Tiktok bans many of my Brandon videos because he never wore a shirt. This was after Halloween I think, I had found a million Hershey’s kiss wrappers hidden in Codi’s room and later that night for some reason Brandon decided to rat himself out for also hiding candy. I love this video because it shows many of his facial features and his smile. He would have been about 10 years old here.
I used to be a mommy blogger. For a moment I was funny. Sometimes I was serious, or angry, or silly, or whatever, but one thing was certain, my boys were my life and I was a damn good mom.
Then one day I got into a small argument with my oldest son, the first one in three months, and ten hours later he committed suicide. While logically I know he took his life over his broken heart (only the girl got a letter), illogically I always think:
If only I hadn’t gone to his room the night before to get graph paper. Then I wouldn’t have seen the six pudding cups and king size Kit Kat in his trash. I wouldn’t have asked him in the morning a million times if he was okay, why where there six pudding cups he was allergic to and one spoon, where did he get the KitKat, why was he still lying to me to protect his grandpa from his grandpa. Why didn’t he just tell me what he bought the first time. Why was he eating allergy foods when we just spent so much money and pain (his) to clear up his acne? If I had been a better me I would have noticed he wasn’t arguing with me for the 20+ minutes I lectured him, instead just saying calmly, “okay”, “okay”, “okay.” My child who would argue over the color of the sky wasn’t arguing and I was too far into my own bullshit to notice that.
I go round and round and round every single day wondering if I had never gotten graph paper would Brandon be alive? Would he have sent me the emoji like always, asking for help? Did he feel like his only safe person in the world had abandoned him? Was being so caught up in the biology lab I attended that day and not writing to tell him “I’m sorry, pudding doesn’t matter, nothing is as important as you,” like I had been doing for months, the reason he finally felt totally abandoned and left?
Everyone tells me I can’t think that way. They say that we know he died over a broken heart, we know he suffered from depression, etc. But WE (me) knows that the person he trusted the most (ME) let him down that day. While I gleefully took a photo of my Yukon parked crooked and up on the curb at 3:17pm my son was fixing his hair and writing a goodbye letter to the girl he loved.
While I drove the 2 miles down Mount Rose Highway to the intersection at Geiger Grade hungry and thinking I should go home for a snack, he was walking down the stairs to my home office.
While I thought to myself that more than likely I would get in trouble for taking the rest of the day off, and hear for weeks on end about how I had the privilege of going home early, or going to school, and how someone LET ME go home, and I didn’t respect that, etc. Hearing about how hard someone worked to pay my salary yet I was at home snacking wasn’t what I wanted that day. I had already gotten a long enough lecture about the day ten days prior when I took Brandon to the orthodontist and we ended up talking in the driveway for 2 hours after, making me late back to work, that I didn’t want to endure another one. I told myself that I had forgotten my lunch box at work anyway and I should just go back and get it so I could wash my meal prep containers that night, and finish my work to avoid hearing about how much some was over worked to pay for me.
So much of my life has been lectures about how I ruin everything I touch. That’s a direct quote someone has said to me before, but it’s also the implication I got almost daily, that it was essentially my fault if the world was burning down. If someone stabbed themselves in the hand they would find a way to blame me for sharpening the knife the day before. So while I was agonizing about my grumbling stomach at that stop light, and the inevitable lecture I would get, my son was deciding to die.
When I proceeded through the light and turned left, instead of going straight which would have had me home less than three minutes later, my son was inside of my office with the safe already opened.
When I unlocked my office door to go back to work for 2.5 more hours my son was texting the girl he loved, “hey,” at 3:33. While he counted down 11 minutes waiting for her reply I got busy finishing my work. At 3:40 when his brother came out of his room with the TV blasting to get tissue due to a bloody nose, and then went back into his room slamming the door, there is no way Brandon didn’t hear it, because he only had one AirPod in and was directly below his brothers room. It didn’t matter though, that he realized his brother was home after all, and not at a friends house, he had already decided.
At 3:46 he opened his notes app, copied the letter he wrote the girl, switched to text, pasted the letter into her text, pushed send and was gone.
The only 3-5 seconds of that day my home cameras do not capture, indoor and out, are the seconds it would take to hear a gunshot. I can see every moment of the day after he gets home until he goes into my office, the ONLY blind spot in the house, and the home of the 5’ tall impenetrable safe. I can hear everything, even him saying goodbye to the dog, closing the door, and opening the safe immediately once inside. I can hear every moment but the moment he leaves. It’s because of this that my head often things he will be coming home soon, that it can’t be real, that he’s not gone. When I begin to think this way I pull up the photos from the Sherriffs of my son laying dead in my office, to remind my own head that he is GONE, REALLY REALLY GONE.
