During your grief journey your feelings and emotions ebb and flow. I dont believe there’s such thing as “highs” in the grief journey, more like lows and hope. Going into year 2 of losing my brother, I was losing hope because I felt that I had...
In this episode I’m talking about the updates (or lack thereof) on my brother’s case from the “Dirty Detective”, how I was trying lo live a “normal life” when there’s no such thing as normal anymore, spending a different Thanksgiving, seeing my family again at my sister’s graduation, how I felt abandoned and alone, my now husband, and more.
In this episode I’m covering:
For full episode show notes and transcript, click here
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[00:00:00] welcome to the surviving siblings podcast. I'm your host, [00:00:10] Maya Roffler as a surviving sibling myself. I knew that I wanted to share my story. My brother's story. I lost my [00:00:20] 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 [00:00:40] 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 [00:00:50] not told enough. So thank you for coming with me on this journey and thank you for listening to my story.[00:01:00]
[00:01:03] Here I was coming into the second year of the loss of my brother [00:01:10] 2018, and I've let my PI go and have gotten these cryptic messages and gotten little pieces of the [00:01:20] puzzle here. The detective assigned to the case is so evasive and giving me different stories here and there. [00:01:30] When I do get him on the phone, I, I did get some information here and there from him as I've shared in previous [00:01:40] episodes, but it was nothing concrete at this point.
[00:01:45] We're almost two years in to the death [00:01:50] of my brother coming up on the anniversary and they still hadn't gone through forensics. And he's telling me that [00:02:00] I almost like to call them dirty detective. I hate to say that, but it is what it is. It was such a exhausting experience for me. [00:02:10] And he tells me that basically, They still had not sent, you know, the bullets that have been in my brothers.
[00:02:19] [00:02:20] Again, this is a trigger for people sometimes to talk about this. So just giving you guys a warning, this is a little graphic again, but the bullet that had been in my brother's [00:02:30] head had still not been sent off. The full forensic situation where they match it to the gun and, you know, confirm that it was this [00:02:40] particular guy's gut.
[00:02:40] And cause there was two involved now that had come out right later that I'd shared with you guys between this like smaller gun in the shotgun and all of, you know, the [00:02:50] crazy stories I had. The variations, even though I really knew what had happened. I mean, let's be real. He was shot with this, the [00:03:00] smaller gun.
[00:03:01] I at least got that much out of the conversation with the, and that much confirmation out of my conversations with the private investigator. Because again, I, I think he was probably [00:03:10] okay at his job. I think he probably just wanted the case for the wrong reasons. And it's disheartening when people. Are in your life and [00:03:20] not supporting you for the right reasons and take advantage of you, especially when you're going through something like this.
[00:03:26] And when you're grieving, it's terrible. [00:03:30] I did also. I think we're going to call him dirty detective. So with the dirty detective, I did also get a [00:03:40] confirmation that there, I remember asking him, I should say it this way. I remember asking him, you know, was anyone else calling, you know, my, the only one [00:03:50] calling and I had mentioned in previous episodes that, you know, I knew my mother wasn't calling and it was only a man that was calling.
[00:03:57] And of course he can't say who [00:04:00] it was, but I. There was no other man who would call who would it be? It was obviously my father, but it gave me some comfort [00:04:10] to know that that was happening. But again, I tried to keep calling and after the last call that I [00:04:20] had with him, the detective, he, his voicemail was fully kind of just stopping.
[00:04:26] And I felt defeated. I really did. [00:04:30] And I was exhausted. And I'm sure some of you can relate to this. Probably all of you can relate to this. I was [00:04:40] so tired because I was not only grieving. I was not only. Going through this really [00:04:50] post-traumatic experience, watching my brother go through, you know, obviously dying and you know, this [00:05:00] graphic scene I watched and then being with him and this intense loss, it's very intense.
[00:05:06] I choke up even saying that still. And I probably always [00:05:10] will. And that part, you know, I've accepted with about myself and I hope that you can. Too, because it's okay. I've realized that that's okay. It doesn't make you [00:05:20] weak. It makes you strong to, to open yourself and make yourself vulnerable. But, you know, I was just [00:05:30] tired, just tired because I was fighting and I had, I looked behind me.
[00:05:37] Elyx beside me. I looked in [00:05:40] front of me and there was no. Fighting this battle with me and maybe my dad was, you know, he was, but he was from afar and we weren't a [00:05:50] United front. And that made things so challenging because it was like, it brought up a whole. [00:06:00] You know, slew of confusion and questions for myself too.
[00:06:04] And in early, well, I guess not early 2018, halfway through 2018, I ended up [00:06:10] taking a job that was a little just kind of steady Eddie job, because I was tired. I really wanted to kind of just have a steady Eddy kind of sales [00:06:20] job and just kind of have a normal life for a little bit, because life had not been no.
[00:06:26] And I don't think Penn life will ever be normal ever again and again, I'm at a [00:06:30] different place with that now, but I, I think I just wanted to have like a normal life go back to kind of a corporate-y environment. And I was trying something kind of different. [00:06:40] I was like in it, so it was very random, but I'm always willing to try something new that's me.
[00:06:48] And I'm glad I did it because I ended [00:06:50] up meeting my husband. So it was interesting that two years in there was. Um, this light that came out of this darkness and, [00:07:00] um, my husband and I, uh, ended up becoming like best friends, day one. He was, we worked together and we started dating three months later and long [00:07:10] story short, we got married a year later.
[00:07:11] So that's a part of the story. But. 2018. I was contacted [00:07:20] again by my youngest sister. So, you know, after I, I just, we didn't talk for awhile. Um, which was sad after we had the conversation about my mom [00:07:30] being at peace. And I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that a mother was at peace, you know, 10, 11 months after their son was [00:07:40] murdered.
