Tomorrow is the five year anniversary of the day Blue Eyes’ brother took his own life. Uncle D (as I will call him) was 43 years old. He was married to a young woman he had brought over from China for the purpose of making her his wife. Before hearing the story of how they met by Uncle D’s wife, after his death, I had no idea mail order brides were still a thing. Uncle D also left behind a 15-month old son. When we received the phone call, Blue Eyes was on a plane to London for business (by himself) and I had just come in from our garden with my older son. It was May 16, 2010 and it was a really exciting time for our family as The Pragmatist was about to graduate high school. He would work for the summer and then leave in August for College. That Sunday, we had finished planting our tomatoes for the season and we were really grubby. That day and the days following will forever be seared into my memory. My mobile phone was ringing when I came in the house from the garden and it was Sammy. He had received his driver’s license a few months before and he was off driving his friends to lunch in his newly inherited 1966 T-Bird that had belonged to my Grandma on my Dad’s side. The boys had come out from lunch and Sam couldn’t get the car to start. He had flooded the engine trying to get the thing to turn over. He was nervous, no doubt, in front of his friends and had been too aggressive with the gas. I told him I would be there soon to pick them up if necessary. Not to worry, Mom to the rescue. As I hung up with Sam, I noticed numerous missed calls and messages on my phone. I don’t take my phone out with me in the garden because 1) I don’t want it to get dirty, and 2) I like the peace and quiet of gardening without technology. As I listened to the first message, I could feel my knees getting weak and my stomach starting to churn. It was my brother-in-law… Blue Eyes’ sister’s husband. He was abrupt in his message. He merely said, “Uncle D killed himself early this morning. We got a call from his wife. Call me back.”
I met Blue Eyes’ brother in 1984. He was a senior in high school. As I have mentioned, I have 10 younger siblings, so there was probably nothing that was going to surprise me in regards to this kid and his behavior. He was three years younger than me and he was really full of it. He was rude and obnoxious and totally in competition with Blue Eyes. Being the oldest sibling in my families, I really had never had to take shit from my siblings. It was my job to help take care of them. All my siblings looked up to me. From day one, Blue Eyes’ brother was determined to treat me like crap (hello, all Blue Eyes’ younger brother and older sister cared about was jockeying for position with their incredibly rude and disrespectful parents, so I guess the ruder he could be to me, the better he would look to the parental unit). There are far too many stories to tell about how he treated me and Blue Eyes and dredging them all up now, after he has passed, would be petty of me. When they were young, Blue Eyes and his brother were very very close. Over the years, however, they grew apart. With the amount of dysfunction in that family, it would be a miracle for any relationship to survive the wreckage.
At the time of the suicide, Blue Eyes had been dealing with the reality of his brother’s depression for about six years. Blue Eyes had gone to Japan on a business trip in early 2004 and his brother had confided in him that he was having suicidal thoughts. At the time, Uncle D had opened up the Japan office of their father’s law firm, he had been living in Tokyo for a few years, and was on his second marriage, his first marriage having failed back in LA as Uncle D left for Japan having never told his first wife he had committed to living in Japan for at least two years. Aunt Amanda had no intention of living in Japan. In 2004, Uncle D had been married to a Japanese woman for a few years. As it turns out, she had always wanted to come to America, but no one knew what desperate measures she would take to get here. Uncle D had some issues with a business deal gone wrong and he felt like he had “lost face.” The wife was telling him he could never do business in Japan again (and therefore they must move to the US). Uncle D was afraid to disappoint the father and bring down the Japan office. He went off the deep end. It was a short drop from where he had been most of his life. He had spent many years on the edge. Like my borderline sister, he drank too much, did a lot of drugs, and generally people thought of him as the life of the party… but being the life of the party takes a toll, especially when you are faking it and covering up a serious mental illness. During that trip in 2004, Uncle D actually asked Blue Eyes to push him in front of a train at the train station. He was severely depressed. Blue Eyes extended his business trip and tried desperately to get his brother to come home for counseling. Finally, their father flew over to Japan and brought his son home. Uncle D attended daily therapy in Los Angeles for a month. He actually seemed to be getting