I have fought and fought with myself about writing this post, because for some stupid reason, it brings finality, which is why I haven’t written for a while. Something has been tugging at my heart for a few days telling me to write this down, instead of continuing this endless war between my heart and my brain…I submit…here it goes.
My brother David was born when I was 15 years old. He was the love of my life the first moment I held him. Hell I even got to name him! We had a close connection from that moment on, one that even could be described as a parent to son relationship. I’ve been there for him through staples in the back of his head at 2 from a fall, broken arm at 7 from the playground, his mother’s alcohol addiction and verbal abuse, getting arrested, drug addiction, going into Army AIT boot camp and watching him graduate from Ft. Benning. We FB messaged while he was deployed into Iraq, sometimes during our chat we’d lose connection, and he’d come back telling me “Sorry sis, mortars flying over head”. (oh how I hated that) He was the first man in to clear a dwelling, he saved a brother when their Humvee blew up from an IED, he was respected and known as “The toughest mother fucker to have ever served”. When he honorably discharged from the Army, life became more difficult for him than I can really describe, unless you’re a Veteran that saw this type of combat, you know what I mean.
Upon going back home to dad’s house up in the mountains, he bought a new car, entered college and started dating. That’s when the first signs of PTSD started to surface. Excessive anger, nightmares, hated public places, loud noises and started taking narcotics to ease his pain. This all started in 2011.
By 2013 he was so heavily into narcotics he dropped out of college, totaled his car and broke up with his girl friend. Stealing from family, friends and strangers to pawn items for money to buy his next fix. Finally, my dad got him to listen to him about going into rehabilitation. He entered a VA rehab and succeeded beautifully, was there for 6 months and was discharged and went back home to dad’s.
By March of 2014 he was using again and in serious legal trouble. Judge had mercy on him, sent him back to the VA for inpatient care again in September 2015. Then his mom died from an alcohol related infection September 29th. He left rehab for her funeral and to help dad; which caused him to start using again. At this point for not returning back to rehab he had a warrant out for his arrest. On December 4, 2015 dad found him on the front porch early that morning (Below freezing temps) not breathing and no pulse. He pulled him into the house, dialed 911 and started doing CPR on him. It appeared that David OD’d and the cold temps actually saved his life, along with dad’s quick actions. Only spent 3 days in the hospital, they discharged him and back out he went again to use. I was beyond furious with him and my dad. Dad knew of the warrant and refused to help the police catch up to him. The one thing I will not do is love an addict to death, I will not be that co-dependent person. The week before Christmas I had talked to my dad and he told me that David was home sleeping. I called the sheriff’s office and sent them up there to arrest him. I would rather see him in jail than overdose again, no one in my family knew I did this. They still don’t.
David got to spend Christmas 2015 in jail, the sheriff’s office coordinated transportation and got him back up to the VA rehab for a minimum 6 month treatment program. This time…something clicked! Right away I mailed him a bible, pictures of his nephews, letters of encouragement and brought him back to Jesus. He finally…FINALLY wanted to live! Praise God! During the next 6 months he and I spoke regularly about PTSD. We could share our stories with each other, our fears, our anger, our lessons….everything. Brought us closer than I could ever explain.
At the end of June 2016 he felt he needed to be back with our dad. He was scared for dad being alone in that big house up in the mountains, he was going to get a VA loan to buy the house to take the pressure off dad, he had been approved for 100% Veteran disability and was on a mission. Until July 2nd.
Dad lives in a very remote area, his property backs up to Bureau of Land Management land and the first stop light is an hour away. Fireworks were David’s enemy after the Army. Apparently a local had been shooting off M-80’s while my dad was away from home and my brother had a major flashback. Prior to this incident, David would have these flashbacks that brought him to a level of a total psychotic break. He would see enemy soldiers in the tree’s of dad’s property, grab his weapons and take off after them. He would be missing for days, making “camp” here and there and live off the land. After about 4 days he would come back home, once he felt safe and knew where he was.