[00:07:40] I just was disgusted by the whole thing. And. She really couldn't understand me. And I knew that would drive a wedge and it did, we didn't, we didn't talk. And I get this [00:07:50] call from her or text from her because again, she's 10 years younger than me. So I get this text from her that she's graduating and she was graduating in December.
[00:07:59] So it was going to be [00:08:00] at the end of 2018 and she wanted to catch up. And so. I was really happy that she reached out and we did, we caught up and I let her [00:08:10] know, you know, that I was in a serious relationship and I was seeing someone and, you know, she was like, I really want you to be there at my graduation.
[00:08:18] You've been an important part of my [00:08:20] life, blah, blah, blah, blah, all that good stuff. It was a beautiful conversation. It was good. And she was excited to see us. And so, you know, that's, that [00:08:30] became a positive term. Of course. And I've talked about it on here on other episodes, and I'll continue to talk about it.
[00:08:38] You know, grief [00:08:40] is ebbs and flows and I have felt more lows than highs, but because I don't think grieving [00:08:50] has highs, but it has moments where you have hope and that I think it's more like Lows and hope. And so this was kind of a moment of hope where I felt like maybe there could [00:09:00] be, you know, my sister and I.
[00:09:02] You know, get back on track and maybe help each other grieve and reconnect because she's like more than just my sister, she's like a [00:09:10] daughter to me and it makes me so emotional. Um, and I had felt so alone, but there was this other side where I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm in this, [00:09:20] you know, new relationship. I think we have been together for six months at this point when this conversation was happening.
[00:09:25] And, you know, I think our, we had known each other for six months or [00:09:30] something like that. I don't know. You know, and I also was going to have to talk to my now husband about a lot of Tufts staff about the [00:09:40] family dynamic that he really didn't understand or know I was going to have to tell him even more about like my brother's death.
[00:09:46] I, he knew about it of [00:09:50] course, but I really had to tell him about it and. That is a tough moment for us as surviving siblings is telling someone new in our [00:10:00] life or when we have someone new or significant come into our life and we have to tell the story it's reliving. It it's traumatizing, [00:10:10] especially prior to the two year mark, it was a lot.
[00:10:14] And so this is an important part of the story. For me for my story and for [00:10:20] my brother's story too, this is our story. And I'm sure there's moments in your story where you remember having to tell a certain people it's like [00:10:30] as surviving siblings, when we get asked, like how many siblings do you have? Oh my God, you guys, I hated that question for so many years.
[00:10:37] And now I, I don't [00:10:40] love the question, but. I know how to answer it. I know how I'm comfortable answering it now. So you evolve, [00:10:50] you never stopped grieving, but you evolve, you know how to tackle those things as you continue on your grief [00:11:00] journey, because I'm an open book. Of course I will share. When I say I typically, when people would ask me in the beginning, you know, how many siblings do you have?[00:11:10]
[00:11:11] The first few years, even at this time that I'm talking about right now in the first like two years, I would freeze. I was so like, [00:11:20] I didn't know what to say. And I would still say, you know, I'm the oldest of four, and then they would ask you, do you have brothers and sisters? And then I would [00:11:30] explain, and then ha God, I would just dread it so much now, you know, five years later going into say, I still say, you know, I I'm the oldest of four [00:11:40] and I explained my dynamic and I say, you know, when it comes to my brother, I'm like, you know, I say my brother passed and a lot of people say, oh, I'm so sorry.
[00:11:49] [00:11:50] I'm so sorry. And I'm like, I just say it's it's okay. And I keep a lot of levity about it and that's how I answer. And that's how I answer right now. [00:12:00] Um, it's not okay. Um, no. Okay. You know, I think sometimes when people ask me, you know, do you care if I [00:12:10] ask how it happened? Things like that. I, it bothers me.
[00:12:14] It does. I don't like it. I only am okay with that question once we're [00:12:20] a little more than acquaintances. Like, or we're in like a support group or we have that dynamic. I'm not okay with someone. Like, if we're just [00:12:30] having like chit-chat and it's someone random in like an elevator talk or something like, you know, random like that.
[00:12:37] But if it's someone that I'm trying to, you know, even in [00:12:40] a business situation or something like that, I'm, I'm totally fine with them asking me. But if it's a very, very surface like conversation, It's still rubs me the wrong way a little bit. Cause I'm [00:12:50] like, oh, they're just trying to like really get the story or, you know, rubs me.
[00:12:55] I don't know, but I'm talking about it on an open platform. So I'm very comfortable [00:13:00] talking about it now. It doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt and it doesn't kill me, but I'm in a different place in how I talk about it now and how [00:13:10] I feel when I talk about it. It's still painful, but I'm not as uncomfortable.
[00:13:16] And. Hopefully, that makes sense for you guys, as you go through your [00:13:20] grief journey, it's you feel different when you talk about it, you're still hurting. You're still sad. You're always going to be sad and you're still going to hurt. It's just you gain this different strength and [00:13:30] perspective. And I think you're always strong.
[00:13:34] If you're making it through this, you have strength the entire time. It's a different, different form of strength and [00:13:40] different form of perspective. And I think you can only understand this if you're going through it. And I think if you're someone listening, that's supporting someone going through this, like a parent or a [00:13:50] friend.
[00:13:51] You, you may understand cause you're going through the loss too, but it's an evolution. But to get back on my story, my, uh, I just think [00:14:00] that's a really important question to talk about and, and go through because we go through it, but I had to, you know, go deeper than that question. I had to really talk about [00:14:10] this with my now husband and, you know, I had to talk about.
