This is too intense. I can’t handle this.
I was feeling extreme existential dread and paranoia. I looked at my brother and I could tell from the look in his eyes that he was even deeper into that feeling.
Two weeks ago I convinced Rory to do this. He hesitantly agreed, knowing this would be uncomfortable and difficult. When I confronted him and said, “We are going to do this.” We did not entirely know what “this” was, but we understood that it was not without risks.
It was worth the risk. Rory had been dead to me for the past 5+ years. He was not the brother I grew up with. He was withdrawn, disconnected, an actively sabotaged any attempts to mend our relationship. He was trying desperately to show me that I was better off without him. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I was.
I knew deep down he just wanted the best for me. I just needed him to realize that the best thing for me was to have my brother by my side.
As I looked into my brother's eyes I saw the pain and fear looking back. I was terrified that I had made a grave mistake. Maybe I had pushed him into confronting something that he was not ready too yet. On a deep emotional level, he was processing the idea that the best way to help me and our family was through death. To be a martyr. As his best friend before him was.
Rory told us he had drugs coming to the house the next morning. He was scared of what would happen if he got a hold of them. We agreed that I would intercept the package and prevent him from using it. That was the plan. I would wake up before him and get the package.
The next morning I woke to the sound of my mom’s voice from down the hall.
I knew what had happened.
I jumped out of bed and ran into his room to see his lifeless, colorless body. I had never seen a body like that before. I was sure he was dead.
I killed him. I killed my brother.
A paced his room feeling what I had done.
For a split second, I experienced what life was like without him, an empty life.
Overwhelmed with the immensity of the moment, everything seemed to stop. I walked over to him, sat beside him, grabbed his lifeless hand, and looked into the whites of his eyes.
I said “come back. I need you.”
A little flush of color returned to his face and I knew he was with me.
As he came back, I saw his eyes change from a state of lifelessness to paralysis. I could see he was terrified, like a little kid waking up from his first nightmare. As he began to realize what had happened he was wrought with agony. Rocking back and forth in his bed sobbing, he repeated “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” over and over again. We sat with him in his bed, mom, dad, and I, all of us relieved that we got this chance to be together again.
As the Narcan starved his brain of opiates he began to suffer immediate chemical-induced withdrawals. I’ve never seen anyone in such pain. He begged for more heroin to ease the pain. But we refused as we sat with him.
He was using again later that day.
Later that day
I knew he was high, but a part of me couldn’t believe it. How could anyone possibly do that? Nearly kill themself, then go right back to the thing that was killing them. I didn’t want to talk to him. I didn’t want to allow him to express himself under the influence, I wanted him to feel the anxiety, the fear, and the pain that we were both experiencing. But I feared that I wouldn’t have this chance to talk with him for much longer. I sat with him and for the first time in my life I heard him say; “I think I should go to rehab.”
We called rehabs together. The earliest he could get in was in three days.
That’s too late. I thought. He will be dead by then.
The next three days were probably the hardest days of my life. After he agreed to rehab, he allowed me to take the drugs, but he told me not to get rid of them, just hold on to them.
Every night Rory begged me for the drugs, and every night I had to talk to him, beg him not too. On the final night, he was convinced he would use “one last time.” We sat in the kitchen as he pleaded his case,
“I need to feel it one last time before going to rehab…”
Our Mom would hear none of it, she was getting upset. Rightfully so, she just witnessed her son come back from beyond.
I wanted so badly to trust my brother. I thought maybe he was right, he just needed to get this last experience out of him, show himself that it wouldn’t get him what he wanted. As I entertained the idea, our Mom left, upset that I was even hearing this. Our dad followed shortly after. Both thinking I was making the worst mistake of my life. I was worried I was as well. But I didn’t know what else to do. He said if I don’t give him the drugs he will go out and find some himself.
I told my brother “if you’re going to use, I am going to watch, and you’re going to see the effect that it has on me. You’re going to watch my heart break.”
he said “Ok”
With tears in my eyes I said “I’ll go get it.”
As I stood up I heard Rory mutter a word, I don’t even remember what was said. I was in shock.
Rory responded “nevermind”
“You aren’t going to use tonight?”
In that moment I felt relief like I have never felt. I knew right then, even though he was just starting his journey into recovery, that he was strong enough to do this, that he cared enough, that he cared about me. We hugged and it felt incredible. He said he was going to go to bed. And I told him he should tell Mom and Dad first. He was ambivalent, but he said he would. When he saw our Dad, he nonchalantly said “I’m going to bed, goodnight.” My dads eyes lit up. “You’re not gonna?” He got up and embraced his son in the most genuine and loving way I had ever witnessed. He then went to our Mom, and she responded with shock, followed by relief, and lastly, love. Pure love, expressed in the most heartwarming embrace.
As we left to go to our rooms and go to bed I said:
“You’re my hero Rors”
“You’re the hero Ryan”
Before going into my room I stepped into the bathroom. Overwhelmed with emotion I cried, I cried more powerfully then I had in my whole life. I whispered to myself “I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough.” I felt like a little kid, with the weight of the world on my shoulders and I was terrified I was going to drop it. That my whole world was going to come crashing down around me. But then I reminded myself, this is what I always wanted. And I went to bed.