Robert Charles Carnerie... “Bob” my kid brother:
May 28, 1955 - May 25, 2013
At 06:30 this morning I learned that 3 days before his 58th birthday, my brother took 150 pills, drank all the alcohol in his apartment and dressed only in shorts, walked over the edge of his 11th floor balcony. Apparently the police found his apartment had been neatly cleaned, was devoid of all belongings, save for a box of knives (remnants of his work as a butcher), a clean suit and new shoes hanging inside beside his suicide note. I’m told it read, in fairly typical terminal depression language, “Nobody will miss me.” Well, Bob, I miss you.
I began missing my brother as a teenager. The first time the police brought him home drunk from the park, he was 11 years old. He fell into pot and hashish very quickly but completed his course in meat cutting at George Brown College and for many years was a skilled butcher – a source of great pride for him. Always his addictions were growing, his sickness (carried to him in his genes and cultivated in our dysfunctional family life) was bounding, causing him to push away from those of us, who cared deeply about him, but did not yet comprehend much about the disease of addiction.
His first suicide attempt (at least the first of which I was aware, because the secrets were many), came a few months after our mother died of cancer (our father long before in an early grave from his lifestyle). I located him with the help of police and took him to a coffee shop on the lakeshore in Etobicoke at 01:00 a.m. for food and coffee. He was so neurotoxic with drugs and booze that his feet slapped the floor like a Frankenstein. Among the addicts and prostitutes there, and a woman who was talking to a spectre, he allowed himself to be convinced to enter a Detox. He signed himself out after one day because “everyone else here is way worse than me.”
Bob managed to clean himself up, find more employment in his chosen profession but his sickness was progressive. He raged, he self-isolated. With each contact his apparent loathing of everything about himself was glaring. He disappeared from my sight, and I missed him. Birthday cards and Christmas cards were not returned to me, but neither were they answered... and I missed him. I went to his last known address but his superintendents had no information about where he went. I ran a few searches of Death Certificates, beginning to fear the worst...
All went quiet. Eerily quiet. Deathly quiet.
In a 12 step program for narcotics or alcohol, Step One is to admit that your life is unmanageable and you are powerless over your addiction. Bob died never having made it to Step One. Our role as survivors is to help educate anyone who will listen that addiction is a complex set of diseases but, in the words of iconic physician, Dr. Gabor Maté, who works with addicts in downtown Vancouver, “it’s not about the addiction. It’s about the pain.”
Bob. Are you listening? I have never stopped loving you. And I miss you.