[00:14:14] You know, I had dated, like I said, you know, other people, since my brother had passed, but [00:14:20] nothing serious, I just didn't feel like I could get there. And even getting there with my now husband was hard because I had so much trauma in my life. And [00:14:30] even before my brother passed, but I had done a lot of work on myself.
[00:14:34] So this was really obviously the forefront and the worst thing I had been through. [00:14:40] And I remember. I had told him about the death and how he had passed in the homicide and everything. And he knew that I was actively, you know, searching for [00:14:50] answers. And I, he knew that I'd also taken like a beat and I had taken a breath and, and I was a little tired.
[00:14:59] And he [00:15:00] also knew, you know, that I, you know, when obviously when he passed and you just important things and he's very mindful and sensitive to it. [00:15:10] I think was a huge thing to look for when you're looking for. Someone to support you if you're not in a current relationship, or even if you're looking for [00:15:20] friendships and who to trust or be open with, or looking who to not have in your life during this time and looking back on it, I was like, yeah, [00:15:30] because he would just listen.
[00:15:31] And that was really important, really important, looking back on it. And I think that's what made us so close so quickly and why we got married so [00:15:40] quickly. I never thought I'd get married to be honest. And, um, so getting emotional over that, cause I always wanted my brother to be there, but I [00:15:50] believe he was.
[00:15:51] Um, Ooh. So I remember my husband, this was significant [00:16:00] to my husband telling me that right now, husband telling me that he wanted me to meet his family on Thanksgiving for the first time. Okay. So. [00:16:10] Instantly have a panic attack. I'm like freaking out. I'm like, you know, it's the worst holiday for me. It's the worst holiday for me [00:16:20] with all the family drama that happened two years before on that holiday, right after my brother passed.
[00:16:28] And now I'm going to meet his family. [00:16:30] And the fact that his family is still intact. And then, you know, he's going to meet my family. Whatever that means [00:16:40] I'm at my sister's graduation shortly after about two or three weeks after I think it was when he was going to meet them. Yeah. Early [00:16:50] December. And I'm like, so all of these things are going through my mind is I'm sure you guys can imagine listening to this podcast and my story, and I did not want to go [00:17:00] because it was a huge.
[00:17:02] Uh, Thanksgiving get together and I didn't know, or understand a hundred percent his dynamic. I just knew that his parents had been married [00:17:10] for a long time. And I knew that he had a brother and they weren't like super close, but it was his younger brother. We were both the oldest siblings, but [00:17:20] he had a brother.
[00:17:21] So this was a lot of triggering stuff for me. Like parents met together for a long time. My parents are like [00:17:30] on multiple different relationships. Like, you know, as we know. Me sharing their stories and he has a living brother. I was [00:17:40] just looking, you know, reflecting back on it. I knew at the time, but reflecting back on it, it's, I'm in such a clear Headspace.
[00:17:48] I was triggered. [00:17:50] Definitely. And I remember going into. Thanksgiving event, you know, carrying him like a bottle of wine. And, you know, my husband is a chef. And so like, [00:18:00] we had a couple of things that we brought and I'm just like, oh my God, oh my God, I can't do this. I cannot do this. Even two years later, two years later, [00:18:10] I wasn't comfortable.
[00:18:12] And I. Connecting very well with his parents and it was fine. And his relationship with [00:18:20] his brother is not close. And so it's, um, it's not my story to tell there, but I still [00:18:30] was, you know, that one. Super easy to see, but it wasn't as triggering as I thought because his parents were so pleasant and welcoming and the family was so wonderful and I [00:18:40] got through it and I enjoyed myself and I couldn't be like, this makes me emotional too.
[00:18:47] Um, I couldn't believe that. And I was like, [00:18:50] okay, if I can do this, like, it was a milestone for me. It was a milestone for sure. I remember us driving home because his family was [00:19:00] actually up in Atlanta at the time visiting family up here. So it was like a big thing. And he was, you know, checking on me asking, you know, were you okay?
[00:19:08] And I was like, yeah, that was actually [00:19:10] okay. That was actually good. I had a really good time actually. And there's a lot of actually he's in there because I really didn't know. I had so much [00:19:20] fear and anxiety because of those triggers and. Tell that part of the story in a part of these integral parts of my relationship that [00:19:30] happened because there is hope for you.
[00:19:33] To like find some normalcy, even if there's not normalcy in your own family, or if you [00:19:40] feel like you can't open up to those situations again, if I can do that. Oh my God. I believe anybody can, because two years before [00:19:50] was the Thanksgiving from hell. So if I can have, like, I had a beautiful Thanksgiving, I never in a million years thought that would have happened.
[00:19:59] And that was [00:20:00] definitely a moment of hope for me. Definitely sitting there with like our dogs and our huge family is really a beautiful moment. And [00:20:10] I felt like it gave me permission to kind of again, feel a little bit kind of like how I felt in Mexico way. I could feel. [00:20:20] And so we were going to the graduation for my sister from college and she's 10 years younger than me.
[00:20:29] So [00:20:30] this is what we're going to, and I, the fear and anxiety kicks in again, because I'm like, okay, I'm going to see my. Mother and [00:20:40] her boyfriend and I have not seen them since the passing of my brother, since that infamous hotel scene, where I walk out and they're all sitting there. I didn't really [00:20:50] care so much about seeing my sister and her husband.
[00:20:53] My other sister was a year younger than me and her husband. Like what? It doesn't matter to me. Like, I'll always have love for my sister. We [00:21:00] just don't have a connection like that. But it was more about my mother because I just don't know how she reacts to things. And she had also been sending me, I [00:21:10] guess I hadn't brought this up in previous episodes, but she had been sending me some bonus info.
