When a kid jumped from the top of Jupiter Lighthouse last week, all I could think about was my brother. A couple months after Miles and I had our picture taken at the top of the lighthouse, Miles shot himself. The teenager survived because a palm tree broke his fall. I have prayed for him and his family.
We’re told to remember how fragile life is. It’s hard to avoid the fragility of life when there’s so much violent death around us.
I was told that when Miles died, a cousin on my father’s side of the family said, “We’ve got the two D’s in our family– diabetes and depression.”
But then, some time ago, I learned that Miles was molested as a child by someone at our elementary school. We went to Salford Hills Elementary. We never knew it until after he was gone, and he’d only told one person.
While Miles had been molested, I was raped (among other things). We both had the same struggles, and we realized this much too late. It occurred to us when we drove down to Florida together, three months before he died. We probably both suffer(ed) from some level of undiagnosed PTSD.
What could I have done for him?
I held him while he cried. I made him soup.
I remember I put the crockpot on top of an overturned box because I still didn’t have any furniture. Miles refilled his bowl and said, “Good soup.” I’ll always remember that moment because it filled me with joy; I made him happy.
He enjoyed the soup I made. I took care of him. But did I take care of him enough?
When I heard about that kid jumping off the lighthouse, I relived everything.
The other night, I dreamt that I took Miles’s hand and we walked through a long white hallway. “This way, Miles,” I said, smiling. I was taking him to a good place.
I’d do anything to have him back.
Last week in Saint Petersburg, I dreamt I opened a door and all his stuff was in a little room. “So many things,” I said, and my teacher, Laura, walked up and gave me a hug.
When I told her about the dream, Laura said, “I think you know what it means. I think you know what you need to do.”
I have so many things to dig through. And I know that no matter how much I unearth for the sake of my writing, I will never get over losing my brother.
When I stood on top of the lighthouse with him, I never knew there was anything wrong. And then, just like that, he was gone. Treasure your loved ones. Never take them for granted. Because you never know what’s going on inside their hearts.
Whatever made that kid want to jump, I pray that he recovers and finds peace.
I love you, Miles.