In September, I lost my precious brother Jim. He had the heart of a servant, the regal pluck of a knight, and the charm of a child. And after a brief bout of severe depression, he died by suicide.
I've not known a world without him. He was eight years old when I was born. Until my husband came along, Jim was my protector, my second dad, my best friend. He drove me to college and came whenever I needed help moving or celebrating my birthdays. He embraced my friends, taught me to drive, and showed me how to give from the heart and extend grace.
Jim was easy to love. He was burly and tough, sensitive and soft-hearted. In love with life, he shrank back from nothing. He chased the horizon, ever in competition with himself. Excitement was his lifeblood. As a child I looked up at my brother and thought, "I want to be like him."
When his children were young, my husband and I visited Jim at his office. Lining the wall behind him was a raft of pictures. I paused, thinking at first that they were images of several different kids. But they were snapshots of the same two boys, his sons.
A battle lost
Marital strife and emotional abuse had triggered his depression. When he first told me, I was surprised. Married for almost 24 years to his high-school sweetheart, he enjoyed a loyal group of friends, managed his own business, and doted on his sons. But as his life as he knew it dissolved, Jim's sense of self-worth went with it.1