The journey of a surviving sibling is full of ups and downs. Usually, people come to us to ask about how parents are, people forget that we have also suffered a loss, we are usually the forgotten mourners. This week I’m sharing the first pieces of...
The journey of a surviving sibling is full of ups and downs. Usually, people come to us to ask about how parents are, people forget that we have also suffered a loss, we are usually the forgotten mourners.
This week I’m sharing the first pieces of information that the detectives were able to gather and share with us, as well as how it was seeing my sisters, my mother, and my father while they arrived at the hospital.
In this episode I’m covering:
For full episode show notes and transcript, click here
Connect with Maya
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Website | The Surviving Siblings
[00:00:00] welcome to the surviving siblings podcast. I'm your host, Maya Koffler as a surviving sibling myself. I knew that I wanted to share my story. My brother's story. I lost my brother to a homicide in November, 2016. And after going through this experience, I knew that I wanted to share my story [00:00:30] and his story.
[00:00:31] And it's taken me quite some time to come to the mic to tell it, but I knew it was an important one to tell. So here I am to share his story and mine with you. And it's important that I tell the story of the surviving sibling, the forgotten Warner, the story that is not told enough. So thank you for coming with me on this journey and thank you for listening to my story.[00:01:00]
[00:01:04] When I returned from the lobby and the dramatic scene and the stress of the entire situation that had occurred, I was greeted by the first detective that I would speak to. And he was quite a small man and had a calming and kind presence to him. And he introduced himself and my brother's [00:01:30] girlfriend was in the room and was still quite upset.
[00:01:34] Of course, we all would be for a very long time. This was a lot to take in all at once. And I begun to ask him questions about where this happened and how this could have happened. And if there were other people involved and he obliged and answered my questions, he told me that it took place. It was at a location just south of downtown Atlanta.
[00:01:59] It [00:02:00] was an open area. He said, as of right now, he didn't have all of the details, but there was another gentleman that had been shot. There was a, like a grazing of a bullet and he was actually in the hospital as well. I was not allowed to know who he was. I was not allowed to know what his name was or anything like that.
[00:02:22] And I can empathize and understand that. But in the moment I was. Really upset. I just wanted to talk to this person. I was [00:02:30] just trying to piece every piece of this puzzle together. It was like a hundred piece puzzle and I had like five pieces. It was a nightmare. All he knew was the location. They had some of the gentlemen in custody that they were going to question and he was.
[00:02:47] A li like liaison type of detective, he wasn't going to be the detective assigned to the case. He was the person there to just deliver the information. I am not an expert on that. [00:03:00] So that's all I knew. And that's all I understood at the time. And I had so many questions for him and he really couldn't answer them.
[00:03:07] He just could tell me that my brother had been on a video shoot and my brother was filming the video. Would sound accurate. My brother did videography and I had been looking at my brother's Facebook. And the last time anything was posted, I believe it was around eight or so in the evening. And he was shot about an hour or so after that, [00:03:30] somewhere around that timeline.
[00:03:32] And so it's eerie to see those videos because you see these men that were involved in that. It was eerie. Then it's still Erie to this day. And I can't look at it, but there weren't a lot of answers. There were just some facts about where it happened, who ended up calling. It was actually some people that heard the gunshots go off.
[00:03:52] And I was so confused about how my mother was informed and how all of that played out. And I started to learn through the [00:04:00] detective being there. And then also my brother's girlfriend. She had explained that they had my brother's phone, that detective confirmed that as well, that they actually hadn't my brother's phone.
[00:04:09] And what had happened is one of these gentlemen, as they referred to them and them as actually contacted my brother's girlfriend to let her know what had happened, because she was the last person in the phone. And I don't know what I was thinking exactly in that moment, but. All I [00:04:30] know is I talk about it right now is I was just disgusted by that, that these people could call and say that and inform her that way.
[00:04:39] And that's how my mother found out. And I couldn't even imagine I've talked about getting the call and we all get a call a certain way, or we find out about the loss of our sibling. And the loss of anyone when we go through this, unless we witness it. And it's so challenging. And I [00:05:00] just still talking about it to this day.
[00:05:01] My stomach hurts for her. And I can't even imagine because those were the people that were behind this and why he is not with us today. And that's who informed. It's very tragic. And the detective gave me his information and told me that there would be someone to come speak to me later on. That would be on the case.
[00:05:26] And that's really all I knew. And, you know, I [00:05:30] had confirmation at this point that my brother couldn't be operated on. I knew that from the doctor, I've been asked several times to check again by my family. I knew now that. Sisters had gotten together and they were driving and they were coming up and they would get there at some time in the middle of the night.
