Thursday, July 17, 2008

Chris' life according to me

The way I remembered it, when Chris was about 18, his life took a different path. He became involved with substance abuse. My first 2 sons, Brock and Logan, adored their Uncle Chris. However, once Chris turned to drugs and alcohol, the fiercely protective mother that I was, began to withdraw my sons from him. The real Chris became hidden. The substance took over. I no longer trusted him. Brock and Logan were about 6 and 8 by this time and I no longer wanted Chris influencing them. Chris without the drugs, yes...but not Chris with the drugs. This is who he became to us.

I regret that I did not know Chris in his adult life. Do I feel guilty about this? Yes. Do I wish I could go back and change things? I do...especially this week.

I didn't want him influencing my very impressionable boys. They looked up to him. So I pulled them away. We became outsiders to his life, barely looking in.

Chris loved children and I know he looked forward to having his own someday. That never happened. He was so controlled all of his adult life by drugs and alcohol.

There is a paragraph that I quoted in a recent post on this blog from CS Lewis, "You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk..."

I believe that Chris could not "see" what he was doing. The past over 20 years of his life he was so very controlled by the substance. He lost the power he was born with to control his life. What started out as his agency to choose, became his bondage.

In his suicide letter he left on email to a select few people, one of them being our father, he stated, "...If I had a wife, children, or somebody that greatly depended on me, I would never consider this. And if my mother were still alive, I don't think I could do this..."

He felt no one needed him. His wife left him, he did not have children, and his mother was dead.

On one occasion after his wife Jenny left him, Chris and I had a lengthy talk one evening over the phone. The extreme depression he felt was evident. He admitted to me that his marriage had no way to survive because, in his words, "We didn't have religion to keep us together. We didn't have children. We had nothing to bind us. She had no reason to stay." I remember thinking at the time...'he built his home on sand.'

He had no hope because he had lost control. After years and years of being controlled by an outside substance, he gave up.

I've always loved my little brother, and I always will. I was 13 when he was born so I have many fond memories of him as a baby and a little boy. He was very adored by all of us. He was and is my parents' baby. If they were guilty of anything, it was indulging him. What parent doesn't?

One particular incidence stands out in my mind. Basically this is how I remember it. Chris was young, somewhere in elementary school age. My mom had him with her when she was banking one day. On their way home Mom realized she was given too much money by the teller. She told Chris this and explained how they needed to go back to the bank and return the money. Chris obviously remembered the good feeling in doing this, because on another later errand occasion with our Mom, he said, "I hope they give us too much money at the bank so we can take it back to them again."

Chris was raised with goodness. He knew what goodness was. And somewhere in the adult Chris, the goodness was still there. He had a hand written note in the pocket of his pants when he died. It stated, "...You have my permission to make use of my organs for somebody in need..."


Lisa said...

It amazes me that you are so open with your thoughts. However, it enables those of us who care so much you and your family - understand where you are emotionally. I think in times like this your ability to connect honestly invites the process of healing sooner than later. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

grandmapeg said...

This is an honest way to explain how your brother came to this point in his life, despite being raised in a good family. From what he said, he really did realize that we need important things like religion and children to help bind us as spouses. As always, you posted a nice, sweet tribute. You have a great heart!

Paul said...

I wanted to let you know that in 1991 (when I was living with him) Chris told me he had stopped using any drugs. I know alcohol use continued, but I really feel from my relationship with him that Chris was much deeper than the substances. I can distinctly remember a conversation in 1987 where he opened up and, crying, poured his heart out to me. Chris was a complex person and I feel that the alcohol and substance use were just temporary reliefs for a very sensitive, feeling person. I miss him so very much and I know for a fact that his family was very important to him.

Amy Nielson said...

I'm so sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing your thoughts. It makes me ponder about my own family.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Jill,

You have such a talent. Thank you so much for your thoughts on Chris. Because I didn't know him these insights are especially dear. Lauren Boyer said he remembers Chris in Elders Quorum in the Student Ward and what a happy and fun guy he was. Great sense of humor--very enjoyable to know.

We have received such an outpouring of love, support and service from our ward that it makes me know how valuable the blessing is of belonging to the church and a ward family.

I ache for Chris in that he didn't avail himself of this kind of support system.

Thank you again for your candid thoughts, Jill. You are part of a wonderful family that I'm so blessed to also be a part of now. Thanks for sharing.

Love, Susan

Anonymous said...

Jill, You are a wonderful sister and I am glad Chris had you in his life. My heart aches for him and the pain he carried with him. I wish there was something someone could have done to help him. I hope he will find some peace in the next life and will be able to be with your mom. You guys are anawesome family and I am glad Chris was a part of that.

The Gage Cage said...

It has been a while (family in town) since I've had time to sit a read my favorite blogs. I am so sorry! This is the kind of experience I wish every teen knew about. I hope you and your family, esp your father will be able to overcome the very bitter part of the pain as quick as possible. I hope Chris's heart heals on the other side and he can establish some form of progression. He was lucky to be in a great family. Take care!!

amyburb said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother Jill. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and love for him.

Bren's Life said...

Oh Jill. I just saw your comment on my sister in law Kathy's blog so I came over to see your blog. I am So Truly sorry about your brother. I do not even understand the hurt & sorrow you must feel at losing your brother this way. Please know he is ok. I don't know if your ward is on the same lesson plan as us. But look at Chapter 14 in Teachings of Presidents of the Church Joseph Smith. I hope you feel peace. You where just doing what any mother would do to protect her children. I have the same family problems on my husbands side. They have never seen my 2 youngest.
My prayers are with you...