[00:21:16] She had been sending me these weird [00:21:20] boxes, just full of stuff. And some of it was new ideas. Like jackets or clothes and which is nice and very [00:21:30] sweet. And like, it would have a note in there, but then she would like include like a picture or something. One thing of my brother, which in this had been going on, [00:21:40] you know, over the past, you know, year or so year and a half, she didn't do it like right away.
[00:21:45] It was like later 2017. She started our middle. [00:21:50] So it was like, yeah, you're right. And then 2018, you know, so 20 17, 20 18, and she's sending me these boxes. And I remember doing the unboxing with one of my [00:22:00] closest girlfriend who lost her mother. And it was just, some of the stuff was very kind. Some of it was substantial and some of it was crazy stuff.
[00:22:07] I remember when we were growing up, her mother would [00:22:10] do stuff like that, send weird stuff. So it started to get weird. And I know she, she would write me things like we miss you, or I miss you. And I'm like, Okay. [00:22:20] Like, just pick up the phone, like you have my phone number. If you really want to talk about this and hash this out.
[00:22:25] Like it was, and I, it's not that simple, but [00:22:30] she was constantly choosing her boyfriend over the ho the, in my opinion, the family and the situation and mourning and grieving, and actually dealing with everything. [00:22:40] And I've thought it was a little delusional that she would just send boxes of clothes and stuff.
[00:22:44] And then just give me one item of my brothers. When they left me for [00:22:50] that week for my up all by myself and when I was alone and I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't even know if I'd get my brother's ashes, get to go to the ceremony or [00:23:00] anything here, here. I ended up doing the eulogy and thank God I got his ass.
[00:23:05] Thank God. I got to be there like, oh my God, it's still just tears me inside to [00:23:10] know that that was something they did. They went into his, you know, resume. Without me and got all of his stuff and all of his things. And, you know, she [00:23:20] manipulated that whole situation and, you know, I never got that opportunity and she pretended like she was protecting me from that while in reality, you know, [00:23:30] she brought his 21 year old girlfriend, who, again, I adore her, but it was just such a weird and bizarre situation, which I've mentioned before.
[00:23:37] But. So she would just send me [00:23:40] these little pieces and I felt it was very manipulative. So I had all of this kind of like pent up and I'm telling my now husband on the way down, like I'm opening up about a lot of this stuff. [00:23:50] Cause I don't think he had seen any of the unboxings. Like I don't think I'd put him through any of those.
[00:23:54] They didn't get it. I don't think so. I don't think I wanted to think about [00:24:00] with that yet, but so the morning. My sister's graduation, we're driving into work. We [00:24:10] were driving separately and I ended up getting hit by a two-tone a truck. And I will tell you this right [00:24:20] now. I look back on this now because I have a whole different perspective now than I did right after my brother passed even two years in when I'm talking about right now.[00:24:30]
[00:24:31] That was, it was a terrible accident. Uh, I still have physical trauma. And if you guys follow me on social media, you see that I have, I get surgeries and [00:24:40] stuff done for it. I still have physical damage because of it. I truly believe that my brother is my guardian angel. I really do. I'm gonna get sentimental for a [00:24:50] moment.
[00:24:50] And. I hope that you have, you know, believe in God, universe, spirits, something, whatever you believe in a higher something. [00:25:00] But I do hope you believe your loved ones are with you because I think my brother really protected me that day. I really do because when I crawled [00:25:10] out of my car that day and then went to the hospital, It was scary to look at my car, but we ended up my husband after I was cleared or the hospital and stuff.
[00:25:19] [00:25:20] He drove me down to the graduation because I didn't want to miss it. I didn't want to miss my little baby graduating college. And I was in so much physical pain, [00:25:30] but I didn't realize how much emotional pain I was going to be in as well. So here's where it comes more trauma. I really [00:25:40] felt. Excluded from the family.
[00:25:42] And I went into it mentally prepared for that. You know, I I'm always going to be, I think, ganged [00:25:50] up on, you know, with my mother and her boyfriend and my sister and her husband. And that was okay. Like, you know, we went to the graduation and we [00:26:00] spend time with my sister, my youngest sister, and her husband.
[00:26:03] And. They came to our hotel and saw us and it was fine and we had drinks and that was good. [00:26:10] But then the graduation happened, we took pictures and we sat separately. Like, I didn't want to be a part of it, but we then went to dinner and we had reservations, like [00:26:20] all of us together that wasn't going to be weird.
[00:26:22] Right. But I did this for her. You have to do these things right. You have to, um, at least I felt compelled to, [00:26:30] and we. Um, you know, didn't I kept asking my sister, I'm like, okay, the reservations at this time, she's like, yes, I think it was like seven or [00:26:40] something normal. And she's like, but we're getting drinks early.
[00:26:42] I'll text you I'll let you know. And you know, time goes by and I'm sitting there and I'm on, you know, the anti-inflammatories and stuff. They give you at the hospital when [00:26:50] you're in this accident and you're injured. So we're just kind of waiting at this, you know, the hotel and said we're in Savannah. So we don't, it's not terrible.
[00:26:58] It's wonderful. [00:27:00] And my husband's parents live outside of Savannah, so we had actually left the dogs there. And so we went there the night of the accident, so I could be comfortable. [00:27:10] Just a lot. And now we're in our hotel and, you know, I was never, never notified, ever told. I was like, let's just go, let's go to the restaurant.
[00:27:18] And we get there. And, [00:27:20] you know, I introduce him to everybody, even though it's, I mean, imagine how weird and uncomfortable that was, but I just held my head [00:27:30] high because I know the pain that I had been through. It had been two over two years. At that point, since my brother had passed, I was fighting for his justice.