[00:05:50] And my father was booking a flight and I had talked to him and, you know, told him that, you know, my brother wasn't going to make it. And he needed to get there. Same situation with my mother. [00:06:00] She was residing in the Northeast, as I've talked about. And she wasn't able to get a flight in until she could get there in the morning just where she was located.
[00:06:10] So that's where we were and I was taking and fielding all of those calls in that side room that I, that I had been going in and out of, and soon they informed me that they were gonna move him, my brother to the extreme trauma area. And this is upstairs in greater. [00:06:30] And what happens there for anyone who doesn't know what grade he is like in Atlanta, that area is really where they kind of make people comfortable when they're going to pass, or it's just a really dark area.
[00:06:44] You feel it when you're there. And so my brother's girlfriend wanted to stay and. Part of her family left and she stayed and I believe her father stayed at that time, but she stayed and [00:07:00] he was moved up there and I went up there with him and then I kind of dragged on because it was just the oddest feeling, knowing that you were sitting there with someone now in this, this next room we were upstairs.
[00:07:16] And I knew that I was never going to talk to him again. I knew that he was never going to respond to me ever again. I knew it in my head, but my heart was having trouble accepting it. [00:07:30] But I also had to continue to be in this mode of keeping everything together, making sure my sisters and their husbands got there.
[00:07:39] Everyone had places to stay and you know, my parents were going to get there and I'm signing paperwork and making decisions with doctors about resuscitation. Well, my brother was being moved upstairs. I had to call my work, uh, and let them know. And I was down at, [00:08:00] uh, like a corridor hallway type area at that time.
[00:08:03] And I broke down a little bit. At that point, I felt like I was allowed to, which sounds silly to me now, because of course I was allowed to, but I didn't feel like I could. And I told them, and it was a shock. And I said, I don't know when I'm coming back. I can't talk about this. I got to go. And I just kind of hung up the phone on a colleague of mine that I was working with.
[00:08:27] And then also I had called my, my boss [00:08:30] and it was just, again, the call. These calls are so dark, but also so poignant in these poignant moments in. And so my sisters ended up making it there in the middle of the night, early morning, and it was tarred. It was difficult to see both of them reacting very differently.
[00:08:51] I have a sister who's 10 years younger than me and she's. Quite sensitive and soft and sweet. And she's got that [00:09:00] type of personality and was obviously heartbroken by it. She's seven years younger than my brother, 10 years younger than me and my other sister is just the polar opposite of me in so many different ways.
[00:09:11] But she wanted to get to the no, and she's very black and white and didn't want to get emotional with it at all. It was just w what's going on? What are the. And so we're all in the room and we're told that the detective is there and I'm [00:09:30] guarding my family from what's going on. I was really shielding them from a lot, especially after what I had seen and witnessed.
[00:09:39] I knew, I think deep in my heart, even with such numbness and trauma already happening to me that that was going to change me for the rest of my life. And I was so grateful that. By the time my brother had been moved upstairs, he looked much different than he did downstairs. And there was no longer mass blood [00:10:00] scene going on.
[00:10:01] There was still quite a bit of blood and he had, you know, bandages on all over his face and it was challenging, but watching them break down and see him for the first time really got to me, but it also made me realize. Wow. I I'm just kind of grateful. They didn't have to see what I saw and this, you know, we kept getting nurses and different information and they were getting him comfortable and he was essentially brain dead.
[00:10:29] He [00:10:30] wasn't there anymore. He was completely on life support and we're just waiting for the family. And a detective comes in and. I motion to my sister and she comes with me. This is drew. Who's a year younger than me. And she, we walk over and I start talking to this detective and he's the one that had been interviewing the gentleman that shot my brother.
[00:10:55] And this moment sitting here talking about it today, [00:11:00] still is so emotional and makes my stomach. Cringe and sick. And he told me that he had been interviewing them and he felt that they were upstanding gentlemen, which made me sick because I knew something was off about the situation. And he said it was an accident.
[00:11:22] He told me that on the set of this movie, they were filming a gun accidentally, had gone off [00:11:30] and shot my brother and killed. And I looked at him dead in the eye. My sister was sitting next to me and listening to this and she, I know she was processing in her own logical way and I'm processing in my way.
[00:11:43] And I looked at him right away and I said, that's bullshit. He told me right away that apparently this particular gun, he was describing this rifle that had gone off and ricocheted and hit my brother directly. In his face. And [00:12:00] after speaking in my journey, which I'll talk about, I knew right away that couldn't, couldn't be right.
