My brother Nick’s favorite flowers were yellow tulips. I used to tease him about flowers not being manly. He just shrugged. My backyard is filled with yellow tulips, going miles back. There are two rows of them, a pathway in the middle to walk through. Every day I water and tend to them. I think part of me feels that maybe if I continue to take care of them, then maybe my brother will come walking through the pathway again.
Rain was falling outside. It was right in the middle of light and heavy rain. I was sitting at lunch, and my chemistry teacher comes up to me. She asks if I’ve seen my brother, he was supposed to take a test during lunch. I shook my head. He had come with me to school today, but I figured that maybe he skipped. I texted him, asking him if he was at home. Ten minutes go by and no response. I didn’t think anything of it. Maybe he was in the shower, or maybe he was sleeping. My day went on,no response from Nick. I made my way down to my last class. Kent Stramos stops me in the middle of the hallway. “Where is your fag of a brother?”
I shrugged, not even standing up for my brother. Ever since freshman year, Nick had been bullied. He always shrugged it off and said he was fine. Looking back now, I wish I would have paid more attention. Every day Nick got yelled at, and shoved by these people. As his sister, I should have done something. But I didn’t, I was too worried about my reputation. In the middle of my class, Nick called. I ignored it because I didn’t want to get in trouble. He continued to call. Annoyed, I get excused to go to the bathroom. I called my brother, ready to explode. “Jen, I- can you come home? Please,” his voice cracks.
“Nick seriously? I have to go, I’ll see you later,” I hang up.
Looking back now, I wish I would have been able to hear his voice breaking on the phone. The tears that were probably running down his face. Why didn’t I care? How could I not see or feel his pain? After the call, my teacher gave me a detention for my phone disrupting the class. I was so angry at Nick for getting me a detention. A stupid detention. I should have been mad at myself, for not going home to check on Nick. If I would have went home I could have saved him. He could still be here. But how could I have known that Nick was about to do something awful and life changing? Yet I continue to punish and torture myself every day since that day because I should have known.
The school day eventually ended, and I made my way home. Nothing looked unusual when I entered the driveway. But there was something off; however, I didn’t notice it then. Who would notice something as little as a rope being gone? You can see something every day, but then not notice when it’s gone. The rope was tied around the basketball hoop in our driveway, I pass this hoop every day to enter my house. How did I not notice it being gone?
I entered the house to silence. No music, no TV sounds, nothing. Anger was still boiling inside me because of the detention. I was ready to scream at my brother. “Nick!” I yelled, slamming my backpack at the wall. I entered the living room, expecting him to be there playing video games or watching TV. But all I found was more silence.
“Nick, where are you?” I yelled.
I kicked his bedroom door open. The smell of boy and silence filled the room. Where was he? I ran out of his room, calling his name over and over again. No response. I then called his cell phone, maybe he left the house. That theory died when I heard his phone ring. My feet ran towards the sound of his phone, but came to a dead end when I only found the phone and not Nick. That’s when I realized something was very wrong. Nick would never go anywhere without his phone, it was his only source of life. His phone sat on the first step that went towards the basement.
“Nick, come on this isn’t funny. Stop playing games.” My voice echoed against the wall as I made my way into the basement.
The sight I saw next was horrific. My mind still can’t process what fully happened, just bits and pieces. I entered the basement and found Nick hanging from the ceiling with the rope from the basketball hoop tied around his neck. His face was grey and lifeless. After that, everything's a blur. I remember running to him, I remember calling 911, but I can’t remember what my thoughts were or what my feelings were. Did I even take time to breathe? Time became frozen and I couldn’t move. The paramedics came, following my parents. The sound of my mother calling for Nick will forever be ingrained in my brain. “Nick, my baby what have you done?” she cried and fell into my father’s arms.
Time seemed to flash before my eyes after that. Nick was pronounced dead and taken away. His funeral came and went; all of the “sorry for your losses “from people went in and out of my ears. They would never know how it felt. How it felt, knowing that I might have been able to save Nick. He didn’t even leave a note. What hurts the most is that I can’t even remember the last kind thing I said to him. Or the last time I told him I loved him, or the last time I hugged him. What were his last thoughts? His last words?
It’s been two months since that day, and I miss him so much. It’s amazing how much your love and sense of worth goes up when a loved one dies. One day their here and the next they're gone, and your whole world crashes down slowly and then all at once. I haven’t forgiven myself; I don’t know if I ever will. Right now, I’m just trying to focus on the now. I’m focusing on building a better relationship with my parents. They are still heartbroken about Nick’s death. I’m focusing on trying to be a better person. The week I went back to school after that day, Kent Stramos tried to make a joke about Nick. Needless to say, he ended up with a black eye and some harsh words thrown at him. I might not have stood up for Nick before, but I’m trying now to stand up for others.
I wake up and go tend to the tulips. I gather a watering can and water the tulips. I check over the first row to make sure everything is alive and to see if there are any weeds. The first row passes inspection. I then begin to skim my eyes over the second row of flowers, when I see that one is dead. The wilted tulip has fallen. I take a shovel and dig it up, when a piece of paper appears. Squinting my eyes, I try to see if my eyes are playing tricks on me. The piece of paper is still there. I quickly grab it, shaking the dirt off of it. I open it.
Dear Mom, Dad, and Jen,
I drop the shovel. This can’t be real. I open the piece of paper again.
I don’t know when you’ll find this note, or even if you’ll find this note. I’m sorry I had to leave this way, but just know that I’m happy. Some people just weren’t meant to belong on this earth, and I’m one of them. God has greater things in store for me. I’m tired of being sad, broken, and unfixable. This was the easiest solution for me. You don’t understand why I did this, maybe you never will. But please don’t be angry with me. This isn’t anyone’s fault. I love you all dearly. Jen, I’m sorry I called you during class, I just wanted to hear your voice one last time. Mom, I’m sorry I didn’t please you enough. Dad, I’m sorry I wasn’t the manly sports son you wanted. I’m sorry that I was me, and me wasn’t good enough. Jen, please tell Kent Stramos to go screw himself for me. -Nick.
I start laughing and crying at the same time. Only Nick would bury his suicide note under tulips. The sun shines above me, and I do a half smile. I picture the sun as Nick and he's looking down at me. I continue to tend to the tulips.