Please give tomorrow a chance

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. --

In March 1983, I was 16 years old and a senior in high school. I had a sister who was 17 and a brother who just turned 19. Through interesting circumstances, we were all seniors together. On Sunday, 4 March 1983, my brother committed suicide. That was a tough time for our family. I have always wondered how different my life would be if I still had a big brother. This letter is an attempt to get people to realize that permanent actions to temporary problems may have lasting effects on others. To think that everyone would be better off without an individual is just wrong. The future holds so much promise. There is always hope. Please give tomorrow a chance.

Dear Steve,

 Hey, how have you been?  It has been a while. I wanted to just take a moment to tell you that I am sorry.  I know that, by now, you have probably moved on with life and I may be nothing more than a passing thought or an occasional mention in a conversation. But I can't help but wonder what our lives would have been like if I didn't make that decision. What would I be doing?  I wonder what kind of job I would have?  Would I have a family like yours with an amazing wife and wonderful children?  What would my children be doing?  I can almost imagine having a little girl and seeing her grow up into a beautiful young lady. Or maybe a son who grew up to be a baseball player and we could have spent time playing catch.  You do remember that I liked playing baseball, don't you? You probably also remember we played football when we were younger.  Oh, the days when we were young and our major concerns were fighting fights we could win and getting the cutest girlfriend.  Sorry, I am getting away from the reason I wanted to write.  It's just so easy to wonder what my life would have been. But, of course, all I can do is wonder. 

I know that what I did doesn't make a lot of sense.  I was just dealing with some things that would have been hard to explain.  I know I made some bad choices and that kind of caught up with me.  It's hard to believe I could make that big of a mess of my life in only 19 years. I know we all had our problems growing up. Dad was hard on us. But you know as well as I do that he had a rough life.  Maybe if his life was different, mine would have turned out different as well.  Sorry, there I go wondering again. I know I can't blame my choice on him.

As I was saying, I was going through a tough time.  I didn't think I could talk to you. You seemed to have a better handle on things and I am not sure you would have understood what I was facing.  And we had just had that fight a couple of weeks before.  Why did we fight so much?  Seems like there was way too much fighting going on in our house. We were some stubborn kids.  Remember that time we got in a fight because you wanted to change the TV channel?  Doesn't seem so important now, does it?  Maybe if we didn't fight so much, we would have talked more. Wow, I did it again.  Our fighting didn't force me into my decision...it was my decision alone. I will try to stay on track here. 

My point is that I am extremely sorry for what I did.  It was selfish. I wasn't thinking about dad, mom, Sheila or you.  I was just thinking about me and I didn't want to deal with stuff anymore.  I know that my decision had a huge impact on your life....on all of your lives. Your life is different because of what I did. I know mom doesn't understand why I did it. I can only imagine how much it hurt her.  Especially knowing the situation with her own dad. I robbed all of you. I robbed mom and dad of a son. I robbed you and Sheila of a big brother.  I robbed your children of an uncle.  I probably would have been a good uncle.  Oh man, I almost forgot about Jimmy. You remember he was the one that found me. I don't even want to think about the impact of that initial sight on his life. That wasn't fair.  I should not have done that.

I wish I could go back in time but that's not possible. I wish I would have realized that those things I was dealing with weren't going to last forever. So many people go through so much worse and make it.  I wish I would have looked beyond that Sunday morning. I wish I would have realized that I had a life ahead of me.  I wish I would have thought about my future wife and kids...and baseball games...and dance recitals...and nephews and nieces...and family vacations...and a family dog. I am pretty sure I would have owned a basset hound. Do you remember the basset hound I had when we were kids?

If I could ask one thing of you, it would be to please share my story with others.  Please tell them that problems are temporary.  Please tell them there is a future regardless of what life looks like at that point in time.  Please tell them that there are people who need them...people who love them...people who care about them. Please tell them to look past their own Sunday morning.  Please tell them it will get better. Please tell them there is hope.  Please tell them to give tomorrow a chance.

Steve, please forgive me. I was wrong.  I know that now but it is too late.  Please tell mom and Sheila that I am sorry also. I miss you more than you know.

Love,

Gene