Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Right Answer

Today I had an interview.

During the interview, I was asked "Do you have any siblings?" The question came out of no where and my mind began scrambling. It was a sense of panic. I couldn't formulate what I was going to say so I just began talking. I said, "Yes, I have three older brothers and a younger sister. We have a really great family. My oldest brother lives in Miami. My next oldest brother lives with his wife and daughters in Iowa, and my next oldest brother is David. David passed away just over a month ago."

That's where I stopped.

She interjected, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that. What happened?"

This is only the second time I've been asked this question by someone who didn't know.

The first time I was at a memorial mass and I simply said, "He battled depression." I said this while holding his candle and with tears running down my face. She immediately understood, asked his name, and told me she would keep him and my family in her prayers.

Tonight was different, when she asked "What happened?" I replied without a thought.

"He was in a car accident."

She said, "Oh, no! Was it at night?"

I said, "Yes, he lived in Minneapolis. The other driver was okay but my brother died."

I said this without thinking and I felt sad as the words came out of my mouth. Maybe I said them because I wanted to know if they would feel better. Would it feel any less sad if I lost David to a sudden car accident? Would it be any easier to say?

The answer is no. This lie rattled out and it felt worse than the truth.

Since David's passing, I have taken a vow to talk about it. Maybe if I share the truth, someone else will know it's okay for them to share theirs. If we don't start talking about it now, when will we? It will never be easy, but it will be the truth and that makes it right.

I feel guilty for my lie, but more than that, I feel sorry that David's gone. I miss him every day.

I am sad that people who didn't know David won't get to know him. I'm sad that his illness, just that one part of him, now defines his death and to those who didn't know him, somehow his life, too. David was so much more.

I think the right answer might be to add one sentence, "David is gone. David battled depression. He was an incredible person who I strive to be like everyday." 

I hope then they'll ask what he was like because that's a question I would love to answer.

***I decided to write her an email tomorrow explaining what happened when she asked about my siblings. I know that she will understand.


  1. Hi Anna. I read every post on here and am incredibly moved by them, but this one especially so. I don't know what I would have done in your shoes, but I can tell you that committing yourself to talking about these painful things is far easier than actually talking about them. And I know that discussing things like suicide and mental illness online can be much easier than saying certain words out loud. That is a further step of showing our vulnerability as human beings. Don't beat yourself up over this; you are so brave to be trying to discuss these things at all, and it is not easy. Hopefully your comfort with being able to talk about David's death will come with time, as you continue to share stories of his life.

    Love Monica

  2. I wrote you an msn on fb, please check the spam.