Yesterday was the day one of my brothers died. Although his official date of death is tomorrow, May 28th, it was the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend in 2006. He was only 30 years old. His name was Charlie and most people called him Charlie Brown, among other nicknames he acquired during his life. In remembering my brother, I knew I had written something about him for the funeral. Although I didn't read it aloud because my throat closed and I couldn't speak, I knew I had something to share with those who came to the funeral. I found it and want to post this very personal piece on my blog in the hopes it may help others. Yes it's sad, yes it's profound, and yes it touches on drug use. Just as I helped carry my dad's casket to the grave, I helped carry my brother's too. I know, women aren't supposed to do that, but he was my brother and I felt it was only right! Read it if you want... P.S. Charlie is the one in the overalls!
My Brother Charlie
Thank you all for coming. Each of us deals with grief in our own way. For some, they hold it in and don’t talk about it. Others prefer to be alone with their thoughts, while others feel better by talking and being around people who have the same feelings. For me, it’s a mixture. Sometimes I keep stuff bottled up, sometimes I want to talk, and other times I just want to be around people. Today is very hard on all of us. Hard in different ways. So, thank you for listening, thank you for talking, and thank you for just being around us today.
Charlie was known by many people and was called many things: daddy, son, friend, uncle, cousin, nephew, and grandson, but to me he was a brother. Even though he was the meanest brother, he was still my brother. For those who have brothers, you know at times, they can be a royal pain in the butt. But, siblings have a special bond that is hard to explain. This is why I feel compelled to say something on the day we bury our brother.
We do not know what happened to Charlie. We won’t know for a few months. We can speculate it was drugs, or we can hope it was a medical condition. I won’t stand here and say my brother was a saint, because he wasn’t. He was however, baptized as a child and knew Jesus, so I have no doubt that I will see Charlie again. With Charlie, he was either your best friend or your worst enemy. He had a temper like dynamite and a heart like a marshmallow. If you didn’t know Charlie, he looked very intimidating. Some of you here know many things and can share many stories about Charlie. Stories that are probably not very good because he had a reputation for getting into mischief, even as a child. Of all of us, he got the most whippings.
Yet as we come together today to support one another, we hope that Charlie did not die in vain. We have always been taught that everything happens for a reason, and if the cause of his death is not a medical condition, if the cause of his death is drugs or is drug related, then some in this room need to pay attention because you are on the same path.
If Charlie’s death is drug related please don’t put your friends and family through this. Drugs not only destroy families, but they destroy your former self by taking your personality away and replacing it with a stranger’s personality. Drug addicts lie, cheat, and steal straight to your face. They place blame on others, they come up with the most off-the-wall excuses and stories. Drugs turn people from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, right under our nose and we, the family and friends, say nothing. We “feel sorry for them,” we “hope they straighten up,” we “wish they could just do right,” we justify it by saying, “that kid sure has had a hard life.” We are afraid to say anything. Prescription or non prescription, it doesn’t matter, a drug addict is a drug addict. Children suffer, spouses suffer, parents suffer, friends suffer, and siblings suffer.
I hope that Charlie had a medical condition, but if he did not, I hope his death serves as a wake up call for some. I loved my brother, I always will and I will miss him. Thank you for listening.