[00:27:39] I was fighting. [00:27:40] For myself, I was fighting for I, for our family. And so I had, I was not the one that had anything to be [00:27:50] ashamed about. And I knew that in my core, even in all the physical pain I was in at the moment and the emotional pain. And so I held my head high, [00:28:00] nothing hanging it low. Nothing at all.
[00:28:03] And I remember staring into my sister's eyes and I remember staring into my mother's eyes introducing my now [00:28:10] husband. And I think they were just in shock about the situation. I don't know. I'll never know, and I don't care, but. We went up to the bar after I did that [00:28:20] and got a drink. And my sister who's a year younger than me.
[00:28:25] Her husband came up to us and he's like jovial and friendly. And he's [00:28:30] like, how are you? And like, my it's so good to see you. And he was so excited to meet my now husband was so crazy and I'm like, I don't know if your wife would be so thrilled about this [00:28:40] right now. So it was interesting and the dinner was fine because we were kind of.
[00:28:45] Two separate ends. And we got to be with my youngest sister and her husband [00:28:50] and leaving the dinner is when it got weird. We all took a picture together where, you know, I'm a good sport with things like that, but it didn't have to end the way that it did because we [00:29:00] were in this private room. And as I was leaving George, my.
[00:29:04] Boyfriend blocks me from leaving the room. And he's like, we heard you were in a car [00:29:10] accident, are you okay? And I'm like, I'm standing here. Like I don't, yeah, I I'm alive. Like I'm injured, but I'm alive. Like, [00:29:20] please let me pass. And he's like, well, I just want to let you know, mind you, my mother is standing like two feet behind him.
[00:29:27] I just want to let you know that your mother loves you so much. [00:29:30] She misses you so much. This is so sad. And like, he just started rambling on and I went off you guys. I went off. I was like, you [00:29:40] know what? I was like, she's standing right over there. If she wants to choice words, talk to me, she can twist words and talk to me.
[00:29:49] She [00:29:50] can do it goodbye. And so I, the way I'm pretty sure. I know husband was like, oh my God, this is like cray, [00:30:00] cray. Yes, it was. But then, you know, my sister and her husband and, um, my husband and I, we, we took them out to a speakeasy and did a little swing [00:30:10] dancing. I did not, obviously I was sitting on. Uh, couch actually with my sister's, uh, husband a little bit at the time because, um, my now [00:30:20] husband was teaching her how to swing.
[00:30:21] Yeah. So they had a great time. We had a great ending to the trip, so ended on a really positive note, which was good. But I also had that feeling, leaving that, like, [00:30:30] it was so divided that I just didn't feel like I would have that with her again. And it was sad, but I did feel like I needed to be there. And it took a while for.[00:30:40]
[00:30:41] My now husband and I to talk about it because it was, it was trauma. And he's like, wow, there's, you know, when we did talk about it, [00:30:50] because he's not as open about these things as I am, obviously I'm on a podcast talking about it, but he realized how much there was to unpack there. And it was a [00:31:00] lot and he had a lot of empathy for me and I didn't, I didn't speak to any of them again until.
[00:31:07] Of 2019 and I get these [00:31:10] messages from my youngest sister and she's telling me, she's asking me if I'm going to be in town and I want to go to the [00:31:20] storage room. And my brother's stuff is in there. It's not just our stuff. There's some of my brother's stuff. I'll never know what's in there. What's not in there.
[00:31:27] Maybe I will. One day. I don't know. I hope [00:31:30] you got to keep hope, but you also can't stay stuck in that kind of, that kind of hope. Right. Right. Is what I feel. That's how I feel about it. [00:31:40] If there's things that have been taken from you, you have to stay hopeful about the things that, you know, For sure. Like, I can't control that my mother took all [00:31:50] those things and I don't, I don't know if I'll ever see him again.
[00:31:53] I have the things that I have, but like they're so much more meaningful. And my brother [00:32:00] is with me in spirit, and I know that and I have to have to hold onto that when I stepped back into that moment and share these things with you guys that I [00:32:10] never got to. Grab his favorite t-shirt or keep that. And so if you have those things, cherish them, cherish them so much because I didn't get those.
[00:32:19] And [00:32:20] it sucks. It really does. But when I got that text, I was like, oh my God. And I'm like, I remember telling my husband, I was like, we're just a couple months away from being married. So [00:32:30] I was like, oh my God. I was like, I, you know, maybe I can get some of this stuff. And so. Asking you some questions though, and realizing, wait a second, they've been orchestrating this trip [00:32:40] for a while and they're just telling me like that they're coming like in a day.
[00:32:44] So once again, I just felt like alone abandoned last minute. [00:32:50] And after that, that was the moment in those messages. In April of 2019, here we were, we were going into like year three that [00:33:00] I was just like, Wow. Like, I felt this so many times and I had told my husband has been, I was like, I didn't [00:33:10] just, I mean, I lost my brother physically and I lost him, but I mean, I'm really lost my whole like family and I really didn't know.
[00:33:18] I mean, a lot of it was my [00:33:20] choice to walk away from, from it, because it was so dysfunctional and I didn't have like these strong parental figures in the first place. It wasn't like they were mother and [00:33:30] father of the year or anything like that. But like, it really just kind of put the final nails in the coffin for four, it was like the final loss and it was lowered into the ground [00:33:40] and for your parents to just not choose you and just like be in you like that.
[00:33:45] It's a, it's a loss as well. And I really didn't realize that. And as [00:33:50] I've traveled down this journey of loss, there's people that have come to me and send me messages and they've listened to my story on social media. Cause I [00:34:00] didn't have this podcast yet and they reach out and they say, you know, I haven't lost someone to death, but let me share my loss story.
[00:34:07] And it resonated with me because I [00:34:10] have gone through more than just the loss of my brother. I've lost other people to. Death as well, but it was just very tough for me to [00:34:20] like, understand that. And I was like, and then it clicked with me. I was like, oh my God, I understand what you're going through, because that was the last two.