some decent help. He would call me often during those days and ask for my advice. I gladly and willingly talked to him as much and as often as I could. The boys took to saying… “are you talking to Uncle D again?” He wanted to know if I thought he should return to Japan. He wanted to know if I thought he should divorce his wife. Well, these are big huge life decisions. I did let him know that I didn’t think his wife was helping at all. There wasn’t a huge language issue between them, but there was a big cultural divide. I told him I thought he needed to be with someone who could really understand him… someone who believed in him. Someone that at the end of the day, when he returned home, the person would have his back, would support him, would love him no matter what. Not someone who was constantly criticizing him and had her own ulterior motives for everything. After his month of intensive therapy, he was diagnosed as Bi-Polar (something the parents, to this day, have never acknowledged) and he went back to his wife in Japan. Although he did attempt to work at the law firm in Japan, he was unable to and he started applying for jobs in the US. During this transitional time in Japan, Blue Eyes visited a couple times, but his brother was not taking his medication and his mood swings seemed to be getting worse. The more Blue Eyes tried to help, the more his brother turned on him. Finally, Uncle D stopped talking to Blue Eyes completely and started in earnest on his mission to turn their parents against Blue Eyes (well, and me, of course–but I am an easy target). Uncle D eventually moved with his wife to the US and took a job with a very prestigious and well-known company. They purchased a large house together (where presumably they would fill it with kids?) and then…. his Japanese wife promptly filed for divorce and left him alone in the big house. Uncle D was still volatile, but he now had a job he had to maintain. He found himself a Chinese mail order bride and he brought her to the US and married her the following summer. We had no idea he was divorced again, or remarried.
During the time that Blue Eyes and his brother were not on speaking terms, their mother spent nearly every waking moment trying to get them back to talking. The woman is certifiably insane. She spends a great deal of time tearing her children apart, so she can put them back together again, and be the hero. Well, Blue Eyes was having none of it. During this time he was (now we all know) in the worst stages of his sexual addiction acting out period. At one point when the brother was trying to reconcile with Blue Eyes, Blue Eyes finally agreed to meet for dinner and his brother actually said, if Kat will apologize for all the horrible things she has said and done to me for years, I will think about letting you back into my life. I had, honestly, never done anything rude or mean or hurtful to him or any of his wives. Blue Eyes was only meeting with him to appease his mother (and which probably precipitated an acting out episode… I really really really hate being the victim to this group of sadistic assholes. If I didn’t love Blue Eyes so much, just writing this would make me want to scream and run away forever). That night, Blue Eyes walked away from his brother thinking he might never speak to him again. Eventually the brother backed off and seemed intent on introducing us to his new Chinese wife. The whole family eventually got together July 4th weekend, 2008, where the mother narcissist pranced around like she was the Queen of England, and Uncle D announced he and his Chinese wife were going to have a baby. Hmm… so now bringing a baby into this mess was going to solve everyone’s problems, huh. Nope, I didn’t think so either, not even at the time, but I went along with the charade because what was the point of not. Plus, my boys love all their aunts and uncles and Uncle D was no different. They had missed out on a lot of time with him and, after all, he was the life of the party.
In the end, Uncle D’s baby boy was born and things did not get better. Uncle D became overwhelmed with fatherhood and I honestly believe it was too much for him. He now had a young Chinese wife who required the latest designer dresses, Louboutin pumps, and LV bags while prancing around with baby boy, and Dad had to pretend to be normal enough to keep his fancy career going to pay for all that, plus big houses, and fancy boats, and luxury vacations. It all came crashing down Spring 2010. Uncle D visited us for Super Bowl Sunday. He came alone and he was a shadow of his former self. He did not pick any fights with me, he did not criticize anything about us or our life, he wanted to spend time with our boys, he was thin and tired looking and before he left town, he apologized to my husband for all the things he had done and all the things he had said to Blue Eyes and about Blue Eyes, and then, he said the thing that I have become so accustomed to hearing from addicts and people with mental illness in my life… “if you knew everything I have done, you would not be able to love me. I am so sorry.”