[00:12:06] It was a direct shot. I saw it myself. I saw where it had hit him in the whole story, felt wrong. It felt so wrong to me. Especially after getting the Intel that I had from his roommate and just already starting to put a couple more pieces together. And I went off on this detective and a respectful way, not [00:12:30] the same way too, with the roommate, but I said, no, I said, there's just no way.
[00:12:33] I said, this is impossible. And. He tried to keep explaining it to me. And I said, this is impossible. No, I said the story's not adding up. I know enough about guns. I'm not a gun expert either here, but I know enough that that is not adding up here. And you need to keep talking to these guys and you need to figure out what's going on.
[00:12:57] And I explained what had happened earlier. [00:13:00] And just more about the history. And I got just such a bad feeling from this detective, the opposite of what I felt from the gentleman that I had spoken to first, and my heart broke. It broke right there because I knew. Somehow some way at that point, this was not going to be as cut and dry as I thought.
[00:13:22] And he, he left and I remember looking at my sister telling her, like, that's not, there's no way. Like I just kept [00:13:30] saying over and over again. I know this, this doesn't add up. This doesn't add up, but we had to focus on getting. You know, my mom there and getting the family there and, and that's what we did.
[00:13:41] And, you know, finding out how my brother was doing and being stabilized, even though there was no way he would come out of this. And that was really the. Until the detective could come back and give more information. But at this time we really had to spend the time with my brother and my sisters were [00:14:00] tired.
[00:14:00] There's an area in Grady, which I hope you never have to experience this. But if you have as a surviving sibling, you know, if you know someone's in the hospital and you're waiting. They're on life support. There's an area for the family where you can kind of lay down and sleep. And it's there's some times they'll give you a private area, which they did eventually, but it's not glamorous.
[00:14:21] It is not glamorous at all. And my sisters and their husbands were kind of in there and I [00:14:30] slept on my brother, but I didn't sleep. I was just there. I was just there with him and it was rough. It was really, really rough. And. I ended up meeting because I was sitting there with these nurses through the night and then ended up meeting all of the nurses that were taking care of my brother.
[00:14:51] And I think that these women are just so incredible. I mean, there's men too, but it just so happened in this situation that it was two particular women that were [00:15:00] assigned to him and they were both so incredible. And there was one that I called, like my angel nurse, she, her and I just really bonded and.
[00:15:09] Really got how devastated I was by this situation. And I started talking to her about it and she just listened and she checked in and she got me extra pillows for him and for me, and it was intense and it was very lonely at the same time. That was a very special time for me though, [00:15:30] being able to spend that time with my mother.
[00:15:32] I was able to sit there and hold his hand. And, you know, there could only be two people in the room during certain hours and you can't have like this whole crowd in there. And I was, I was there. I did not leave. I did not want to leave. I didn't sleep at all. And so the next Sunday is rolling in and. You know, my sisters [00:16:00] are, you know, coming back in and seeing him.
[00:16:02] And my youngest sister is spending more time in there with her husband. And my mother has arrived at this time and in the morning, and I am completely a wreck. I'm exhausted. I'm overtired. I've been fielding calls from my father from Africa, and it's been a lot. I've been making decisions and you know, we've heard a little bit more from the detective, but not enough.
[00:16:27] And my mother shows up with [00:16:30] her significant other, and he has been really, really not a positive person in her life. He had been abusive towards her. I knew about the abuse and it was not a positive situation. I was not thrilled to see him there, especially after hearing some of the reasons. Gone through with him and some of the calls she had made to me about the things that he had done and [00:17:00] she had, you know, had rollercoaster relationships.
[00:17:02] And so I was kind of used to this, but I just remember thinking to myself, oh my God, like, this is not the time and the place. And I'm sure we've all been there with our family members. I can't believe this. So they're there, it happened. I had to accept it and they're acting like a couple and everything is fine.
[00:17:21] And I just can't even process that. I'm like, I'm here for my brother. This is, this is what's going on. And [00:17:30] I remember us being downstairs all together. My brother needed to have some, some changing happening and some other people were in there and I ended up. This was a pretty, um, heated moment. My family really wanted me to rest and you know, it was over exhausted.
[00:17:49] I've just been there for like 24 hours. It was crazy. I was waiting for my dad to get there. I couldn't rest. It did not matter. It didn't matter. I, you know, it was, the [00:18:00] doctors actually gave me a medication for my anxiety. I already had anxiety medication. It did not matter. I couldn't, I just couldn't sleep.
[00:18:07] I couldn't, this had completely destroyed me. I started to realize that my sister, who was a year younger than me, would not go into the room and even see my, see my brother by herself. She would go in there with other people, but she wouldn't see him by herself. And [00:18:30] my relationship with my sister who is you're younger than me was already.