[00:34:26] I was just so focused on like a physical, like loss when [00:34:30] physically passing, you've gone through a loss as well. When you go through that and someone consciously choosing not to be, you know, someone in your [00:34:40] life. I realized that I picked to not be a part of the ecosystem, but those people picked to not treat you well.
[00:34:47] So, I mean, you have to [00:34:50] protect yourself at a certain point. You have to put the right people around you. And I realized this was all orchestrated. And so finally asked them, you know, I said, can you guys [00:35:00] call me? Like, let's have a conversation. Let's grow up. Like, this is my mother. Like let's have a conversation.
[00:35:05] And we did. And it was a very toxic one and they called it. And we were [00:35:10] sitting there in the old condo and my husband and I were sitting there. My now husband, I should say. And they were [00:35:20] after dinner, like, cause they had to call me back after dinner and. I remember you can just being like, guys, you know, what are you doing?
[00:35:28] And I remember my mom just being so [00:35:30] angry, she was very angry and I, you know, told her, I said, how long have you guys known this? Like, what are you doing? I was having so much anxiety. Cause I thought they were getting rid of all my [00:35:40] childhood stuff. And like, I didn't know, like what I was asking her about Andres, this stuff.
[00:35:45] I said, is there anything in there? Petraeus's like, I'd like to see it. Like, can I have any of it? Like [00:35:50] anything? And she's like, She loved it because it was like the last piece of control she had over me and she just went [00:36:00] off and I asked her, I said, look, I said, I can't physically just drop everything in a day.
[00:36:04] Like I have work. I have a career at this time I had taken on, I had just [00:36:10] transitioned into a new role. Right before I kind of stepped into entrepreneurship and I started working for an apparel company and I was over all of their sales domestically and internationally. [00:36:20] And so I was in a, you know, a new, big role.
[00:36:22] And I was like, I can't just like take off, like, had you guys told me I would have just put that date. Starting this new [00:36:30] role, like this is, and they didn't care of obviously like they were just like, no, and I've just let my mom have it. I was like, you know, this is ridiculous. I said, you're so disrespectful towards [00:36:40] me.
[00:36:40] And you know, she started screaming at me and my youngest sister joined the conversation and she started [00:36:50] screaming and saying, you know, you're so disrespectful to mom. And I mean, it was really. It was really brutal. And I had it on speaker phone and I let me know husband listened to it. And [00:37:00] my mother was, I don't even remember everything in detail what she said, but it was, you know, she was screaming that I was just such an angry person.
[00:37:08] I was a terrible person and [00:37:10] just all these things. And I finally fought back and I remember hanging up in a really bad place with her. And I just looked at him. I was [00:37:20] like, that was really. And in the conversation too, I had asked her, you know, if my now husband could come with me to the storage unit [00:37:30] to help me, cause I couldn't physically do this.
[00:37:31] I had been in a car accident, you know what? Not even six months prior, five months prior, she was like, no, absolutely not. You can't bring anybody. [00:37:40] What? It was weird. It was so bizarre. Control, control, stay away from people that just want to control everything all the time. It's just, oh, [00:37:50] and. People who want to control everything all the time means that their life is out of control.
[00:37:55] Just a side note for you as you're grieving. Um, if they want to control your grief, [00:38:00] if they want to control how you grieve, if they want to control, I had to learn that that was a big thing for me. And that took me years. And even in that moment, I don't think I realized I was going [00:38:10] on year three. I don't think I was fully conceptualizing or realizing that the reason.
[00:38:17] She was trying to control my grief. She was trying to control who could [00:38:20] have access to her and her life and all of these things. And this was my future husband. This is when she hadn't actually matched. She had met him. I mean, [00:38:30] it was just weird. Um, it means their life is out of control and they're not dealing with their own stuff.
[00:38:37] That's what's going on there. [00:38:40] And I would just add that in there, but I knew at that point I was like, I don't know when all the. Speak to any of these people ever again. And I [00:38:50] had to sit there and this anxiety just going, oh my God. Like I had no idea at that point. You guys, if I would, if she sold all my childhood stuff, [00:39:00] if Andrea's even had any of his things in there anymore, I didn't have a clue.
[00:39:05] I didn't know. I even offered to pay for storage. It [00:39:10] didn't matter. I had to play on her, her terms, her rules. And I'm sure a lot of it was, you know, the feeling of rejection as well, but it's just not how you treat it on her. And it's not how [00:39:20] you treat someone when you're, when you're grieving. But I have a deeper understanding of that now.
[00:39:24] And I hope that helps you guys when you're going through your grief journey. Because again, when someone's out of control [00:39:30] and they're not going on their own grief journey, they're going to try to control you. And they're going to, going to try to control urinary to have and how things go. And like, that's just, it's [00:39:40] not right, but it's what happens.
[00:39:42] And I find now that I understand it, I can accept it. And it doesn't mean that it's right, but I can [00:39:50] center myself enough to know, okay. You know what? That person's life is really out of control. So that's not about me. That's about them. So that was really tough. [00:40:00] That was tough. And you know, I had to remember that I was in a much better place.
[00:40:07] Now. I want to go back. I actually forgot to talk [00:40:10] about this because it was interesting to think back. I knew I wasn't going to talk to my family for a long time. I didn't know if Everett. And I knew I was still, like, I [00:40:20] was starting to feel refreshed again and I was fighting the good fight again with my brother.
[00:40:24] I was starting to look for new private investigators. I was trying to call the detective, like [00:40:30] his phone was out of like service at this point. Like it was like non-existent inbox full, like would no longer, like, it didn't even like exist anymore. I was trying to [00:40:40] find out like who I could talk to. I started writing to local representatives.
