Sunday, March 08, 2009


My youngest brother died yesterday. Eddie just turned 45 in January. It'll be a couple of days or so before we know why - but I had expected that when my Mother called, it would be to tell me he took his own life. It doesn't appear to have been that.

Eddie got a raw deal early and it haunted him. When he was 12 or so, he was taken to the doctor because he complained his legs hurt all the time (he was in Little League). Our family has a history of Muscular Dystrophy and doctor jumped to conclusions - it would be 2 years before things were straightened out but by that time the damage was done. Knowing what my parents did about MD, the later it hits, the more destructive it is - this was a death sentence for Eddie. For the next two years, he was given leeway to be/do almost anything - and he took advantage of it - as teenagers are prone to do. At 17 Eddie checked himself into rehab. More or less, things never really improved much from that point on. Shortly after that, his girlfriend got pregnant and both families tried to talk them both out of marriage. They got married and within a year moved to Austin where Eddie got a job from Diana's father. When his second son was born, there were complications and Eddie's response was to attempt suicide. His son was ok, Eddie survived a lame attempt.

A year or so later, they moved back to Chicago and Eddie got a good job and was very good at what he did (electrical construction). But it was rocky and Diana and he eventually divorced. As is normal for my family, Diana remained an important part of our family gatherings and the boys were regulars at my parents. Eddie struggled with addictions of one form or another and despite that, his employer stuck with him - he was just that good - when he was there, which was most, but not all the time.

Eddie met and eventually moved in with Cyndi. In many regards she was good for him, others, not so. Eddie abused the relationship and Cyndi hung on. Eddie would go to sleep and with minor bathroom breaks, sleep for days on end. He was delusional, psychotic at times. He got treatment, but didn't like taking the meds. When he went off them, it would 8 days of sleep out of 10, 2 days of delusional rantings. Through it all, Cyndi stayed with him. The boys got out of school - they are doing great.

Over the last year or two, things had improved, some. But it was always a fragile thing. I would hear that he was coming over to help my parents, but later learned he 'was down' and never made it. HE DID help Mom and Dad, a lot. He tried and when he was ok, we could enjoy a repartee that I had with no one else. He helped me when I built out the lower level - driving all the way here, worked for hours, and drove home again. Cyndi joined him and it was good.

So, it was a matter of when with Eddie, not if. He walked an edge with one foot almost always over it. Dad called him one of the finest electricians he ever worked with. He was outgoing, friendly, always willing to help. But his demons always seemed to lurk just below the surface.

Two days ago, he fell off a ladder. It didn't seem a big thing. Cyndi went out yesterday, Shawn noticed he was not very attentive. It looked like Eddie was 'going to be down' for a day or two. Shawn went out and Cyndi came back in the early evening to find him sprawled on the bed.

The demons probably didn't do it. Accidents happen. Eddie burned the candle at both ends for many years and he was physically much older than his years. Unlike the raw emotions I had with Billy, Eddie's death is a little like relief - certainly not for us, for Diana, or Cyndi, Shawn or Matt, or my parents. For Eddie. I am very glad it did not appear to be at his own hand. That will not give much comfort but it does mean that Eddie persevered. He didn't give up. No matter the demons, no matter the trials, he faced them.

Eddie got a raw deal and it finally caught up with him. I take no comfort in his death - I will miss him. But, he and Billy can get along and keep each other company. They both died way too early, but long after they were expected to.

Rest my brother. This time, it will be a good sleep.

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