Sometimes a death in the family brings out the worst in people! The events of this are close to being unbelievable! Yet, here we are, living it!
Has it really only been one month since January ended?! It feels sooooo much longer! I haven’t been getting the posts up as consistently as I previously had been doing and wanted to update you on why. (At least, one of the major reasons why. I wish this were the only difficulty!)
End of January
At the end of January, my husband got a call from his brother’s best friend. My husband’s brother, Mike, lives in another state, 11 hours away. This friend informed him that Mike had unexpectedly passed away 2 days prior to the phone call. It took them a while to find Mike’s phone and my husband’s number.
Mike would have been 51 years old 6 days after his passing. While Mike didn’t have the best health, it was quite the blow. He had many health problems and didn’t take very good care of himself. We always felt he would not live to be very old, but this was too soon.
All artwork I have posted here of Mike’s is copyrighted, do NOT use.
Typically, when someone passes away arrangements are made for their resting place. We have always known that would be up to us. Mike had nothing to do with most of the family. He still called his dad once in a while, but they didn’t have much of a relationship. The only sibling he was in touch with was my husband. Everyone else had disowned him and had nothing to do with him and he was very angry toward all of them, especially his mother.
Mike often said that my husband was more like his father, to him, than his little brother. He would talk to him for hours, give him spiritual counsel, remind him to pray, give him money here and there when he needed it, and tell him he loved him.
We knew Mike wanted to be cremated and his friends had a place they wanted to take the ashes. Mike’s friends were his family as much as we were. We felt that it is what Mike wanted and gave them our blessing to honor Mike and give him a resting place.
Things didn’t go smoothly!
So, if we didn’t tell anyone, few in the family would have known about his death. That feels tragic. People needed to know that he was no longer with us. My husband kept saying, “A mother deserves to know when her son dies.”
My husband’s relationship with his mother isn’t any better than Mike’s was with her. Trying to track her down and inform her proved to be difficult. We were finally able to reach her through the younger brother.
This part of the family: mother, brother, half brothers, half sister, step-family etc. haven’t had anything to do with Mike for the past 15-20 years! Now that he has passed, they wanted his stuff and ashes. Not only that, but they told us they wouldn’t be comfortable coming to a memorial for him with us, and so they were going to do their own. Oh, and we were not invited to come to their memorial! (Sounds like a given, but they made it clear that they wanted nothing to do with us in remembering Mike.)
Why so much disharmony?
Mike, my husband and their little brother were adopted by their step-father when they were 10-12 years old. Their father mistakenly thought that they would be better off with their mother and step-father than with him. However, later in life Mike, my husband and I changed our name back to their father’s name.
Riddled with abuse
The step-father was a horrible tyrant, to put it nicely. He was controlling, angry, mean, and completely abusive in every way! Mike got the brunt of all of the abuse. He was a good big brother and did what he could to protect his little brothers. Yet, the family still calls these beatings spankings. Where I come from, a spanking doesn’t leave welts and bruises, nor does it cause bleeding.
I have heard the stories (many times) and witnessed the ongoing pain and struggles caused by the abuse they suffered. It boggles my mind that so many in the family still brush it off, as if it was no big thing! They pretend like it was normal and okay. His family won’t talk about it, they won’t recognize it, and those responsible would never take responsibility.
“I Don’t Love You Anymore”
Can you imagine having your parent say that to you? I have seen it twice. My husband was told this by his mother, the day our daughter was born 26 years ago, when he called to tell her she was a grandmother. She told him she might love him again, if he turned back into the person he used to be: compliant, obedient, does everything they want, etc. (His infractions: worked a summer in another state, bought a computer, married a girl, me, who wasn’t on the approved dating and marrying list, and the list could continue for a long time!) Basically, they wanted to continue to control his life.
The second time was when I read Mike’s writings (after his death). She told him she didn’t love him anymore and said she would love him again under the same conditions she gave my husband.
There’s soooo much more!
Mike was very fractured from all of the abuse. He was gay, transvestite, anorexic, and diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. Life wasn’t what anyone would consider normal, in anyway. Long periods of depression haunted him. His health suffered.
The biggest shining ray in his life were his friends. Mike had great friends! They were always there for him and they loved him so much!
His friends were his family. He had the same boyfriend for almost 20 years. The boyfriend’s family loved him dearly! His neighbors became his friends, years ago, and he was there for their wedding and the birth of their 3 children.
Everyone, we talked to said: “Mike was easy to love! He had a big heart!”
Because of all the mental health issues Mike was in government programs. There was a lot of paperwork, lack of communication and cooperation with the government, hospital and mortuary. It took way longer than it should have to put him to rest!
So, the memorial was last weekend. The beginning of March! He passed away, clear back at the end of January! I find it ridiculous that it has taken so long!
When Mike went to the hospital, the bathroom fan was left on and ran for nearly two weeks straight. (He lived alone. No one was there to turn it off and his friends are no longer his neighbors.) His friends were meeting at the apartment (waiting for one another, outside) to collect some of his artwork and other sentimental items. Then, they saw the smoke coming out of his apartment.
The fire department was called. They grabbed a few things (like childhood pictures). Mike had stapled his work to the walls and it was hard to remove. They didn’t get much. Then, the apartment manager came and when he heard about Mike’s death he demanded all the keys and wouldn’t let them back into the apartment. From what they could tell, nothing survived very well. Fire, smoke and water damage to the whole apartment.
Thankfully, Mike uploaded all of his art to this site: https://michael420le420mmon.deviantart.com/gallery
He also uploaded some of his art and writings here, but read at your own risk. He is blunt and angry and uses very colorful language. http://420michael420.simplesite.com/420645873
The next task, after the memorial was to inform the younger brother, that nothing was left to give to him. This, of course, resulted in a scathing text from the youngest brother to my husband.
Really, how can you complain and be upset when you were never involved! How sentimental can it be when he wouldn’t even talk to Mike?!
The out of touch family doesn’t understand his mental health issues. Many of the childhood pictures are cut up. People who had cut him out of their lives were cut out of the photos. A painting Mike had, that his mom had painted, was cut into many pieces and only the frame was left. His art wasn’t taken care of in a way that could be well preserved and removed.
Death is hard on the living
Death is hard. It is hard to see someone’s life end. Mike had a hard life. Never was it easy for him, yet he often smiled and laughed.
For us, it was mourning his passing. Listening to my husband’s heart wrenching sobs. Wishing he could have and would have done something more for Mike when he was alive. (It was always hard, having him live so far away.) Working with his friends and trying to make arrangements for cremation. Gathering money for the arrangements from those willing and those from whom Mike would have accepted help. Figuring out the best way to remember the bright character that he was. (His friend described him as a walking highlighter.)
Notifying family and dealing with the rest of the family was the most stressful, difficult part of this whole experience. That is really saying something considering the fiasco we went through with the government program, hospital and mortuary! Unfortunately, there is probably more family fall-out (issues, problems, etc.) to come!
Reminds Me Of Mike
So, shortly before Mike’s death we saw “The Greatest Showman”. The day after his passing I woke up with the words from “This Is Me” running through my mind: “I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me. Look out ’cause here I come, and I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared, to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me.”
We didn’t agree on everything and our lifestyles and beliefs were very different from one another, but we loved him and he loved us. He especially loved his younger brother. In Mike’s last moments, he made a heart shape with his hands, and kept mouthing my husband’s name. He wanted to make sure his brother knew how much he loved him!