[00:40:46] I started talking again to new private investigators. It [00:40:50] was so challenging, but I want to go back to Thanksgiving and then the dynamic with the graduation, because what was so beautiful, I think in what kind of set the [00:41:00] Thanksgiving up and meeting my husband's family for more success was the fact that.
[00:41:09] Skimming. We [00:41:10] took up my now husband knew how important it was for me to go to where my brother's ashes are. And this is another piece of [00:41:20] advice that I would give you. I'm feeling like very giving advice here. And I'm by no means like a counselor, but this is just [00:41:30] like, as my grieving journey went on, all I can tell you from the beginning of my journey is like what happened?
[00:41:35] And all I can tell you kind of at, you know, through the stories, like the [00:41:40] evolution and like what I found out. What ends up happening, but this part of the journey, I can tell you what worked and what helped me and what didn't help me and [00:41:50] what didn't help me as obviously, these horrible conversations with my family, the people that didn't support me and like, but then also starting, what did help me is starting to understand [00:42:00] why they treated me that way and getting some answers to that and didn't understand right away why that.
[00:42:07] Helped me. I didn't understand why [00:42:10] understanding the control thing helped me in getting those answers, but I would eventually, and I will share that with you, but to go back to the Thanksgiving and then looking at the graduation [00:42:20] versus that. And I have no regrets by the way, with the graduation I'm I would kick myself in the butt if I missed that.
[00:42:25] Because again, she's like, not just my sister, she's like a daughter to [00:42:30] me. I helped my mother raise her because my dad wasn't around and. Right before Thanksgiving was the, it always says it's around that time, [00:42:40] right? It just depends because Thanksgiving is always on the Thursday. It doesn't matter if the date, but it was like a Tuesday or something.
[00:42:45] I think that year was the anniversary of my brother's death [00:42:50] and my okay. Made sure that he was there for me that day. And we took the dogs and we went down to the Creek where his ashes are and [00:43:00] we brought the champagne and we brought the sunflowers and we put them in the Creek and we put a little bit champagne in the Creek and we drank champagne and we do that every year.
[00:43:09] And. [00:43:10] The very first year I did that with my friend, Michael, and I'm so grateful for him. He lost his mother when he was very young and he [00:43:20] understood my journey in a different way as well. And she's actually, um, her ashes are buried in the water and the UK is [00:43:30] from the UK. So he got that. So he was there the first year.
[00:43:32] And then my husband has been with me ever since. And then, uh, when you have done it by myself, I wanted to do it by myself. [00:43:40] It was an evolution. So that was something that was huge for me and really showed me that [00:43:50] he wanted to understand it and be a part of it. And I think that looking back on that too, that probably sets the Thanksgiving.
[00:43:59] Uh, [00:44:00] for a little bit more success to honoring my brother and making him a part of that. So I wanted to make sure that I brought that up too, and I think rituals [00:44:10] and, and just honoring the person and keeping them on live on the physical side for us. So important as a surviving sibling. [00:44:20] I think it is in a positive way.
[00:44:23] And so I love seeing when people, you know, do the things that I've I've done or do cool things that I haven't done. [00:44:30] You know, I love seeing when people get tattoos like me and do the little rituals, like I do like go to the place where his ashes are and I do the flowers for him. I do as many [00:44:40] sunflowers as they, the, as he's passed.
[00:44:42] And I do champagne. My brother loved some champs. He was always popping some bottles, so I've have a bottle for him. [00:44:50] And I think it's really important. And I go there. I think about him and I laugh a little bit. I cry a lot. I feel him with me [00:45:00] there. It's very spiritual and. To share that moment with someone is huge.
[00:45:04] And so I definitely wanted to share that with, with all of you. And if you follow me on social media, I do, [00:45:10] you know, share those moments. I'm not afraid. I'm unfiltered. I share those moments and it took me some time to get there. But I share that and I'll [00:45:20] be sharing that with you because I have my private moments, but I share it.
[00:45:25] So I hope you guys have those things. And if you don't have those things, make those things for [00:45:30] yourself, it helps. But I knew after that April call, I was, I was hurt. I was really hurt, but I also knew, okay, you know what? [00:45:40] I've got the strength to push on. And I did, and I got really tired again, because here I was looking for more private investigators.
[00:45:49] This [00:45:50] dirty detective was nowhere to be found and I was really losing hope guys. I was losing hope. [00:46:00] That you know, this guy who shot my brother, again, trigger warning here. If this talking about this is upsetting to you, you know, [00:46:10] you can skip this part or. Take a breather before, but you know, the man who literally shot my brother in the face and walked [00:46:20] away is walking the streets and I'm getting, you know, I'd been getting cryptic messages for years and I'm the only one living in Atlanta.
[00:46:27] I'm the only one here. God only knows if [00:46:30] he knows where I live. It was scary. I was living in fear and a lot of. To be even more raw with you if I can get even more [00:46:40] wrong, but I want to be such an open book for, for everyone listening, because I think it's important that we have a voice as surviving siblings and your story.[00:46:50]
[00:46:50] No two stories are the same and your sibling may have passed completely different than mine. But I think it's important for you to [00:47:00] know that I was scared. I was. I had fear. I had heard I had pain. I had so many things that I had zero support from my family, and I had to [00:47:10] create my support system. And I remember going through the summer of 2019 feeling, I was really consumed with work because [00:47:20] this job I had was just, it was a lot and there was a lot going on with that job.
[00:47:25] It was even, it was dysfunctional. Um, but. [00:47:30] I was also working through a lot of emotions. I was in this relationship that was getting very serious. Obviously we're not married. And I was thinking about that too. And I was also thinking about the [00:47:40] fact that, you know, I had failed my brother. That's where I was mentally.