On that beautiful Sunday morning in May, after listening to the message from my brother in law, and then the messages from my mother in law, and knowing Blue Eyes did not even know yet about his brother because he was on a plane, in the sky, on his way to London, which seemed so unfair, I knelt on the floor and put my face into my hands and cried. The Pragmatist rushed in to find me there and I could barely get the words out, “Uncle D committed suicide this morning.” We cried together and then we had to go tell Sammy. It would break his heart.
The parents and the sister and her husband had been in denial that the brother’s depression was real, so they took it very badly. Blue Eyes’ parents do not “believe in” mental illness. Ironic, I know. When they found out about their son’s suicide, Dad sent out an email letting people know about the death and insinuating their son had died from cancer. For a long time many people thought he had died of cancer, perhaps some still do. Uncle D and his wife lived approximately three hours drive by car from our house. As it turns out, no one else from the family could make it up to help with the wife, the baby, and the funeral details. Sister and her husband had to work. Mother and father were on a golf vacation in South Carolina and they did not have the proper attire with them for our area of the country, so they would have to fly home first to get different clothes. It took them more than a week to arrive in the town where their son had died. Yeah, I know. These people are crazy nuts and filthy rich and could have purchased a whole new wardrobe without a care, but they had to have time to metabolize the death of their son before they were equipped to help in any way. I really do understand the limitations of these people, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t piss me off. That Sunday night while I was chaperoning an outdoor movie night that The Pragmatist had coordinated as part of his senior class president duties, I called Uncle D’s wife. I asked her if there was anything I could do to help her. She begged me to come help her immediately (in her very broken English with thick Chinese accent). I told her I could not leave that night, but that I would be there the next day. I would have to leave my children at home. I made the decision to do just that. I will regret that decision for the rest of my life. When I finally got ahold of Blue Eyes in London, he was devastated. He wanted to cancel all his meetings and get on a plane immediately and fly home to be with me. I told him I thought he should stay in London. I thought maybe the work meetings would help take his mind off his torment. I was wrong. He should have come home to be with me and our boys. I will never forgive myself for leaving Sammy alone that week while I dealt with the craziness of my husband’s family. I ended up staying with my Chinese sister-in-law for four days. I went with her to pick out a casket, and burial plot. I helped her write the obituary. I helped her prepare for the onslaught of people that would arrive to their house after the funeral. In the end, she used me, she lied to me, she told me lots of stories about my abusive brother in law, she took me for granted (just like the rest of them), and she eventually turned on me and told me I was just like the rest of the family and I was going to try and take her son away from her. She is a very unstable girl. All this time my family suffered at home and I suffered there away from my family. Eventually Blue Eyes’ family showed up to the scene with all their demands and narcissism. At the beginning they were grateful for my being available when they were unwilling, but then of course, that all faded away and they became the same selfish abusive people they have always been. I thought maybe after losing one son, they would at least try to be nice and loving and respectful to their surviving son. I was wrong.
Blue Eyes no longer speaks to them. Blue Eyes should have stopped speaking to them years ago.
For those of you who do not know, Blue Eyes has his own blog, and he will be posting about his brother’s death as well at
3 thoughts on “Everybody hurts… sometimes”
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Very well written, Kat. My heart just burned reading your eloquence. The scope of the fuckedupness is enormous :-(. I am sorry you have had to live this.
Just to let you know, we share an antiversary here. 16 May 2009 was Dday. Six years. I survived six years. No acknowledgement. I woke up this morning. Into my seventh year of this new reality.
I am sorry too. I really really am sorry that people just cannot be nice and happy and loyal and sincere and honest and faithful. I am sorry we have both been hurt. But, we are alive. We survived. Things will get better and be better. Hugs today, and every day. ❤