[00:18:36] Not good. It was not good because of things that had happened pretty recently, only with her and I unfortunately, and I remember getting so upset with her. I was so overtired. I was so exhausted and I remember freaking out again, this theme for me, I had so much in me. I had to hold it [00:19:00] together and I remember.
[00:19:01] Pulling her in the hallway. And we were, we were fighting and I was telling her, I'm like, this is not the place. It's not the time our brother is up there and he is, he's dying. He's essentially dead. And you can't even go in there and say goodbye to him. And she was just so stoic and so cold and so disconnected.
[00:19:26] That started to really break. Because who [00:19:30] cares about what happened between the two of you who cares about what's going on with mom or what's going on between you and I? Because I didn't care about that. I didn't did not at all. I was so angry at her for not being able to go into that room because everybody got alone time.
[00:19:47] Even my aunt and uncle who came as well, they were there and said what they wanted to say or goodbye. My sister couldn't even do that. She couldn't even go in the room by herself and I was disgusted and I [00:20:00] was angry by it. And we started to fight out out in the hallway, which was downstairs. It was not near where my brother was.
[00:20:08] And so I wrote. My sister's husband coming out and trying to like break us up because I was just so enraged with her. I couldn't believe it. I could not believe how selfish she was being in this. She wouldn't even stay at the hospital. She was staying in a hotel down the road, so she wasn't even there all that much.
[00:20:29] And here I [00:20:30] am like laying over my brother. I'll never forget it. And I, it got physical between her and I. We weren't hitting each other, but it was like, I was shaking her and like so upset and her husband came out and I pushed him. And I said, you know, this isn't about you. This is between her and I, it goes so much deeper and it was really difficult because I had so many things I wanted her husband to know too.
[00:20:57] And that's, those were the reasons her and I weren't talking. [00:21:00] And it wasn't the time or the place and nor is it my place to say that. And I just felt so overwhelmed. It was so overwhelming to be a part of that whole situation. And I felt so alone because nobody saw what I saw. Nobody felt when I was feeling nobody knew my exact experience.
[00:21:25] And I remember telling them to go have themselves. They [00:21:30] didn't understand. And I was just beside myself and I walked away and I walked back up to go be with my brother and wait. And I knew that I needed to wait until my dad got there. That's really, that was going to be really important for my brother. A lot of the fighting that was happening too with my family, had to do with the fact that.
[00:21:57] I was being very open [00:22:00] about the fact that my brother was on life support. He wasn't going to make it. And they were really upset with me for sharing that on social media. I had not shared that he had been shot. I had not shared that, where it had happened or any of, you know, any of those things. But I asked for prayers and I was chastised by my family for it.
[00:22:24] And. I'll probably still be chastised by my family today with how I've decided [00:22:30] to deal with this situation. But my brother was a very public person, even more so than myself. And I just kind of knew that's what he would want. And I received a lot of messages about it for him, and that's what he would have wanted.
[00:22:50] And I know that now. And so. A lot of that, the resentment towards me that was happening in the, in the family. As far as [00:23:00] my sister, who's a year younger than me and my mother. They didn't want anybody to know. They were ashamed in, in my opinion and how I see it. They were ashamed. They didn't want people to know they were going to think that my brother overdosed or did something bad because he had not lived a squeaky clean, perfect life.
[00:23:19] And I just thought that was such crap. Because it doesn't matter. None of that mattered. What mattered was we were [00:23:30] losing the physical brother, son that we had, and that's what mattered. And we were focusing on the wrong things because I chose to share this with people that would also want to know and potentially say goodbye.
[00:23:47] And I wasn't allowed to do. That was in a raging moment for me and why things got so heated and why things got so out of control in my opinion, and that situation. [00:24:00] And it really sunk in even more that moment of me looking at the Grady sign and knowing there was going to be a choice there was going to be a division.
[00:24:11] Or we were going to all come together. And as that 24 hour period started to creep into the next 24 hour period, I started to realize division was happening. I was in a corner by myself when I wasn't in with my brother, which was very rare that I wasn't and I felt alone. And the only [00:24:30] time I didn't feel alone is when I was with him.
[00:24:34] That was the only time until my dad.
[00:24:41] Thank you so much for listening to the surviving siblings podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, as much as I did creating it for you, then share it on your chosen social media platform. And don't forget to tag us at surviving siblings podcast so that more surviving siblings can find us, [00:25:00] remember to rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast.
[00:25:04] And don't forget to follow us on all social media plus. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and tick talk at surviving siblings podcast. All links can be found in the show notes. So be sure to check those out too. Thank you again for the support and until the next episode, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.[00:25:30]