[00:47:44] I was feeling like I had failed. My brother. I had gotten to a certain client [00:47:50] I'd found out enough evidence. Knew who this guy was, couldn't get enough information to nail him. I couldn't figure out enough information from these people [00:48:00] because they were scared. They all knew he was a bad person. I was confused as to why my brother, you know, trusted this guy enough.
[00:48:07] But at the same point, I knew my [00:48:10] brother enough to know that he wasn't perfect. He definitely had so many flaws. He definitely struggled with drugs and alcohol. When. [00:48:20] He, he just did. And he was in pain on, in this physical world. He was from a lot of things, but he was a really good person. [00:48:30] And one of the things about him was he always saw the good in other people and he always wanted to believe the best in people.
[00:48:38] And he wanted to believe the [00:48:40] best in people that were not good people. And I knew that, and that. Kept me kind of in 2019, I was in a [00:48:50] state of kind of, I was allowing myself to feel, you know, I wasn't on these high doses of these medications anymore or anything like that. [00:49:00] And I still, you know, I still took a low dose anti-depressant I still take one.
[00:49:07] I think it's so important, you know, that we [00:49:10] talk about this and we make this normal and keep this open. I think, I think I will be on one for a while. Maybe. How about B? I don't know. I think it's [00:49:20] okay to talk about it, but it makes me feel normal and like myself and that's where I was then. And that's no, we'll continue to talk about where I am now [00:49:30] and we'll continue to talk because this is a journey.
[00:49:36] I was in a state of [00:49:40] beating myself up at that point. I was like, I failed, I have failed. It failed myself. I felt my brother. I have failed. [00:49:50] Perhaps other people, because what if this guy has done this other people, because I had heard in those cryptic messages and [00:50:00] some calls, you know, that he had done some terrible things to other people and gotten away with it because technically this guy from what I knew didn't have this record.
[00:50:09] So [00:50:10] he had gotten away with these things. And just because someone doesn't have a record doesn't mean that they haven't done this. I think we all know that I think we've all watched enough of these murder mystery, like [00:50:20] shows and like, it's really, you know, we've watched enough snapped and things like that to know, just because somebody doesn't have a record does not mean that they [00:50:30] have not done that things.
[00:50:31] And we also know the opposite is true too, just because somebody has done something bad. Doesn't mean they're a bad person because my brother, you know, he made mistakes in his [00:50:40] life. He did, but he didn't kill anybody and walk away. And not take responsibility. And that's where I was really [00:50:50] struggling. And I felt like I failed it.
[00:50:52] And so it was, it was a challenging year for me because I was like, where do I go from here? [00:51:00] And my now husband proposed, and I didn't want. Ever want like a big wedding that wasn't who I [00:51:10] was or anything like that. And I always wanted my brother to like, walk me down the aisle if I did. And so we kind of just, we knew like I have a thing with the number [00:51:20] eight because it's infinity and it means forever.
[00:51:22] And it's like a good comical thing. And so we, uh, got married like a month after we got engaged, like [00:51:30] basically a year after we got, uh, we started dating and. We just went to the courthouse and had this beautiful day and it was just [00:51:40] us and it was special. And we only called his parents and let them know.
[00:51:45] And then we blasted it on social media after we had the data ourselves and [00:51:50] then it hit me. I think it was like that night or the next day I remembered the dream and I'm going to get really choked up. Oh, [00:52:00] I remember the dream that I had had. I shared with my mom in the hospital that I had had in my twenties about the past, my brother was past like, [00:52:10] it was this whole flash of a dream about the green civic that he would have when he was young, which he ended up having, he ended up getting this.
[00:52:19] It was like [00:52:20] way earlier in my twenties. I had this dream and I talked about this in earlier episodes. He ended up getting that car. That was the car that he had now he passed. But when he was younger, I dreamed [00:52:30] about that card. I dreamed about the place that he lived. I dreamed about my father coming in town and my father and I having a good relationship and talking about, and my father, the death, and my father [00:52:40] being the one there for me, all these things had come true.
[00:52:43] The last thing in the dream, there were a couple of other things. I'm sure details that I'm missing. But the last thing in the dream was this courthouse. [00:52:50] And my brother was rushing me to the courthouse and there was a white dress in this. I was getting married. I like get choked up talking about it. [00:53:00] So my brother was there with me that day.
[00:53:03] I know that, and I couldn't believe that, but I remember we counting the dream to my mother and she was really helped listening to me [00:53:10] that day at the hospital, but I was worried about everything else. And he was right about how I got married too. And so he was with me that day and I [00:53:20] know I made the right choice, but how I got married.
[00:53:22] And so they gave me. Some, some, I guess, peace about [00:53:30] that year, but that was a challenging year because that was the year that I was not forgiving [00:53:40] myself. And I was not easy on myself or giving myself grace. And it was being so tough on myself because I thought I had to solve all of this, figured this out, [00:53:50] all on my own.
[00:53:52] And I thought I failed. But I was so happy to remember that dream. I'm glad it [00:54:00] came to me. And I realized that that memory, that part of that dream came back to me at the right time, because I needed to [00:54:10] give myself a little bit of grace in that moment because the journey wasn't.
[00:54:18] Thank you so much for [00:54:20] 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 [00:54:30] platform. And don't forget to tag us at surviving siblings podcast so that more surviving siblings can find us, remember to rate, review, and [00:54:40] subscribe to the podcast.
[00:54:42] And don't forget to follow us on all social media. We're on Instagram, Twitter, and tech talk at [00:54:50] 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 [00:55:00] episode, keep on surviving my surviving siblings.[00:55:10] .