This I believe, in the ability of the human spirit to rebound from utter devastation and heartbreak. For somewhere in the inner core of our humanity is a flame that remains lit until the very day we take our last breath. On March 15, 2004 I had taken a personal day off from work to get some very much needed R&R. At approximately 5:30PM I received a phone call from a long time friend of my brother. The caller stated that I needed to immediately go to my brother’s residence. When I arrived on the scene the first thing I saw was the yellow tape. My heart sank and my gut felt as if someone shoved a dagger into my abdomen. Next I observed men in uniform mulling around the front door of my brothers apartment. As I drove by to find a place to park I strained to catch a glimpse of what was happening inside. Exiting my car I was approached by a man who identified himself as detective so-in-so. Then the questions started, who was I, when was the last time I spoke or saw my brother, did he have a history of illness and finally did I know if he did drugs? As a child my brother suffered from severe migraines and was tested for everything from chocolate to medications. So, my response was he may have taken medication for migraines. This was not what they meant. After ruling out homicide I was told my brother died from an accidental overdose. As they finished their work I was informed that I should stand back from the yellow tape. It was at this time his body was to come forth in a body bag to be place in the coroners vehicle. I declined to move for this would be the last time I would ever see my brother, even if in a body bag.
I will never forget that smell, the air filled with a stench. A disgusting odor that comes when a life force has diminished and all that is left is flesh. This reek would haunt me for days to follow as I entered my brother’s place to find his DD2-14 papers (veteran discharge papers). In my search I happened upon the place my brother collapsed onto the floor and proceeded to bleed through his eyes, nose and mouth. Unknown to me his shoes were filled with his blood. This I discovered when I moved them, and this is when I wept, uncontrollably.
My brother’s death at the age of 40 will never make sense to me, my understanding no matter how hard I try is limited. Instead I have come to an acceptance of what is and that I don’t have to figure out why he chose to mix heroine with methamphetamines. Instead I have chosen to live by the inscription on his headstone, “Make A Difference.” For his life did when I chose to leave that taskmaster of a job and enter the judicial branch of government to “Make a Difference”. I am now part of a system where I can be the closest voice of the people who long for justice. This I Believe.
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