The morning of February 11th, my husband and I headed down to Terry’s home in Ogden, Utah. As I gazed out the window, I reflected on a conversation Terry and I had back in 1992. In February of that year, I had gone to Ogden for the weekend. One evening Terry drove us up to the Ogden canyon, so that we could talk. After parking the pick-up, he proceeded to tell me that he was feeling even more isolated. He made reference to the fact that the “family members” had hugs for each other, but none for him. No one in the family, with the exception of me, understood his loneliness and pain. He continued on saying that he was beginning to feel as if he were invisible because people would look right through him. He closed by making the comment that he was a horrible monster no one could ever love. I punched his arm playfully and said, “Hey now I love you.” He simply replied, “Yeah sis, I know you love me, but it’s not the same.” He shared his hope that one day he would meet someone that would love him the way my husband love me.
Staring out the driver’s side window he mumbled, “But that will never happen.” I knew at that moment he had been contemplating suicide. So I came right out and asked him, “Terry have you been thinking about putting a gun to your head?” Choosing not to answer me he simply started the truck. Sensing his avoidance of my question I asked him again. His response was so calm it sent chills down my spine, “Yeah sis, I have thought about killing myself but it won’t be with a gun. Instead I am just going to drive my pickup over the edge of the Ogden Dam.” Ice began to fill my veins. “Terry you can’t do that to me. We promised that we would always be here for each other.” Even now I can see his face as he responded, “I’m just kidding sis, I’m not going to kill myself.” Those words from the past were running through my mind as my husband and I crossed the Utah line.
I found myself increasingly anxious as we arrived in Ogden. When we pulled up in front of Terry’s home everything looked normal. His pickup was parked in the driveway and his dog Rusty was greeting us with his usual bark. I found myself praying that Terry would be inside the house eagerly waiting for me. When I opened the front door instead of seeing Terry, I saw our cousin Phil who was an officer with the Ogden Police Dept. He was sitting in one of the living room chairs with his head bowed. As I walked towards him he slowly lifted his head and raised his hands to me, “Lorie I was the responding officer.” I had been in a state of denial but at that moment the reality began to hit me. My brother was never going to greet me again. He was really gone.
Later that evening as I made my way down the hall to my bedroom (Terry had set aside one of the bedrooms just for me) I remembered the last conversation my brother and I had. It was Jan. 30th at my mom’s birthday party. Terry had called to get my mom’s phone number around 8:00pm. He said that Aunt Ruth, whom he affectionately called “Nana” wanted to wish her a happy birthday. He sounded so distant that I kept asking if he was okay. He would respond, “Yeah sis I’m fine.” He told me that he had to go after he had written the number down. “Terry”, I said, “You know how much I love you don’t you?” He answered vaguely, “I know sis, I love you too.” As we hung up this strange sense of loss came over me.
The morning of the service I felt as if I was wading through quicksand. I did not want to face the cold reality of it all. Instead I wanted to stay within the safety of my denial. The service was like a dream to me. After all, that could not be my brother lying there in that gray marble box. It looked like my brother Terry but it just could not be him. It came time to close the casket’s lid and I found myself trying to crawl inside with my brother. We had promised that we would always be there for each other and now total strangers were trying to separate us. I was not going to let them succeed. I believe it was my step-father who finally pulled me away so the funeral attendant could close the lid. As they latched the locks I felt as though my heart was being shredded by razor blades and then there was nothing, nothing but a large black hole taking the place of my heart.
Someone, I do not know who, took my hand and led me to a car for the funeral procession. Once arriving at the cemetery they led me to a square hole in the frozen ground where they proceeded to set Terry’s casket. I can remember feeling an icy numbness as I watched the final scenes played out. Afterwards, my husband led me to our car telling me it was time to head home. I let him strap me in like an obedient child. I found that my eyes no longer focused on the here and now. Everything had became a continuous blur.
When we got back to Idaho, my husband discovered that our “hell” had just begun. I had withdrawn so far into myself that I had become a walking zombie. A few weeks after returning home my husband tried to reach me and I resented the intrusion into my cold little world. I let him know by telling him that when they had sealed my brother up in that box they had sealed me up also and not only did they bury him they buried me along with him. My stinging remark cut my husband deeply. But because he loved me he kept trying to reach me. Many a night he would take my car keys because I had made it clear that I did not want to go on living. I found myself hating the man I had once called my “best friend.” He had now become my worst enemy.
I found my days intertwining, turning into months and years. Each day I awoke with emptiness filling my soul. I had found myself feeling just as Terry had unloved and invisible. I was in such a severe depression that I could not see the loving arms that were reaching out to me. One morning, however, I woke up and felt a little tinge of something in the area where my heart had been; each morning after that I felt more and more of my heart coming back to life. It felt as if someone was inside tenderly putting my shattered heart back together one piece at a time. Day by day I found my eyes focusing again. Life was clearer and the continuous blur was gone. Slowly the icy numbness inside started melting away and the long slow process of healing began.
Six years have now passed since my brother became “another statistic.” I still carry an invisible scar in my heart as a constant reminder of the events that transpired in 1994. There is still a large void both in my heart and life that will never be filled; simply because I can no longer just pick up the phone and say, “Hey bro, guess what!” I no longer have my “own room” in Ogden. I now find myself at a little cemetery in Brigham City, Utah saying my hellos to a granite headstone. I no longer receive warm brotherly hugs as the only contact I have with him is in the coldness of the marble. I tenderly brush away the grass, leaves and dirt from around my brother’s marker remembering his life. As I lovingly gaze upon it, my eyes are drawn to the scene I had engraved upon it; my final gift to my brother.
The first thing I see is a towering mountain surrounded by trees, at the base of the mountain is a simple log cabin with a front porch facing the mountain. My eyes are then drawn to the gentlemen sitting in a wooden rocking chair gazing up at his mountain. My eyes fill with tears as I remember Terry’s statement about his “dream home,” he said, “One day sis, I’m going to move up into the mountains and build me a log home.” I would just smile and say, “Oh Terry, you would get so lonely up there in the mountains all by yourself.” He would then gaze up at the Ogden mountainside and claim, “No sis, up in the mountains is the only place I do belong.”