non-oceanfront home in Italy. She loves books, brutal honesty, coffee, and the color black. She hates insincerity, beer, whipped cream, and facebook. And she is uncomfortable talking about herself in the third person.
This entry was posted in family, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to …hopefully.

  1. I read this through tears. Some families have so many tragedies and this hit home. We had a series of sudden tragic deaths (grandfather, uncle, two sisters and a brother in that order – within months of each other), and I know how it impacted our family and how we react to certain things. The good that came of it is we are tight–we have each other’s backs and together we make it through. My prayers to your family and my heart to your cousin’s parents, you, and the rest of the family. Sometimes, it’s just too much. Dawn

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your thoughts. I can see the sadness in my uncle’s eyes… and his confusion over why this happened to him… to his boys. (The boys’ mom passed away a while back — she was no longer married to my uncle… he remarried years ago.) It is heartbreaking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Meg Sorick says:

    Oh my… this makes my heart squeeze in my chest. How much can one family bear…? I can’t even think of the right thing to say. Just love to you all…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. VictoryInTrouble says:

    Wow, this brought tears to my eyes. That is surely too much tragedy for one family. You all will be in my thoughts. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Vic. ♥ It’s a difficult time of year anyway because on the “big” holidays, we tend to miss the people we’ve lost the most… my Dad, my Gram… and the boys. And now the situation with J. This isn’t the whole reason, but it’s a huge part of why I hate Christmas.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Aw man. 💕 💕 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, my heart is breaking for you and your family! No one family should have to go through so much… wishing you strength and peace and fervent prayers that you get to see your cousin again ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  6. memeethemuse says:

    I have written at least 5 posts and had permission to reblog one on suicide. I always try to include the suicide hotline phone number in my post. You know, in case some who searched the tag comes across my blog because they are considering acting upon their own impulses in that direction.

    1-800-273-TALK is the National Suicide Prevention hotline for America. It is anonymous and operates 24/7, 365.

    Earlier this month I attended a Suicide Awareness walk taking place in my community. Attendees wore beads representing their connection to it, whether they were just their to support or whether they had lost a child, a parent, a sibling, a family member, a friend, or had attempted suicide themselves. I wore 4 strings of beads. One for a family member, and two for friends that were so close they were like family, and one for my own repeated attempts.

    The walk is called Out of the Darkness and helps raise funds for community outreach programs teaching about suicide. I won’t lie, it was difficult to be there. It was emotional. However, it also felt empowering to know that we were trying to do something to aid public awareness about the epidemic and to see that we did not suffer these tragedies alone.

    Thank you for sharing the story of your cousins. My heart goes out to their family. I cannot imagine being the parent of those 3 boys. Prayers of strength to all of your family now facing the truth that once again you will lose someone you love tragically and too soon. My heart goes out to you.

    ☀ Memee

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lennon Carlyle says:

    My heart breaks for him and all of you. Tears in my eyes reading his last words to you as he hugged you bye. My hubby had cancer three years ago. He survived and I’m ever so grateful for him. Your cousin has been through my heartbreak than most of us in a lifetime but yet he’s smiling. God…..to have his heart. Your post touched me to say the least. XO

    Liked by 1 person

    • I felt a little bad posting this… I knew it would bring tears. It totally did while I wrote it, of course… But I guess I needed to tell someone not right in the middle of it all. I have no idea how my cousin is still so together. I really don’t. I wish I could do something to save him… donate an organ… whatever. He deserves so much better than this. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kay says:

    My heart aches for you all, especially the father. But wow! Your cousin sounds like an amazing person.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. magarisa says:

    My heart goes out to your uncle and cousin. ❤💕

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Miriam says:

    I’m not surprised you lost it Sandra. So much sadness and heartache in one family. I know a woman, a good family friend, who lost both her sons in a car accident and then later her husband yet she’s the most resilient person I’ve met. I don’t know how she does it. Some people just go through so much and their strength is amazing . I can’t imagine the life he’s living and what his family are going through. Love and hugs to you xo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. mandibelle16 says:

    I’m sorry Sandra those events are very difficult to have happen to one family, especially your cousins. People when they or if they do, they aren’t thinking logically or as they should. Their minds are so depressed or lost. We have friends of the family who experienced a similar thing with their daughter (although she was much older) and her brother was the first to see her after.

    Having everything else go on in your cousins family is unbelievable. But you’re cousin (the 3rd brother) as you said seems well adjusted. Cancer is an awful epidemic. I wish we could always beat it, but we can’t. Maybe he just wants to live out his life as happily and as best as he can. Having dealt with death twice, early on, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s more prepared.

    I’m sorry for you and will pray for your cousin and family. It’s difficult stuff to deal with and I hope you remain focused on helping yourself. Don’t let the sadness get you down. You care of course, just don’t dwell on the sadness. And pray, putting it in God’s hands — like literally picture it as you pray it, is a whole lot easier. It gives you that needed strength in life. It does for me, so I hope for you and your cousin, it does as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mandi. I’ve never talked about faith with my cousin… not directly. But he may find peace there. For me, well, to be honest, that’s not something I believe in.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mandibelle16 says:

        There is no harm in prayer. If you pray and there’s nothing there, there’s nothing there. No one but you knows you prayed. But if their is a possibility there is, then there is always hope. No pressure or force, I understand what you believe.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I had mixed feelings about starring this. Not because it wasn’t written well. Of course it was as eloquent as ever but because you always (well I do) feel odd starring someone else’s pain. It is an incredible story. Such pain, such grief but with your cousin J the brightest star within that very dark sky. It would have broken my heart if I had been on the receiving end of his goodbye. And people such as he are the reason I sometimes have a hard time having faith because we need more people like him in the world. People like him make it a much brighter, kinder place. Thank you for sharing as always Sandra. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Aks Thariani says:

    This was so saddening… Good bless the pure soul

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: goodbye joey. | what sandra thinks

thoughts? talk to me.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.