Dad came home the night of July 2nd, thinking David was asleep, because his truck was in the driveway and keys on the hook. The next morning when David hadn’t come out of his room yet, dad went in and realized David was missing. He didn’t think much of it, or he didn’t want to think much into it, his initial fear was that David was using again. Therefore, dad didn’t tell me that David was missing until day 2. I encouraged him to call the sheriff’s office, but he was afraid to, because of all the trouble David had been in before. I couldn’t accept this answer nor did it make sense to me. David and I had just talked on the phone on June 25th, I know him and I know if he’s not well. Then my neighbor set off a bottle rocket….and it hit me! I didn’t call my dad, I called the sheriff’s office and spoke with a deputy. My fear was that he was in another PTSD psychotic break and back in the tree’s and BLM land, it being a holiday weekend meant there would be hikers back there. I was afraid if he was back there and thought a hiker was an enemy soldier, he would kill an innocent person. The deputy listened to me, told me he would first contact some of my brother’s friends to see if they had seen him. Little did I know, the deputy was calling David’s old druggie friends, and spoke with one of them. This low life piece of shit, thinking my brother was in trouble, told the deputy that David was with him and didn’t want to talk to him. Deputy called me back and informed me of this information. Told me that his “informant” doesn’t lie to him, apologized in a very cocky way and that was it.
July 3rd in the evening, I pulled a STUPID! I tried to jump up with a butterfly net and catch a dragonfly for my 2-year-old. I came back down and blew out my left ankle. The pain was so extreme that I couldn’t breathe and ended up in the ER that night. Why is this in the story you ask….just wait.
July 7 at 6:06 pm my sister called me to tell me they found my brother’s body. A hiker that was back on the BLM land came up on his body and called for help. The sheriff was “pretty certain” that it was David, but we had to wait for an autopsy for further identification.
It felt as if the universe cracked.
Made arrangements to go with my sister since I couldn’t drive due to my ankle. The next day after arriving and trying to take care of dad and all the massive chaos at his house, I had a friend drive me to the sheriff’s office and to stop at the coroner’s office. I spoke with the coroner and was able to provide him information of David’s known scars and missing teeth. He had me wait for a second and brought out some car keys, and asked, “Are these your brother’s keys?” They were. I asked for a complete autopsy, including drug screening. I then proceeded to the sheriff’s office. This time I demanded the Sheriff and no fucking deputy. I confirmed to him that it was my brother’s body and I expected a further investigation to be done at my dad’s home and the property.
Here’s what ultimately happened:
David apparently had a PTSD psychotic break on July 2nd from the M-80’s set off by a neighbor, verified they were set off about 6pm by another neighbor. He grabbed his .45, buoy knife and machete. Then around 5pm the next day it appeared he tried to climb a 50 foot cliff, that would have taken him to an area where he would have had a 360 degree view of the valley with areas for shelter and recon. they found his buoy knife jammed into the cliff 30 feet up. David must have fallen from that point and blew out his left ankle. The open compound fracture he endured lacerated his artery and he started to bleed out. Due to the amount of blood they found at the base of the cliff, and the trail to the location of his body, he was in dire straights. He did not have his phone. He cut his t-shirt off and tied a tourniquet, but it wasn’t enough. He made a series of gun shots in 3’s, “soldier in distress”, which was reported at 5:30 pm by a Marine Veteran from other side of the valley, which went unattended to by the sheriff’s office. He bled out and died leaning against a tree stump in about 45 minutes. Due to the extremely hot weather conditions, his body was unidentifiable. No drugs were found in his tissues nor system. He did not shoot himself. Cause of death was exsanguination. When they located his body per the hikers report, his gun was laid by his side all rounds spent and his machete on the other side of him. No wild animals disturbed his body, which is amazing, as the area is full of bear and mountain lion.
On July 3rd, based on times given, David blew out his ankle at about 5:30 pm. I blew mine out at about the same time. Explain that to me.
I can’t write any more on this right now, I knew this was going to be hard to write, and I’m fucking cooked. I’m shaking, crying and need a break. This isn’t the end of the story; a little more drama unfolded, more heartache and challenges; and through my amazing brother’s death so much beauty came out of it.
The above picture is of my brother.