I startle when I hear anything similar to a gunshot now. Which is weird because I didn’t hear it that day, but I guess I can imagine it after enough years of going out in the hills to shoot guns. Plus seeing the state of my office after he pulled the trigger, it’s like I hear the gunshot on repeat. I hear a gunshot over and over and over, except I’m hearing something that I never actually heard.
So how does one go on mommy blogging after that? Codi tells the story of the day that he was napping and didn’t know Brandon was gone. He doesn’t yet know I saw him come out of his room. I’ve told him that when he’s ready to talk about it, I’m here for him and nothing he says will surprise me or upset me, and that’s true. I’m wise enough to know that what I saw, Codi couldn’t have stopped or changed had he called me, or his dad, or anyone. Brandon was gone instantly. No pain felt, it was instant. But Codi was 12 at the time and he never saw what I saw because I sent him outside (and then let my precious baby Brandon alone to go be with Codi, never getting to see Brandon again or say goodbye). He doesn’t know that he couldn’t have saved his brother, so for now at his age it’s easier to believe he was asleep and not worry that he might have changed things by calling someone. I hate knowing that while he says he doesn’t know how Brandon died, and he doesn’t want to, that he does actually know but somewhere in his beautifully smart mind probably believes he is at fault & will be blamed. My sweet Codi Bug has no clue that I could never for a moment blame him, and that all I do is ache for what he must have felt in the moment he heard the sound.
The harder part is knowing that daily a stupid little modified car drove down the street behind our house with a shitty exhaust that backfired so loud it sounded like a gun. It sounded so much like a gun that one day it happened while Rob & I were home and we both went to get our own gun, assuming someone had shot at someone else behind our house. The boys cracked up, laughing so loud and then looking at us so seriously and saying, “don’t you guys know that happens every day? It’s the same car every day that drives by and backfires.” Followed by more loud laughter and HA HA’S at how silly Rob & I were for mistaking a stupid car for a gunshot. Later I realized the time Brandon died is the same time that car used to drive by daily and poor Codi bug probably thought the noise he heard was the stupid car.
It wasn’t until I told the boys I was headed home and to turn off games that Codi told me Brandon wasn’t home yet. Having a driveway camera I knew Brandon was home. After Codi checked Brandons room I lied to him and said Brandon was at friends house because I knew in that moment Brandon was gone, and I couldn’t risk Codi finding him. I imagine the 8 minutes it took me to drive home that Codi’s head just spun in circles wondering “what if.”
I imagine when I ran into the house opening doors and then Codi heard me scream a scream that made seasoned officers quit their job, that Codi put it all together in that instant. He told me later that he was okay and didn’t think about that day, except for my scream, sometimes he couldn’t stop hearing me scream.
The one thing I know to be true is that at 12 years old when someone commits suicide (I was 12 when my birth dad committed suicide), you don’t want to acknowledge it. You want life to be normal. You don’t want to be the strange kid, the sad kid, the kid with a dead family member. So you put on your brave face and smile for the world. I also know that at age 14 your hormones change and you process that loss all over again differently, and it’s fucking hard.
And as much as I want to stop waking up every single day I also know I have to wake up every single day to be there for Codi when he falls apart about Brandon. When he finally says his name after 20+ months and finally admits what he heard and finally says he thinks its his fault. I know I have to be here to tell him it was NEVER his fault & he NEVER could have stopped it. He has to know right away for his future that none of this falls on him. I will live in this life that has turned on me so hard since Brandon died for a million years to be there when Codi falls apart, just so I can be sure he knows I love him, it’s not his fault, Brandon loved him, and he didn’t do anything wrong that day.
It’s hard to write a mommy blog after you’ve lost your soul mate because people get on you about calling one child my soul mate and not the other, but Brandon was. He was like my twin, he was the first person on this planet to understand me, and I understood him. Codi and Rob are so normal, so studious, into group sports, and tidy that they could never understand the chaos that was Brandon and I. Even when Brandon and I argued people would say “why can you fight with him and not me?” And I would say, ‘because it’s different for us, we fight different. We end up not the kitchen floor crying, hugging each other, arguing over who loved who more.
The world doesn’t understand that I love both of my boys, but I feel like I lost my twin, and no matter which boy I lost I would still be sitting here feeling like half of my DNA and my life is gone and I would Fucking hate it just as much.
All I know is I want out every second of every day but Codi will never feel like I did as a child thinking I wasn’t enough to keep my dad alive. He’s only ever going to know he was absolutely enough for me to live. He is that important to this world.