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My Brother - How I Became An Only Child

Updated on February 23, 2013

My Brother, Richie

This page is about my brother, Richie.

October 16, 2012 will be 13 years since I last saw him breathe. Even then, it was ventilator assisted.

He was 29 years old when he left me here to be an only child.

In The Beginning

Richie was born December 7, 1969. I was 5 1/2 years old.

My mother had asked me several months before if I wanted a baby brother. I looked at her and very solemnly said "No, I want a big brother." She had laughed and told me this was impossible. So I requested a baby sister instead.

I have prayed to God for forgiveness ever since, for once my brother was born, I loved him immensely.

Richie was a beautiful, chubby cheeked, blond haired baby that everyone loved as soon as they laid eyes on him. What a beautiful, sweet child he was.

He was very loving and he called me "Sissy".

The Teenage Years

As he became a teenager his friends began getting into trouble. We lived on the "upper crust side of town" so we never thought he would even meet people he would get into trouble with. But as always, kids are dumped into public schools from all neighborhoods, good and bad. Some make their way out of the bad neighborhoods and become solid citizens. Some find their way into the "crack houses".

My mother bought her baby boy a brand new truck for his 16th birthday. She had it modified for him and bought him all kinds of gadgets for it. It was beautiful. He now had wheels...and freedom to go where he pleased without my parents or me knowing exactly where he was at any given time.

I won't go into details here out of respect for my family but it suffices to say things weren't turning out so well.

After several run ins with the local police over minor traffic violations he was on their radar and would not leave him alone when they saw him. It was harassment plain and simple.

Through The Adult Years

Life was hard for someone who didn't graduate high school and now had a record. He was only able to hold jobs for a short period of time due to harassment from the police and probation officers. Our family was even harassed.

I was now married with children. Richie lived with my family off and on through the years. He worked most of the time with my husband. We owned a flooring store and put him to work, training and honing his skills as an installer. He became rather good!

Richie met and eventually married his wife, Lisa. Young couples always go through rocky times and with the past still close on his heels things became even harder.

Lisa became pregnant, which was the dream they both had, but things turned sour. Again his past came back to haunt them.

Lisa's father felt it was time to take her home. He made her file for a divorce and made sure Richie's name was not on the birth certificate. This drove her into an unstable emotional state.

After the baby was born Richie attempted many times to see his daughter but was thwarted at every turn by Lisa's family. He eventually gave up after several years. However he never forgot his daughter or his love.

18 and Life

My brother's favorite song

The Phone Call

August 28, 1999, I was divorced and working outside the home. I got a call at work from my mother. She sounded so sad. Richie had been in an accident the night before. He had been a passenger in a truck that had flipped over and thrown him from the vehicle. Mom and Dad had been at the hospital all night with him. But I was not supposed to worry. How could I not?

I went and picked up my son who was 6 years old. When I told him we had to go to the hospital to see Uncle Richie, he became very upset and scared. They had always been very close. He knew Richie the moment he was born because Richie had talked and sung to him the whole time I was carrying him.

When we arrived at the hospital I found out that my brother was in ICU. Not worry? He was mangled. His skull had to be pieced back together and to have huge box staples to hold it together from the crown down. His teeth were broken and his lungs were bruised. There were glass cuts everywhere on his face and body. His face was so bruised I didn't even recognize him. I thought I was in the wrong room until I saw my mom.

Christopher, my son, was terrified until Richie called him over to the bedside and said "It's me, little Critter (my son's nickname)".

I can only tell you I was in a state of shock. My brother was a beautiful man. Women adored him. He was a sweet person and good to his friends and family.

Everyday after work, we made the trek to the hospital. He was in and out of ICU. He would stabilize and then drop. It was a constant state of flux.

He stayed in the hospital until Friday, October 8th, 1999. I got a call from him but was not at the house when the call came in. I called the hospital and he was no longer there. No one had a clue or wouldn't tell us anything about where he was.

It would be the last time I would hear my brother's voice.

He's Gone

My father got a call from Richie that night. The Atlanta, GA city police had come to the hospital and taken him out of ICU, which is illegal by the way, and taken him to jail. He was being held in a holding cell. They thought he was the driver of the vehicle in the accident, because the driver had been thrown also.

My brother had IVs in both arms and was released from the hospital to the police on the terms that he'd be given 9 more days on antibiotics. There is no need to go into more detail other than to say, he never got them. He pleaded for help and no one listened. He called my father, but the city and county had holds on him and could not be bonded out. The police chief was called and she did absolutely nothing. We were told that if he needed medication, he'd get it.

He did not. On Wednesday night, October 13th, my brother went into respiratory arrest while pleading for help. He then slipped into a coma and only then was he provided any medical attention and rushed to a hospital.

I stood at his side talking to him for hours on end, pleading with him not to leave me, pleading with him to come back. I begged God and raged at God. I screamed to Heaven for help. None came. I had lost faith in all humanity. I swore and cried and begged and pleaded. He never came out of the coma. On Friday evening, October 16th, 1999 my brother was pronounced brain dead. He was gone.

I lost my faith in God that day.

The world as I knew it was forever changed. I was now an only child.

After His Loss

In the months following his passing, there were legal battles fought and won. Cover ups were found and people went to jail and lost their jobs. Everyone involved was made to pay dearly. But he never came back. It never filled the void left in my heart and soul. Nothing ever will.

I didn't deal well with his loss. I found myself screaming at the top my lungs for him. I would scream his name in my sleep. I wouldn't even say his name around my parents. We didn't talk about him. The pain and anguish was like living in my own personal hell. I just wanted the world to leave me alone.

I went to work and came home, forgetting to eat, though I still took care of my son. It was surreal. I kept looking at the front door, waiting. Why didn't he come home? I kept his clothes washed and folded in his drawers. Some nights I thought I would hear him in the house, finally home. I would rush to the room but he was not there.

In October 2009 it will be 10 years since I've seen him breathe. I will have been an only child for 10 years. It has taken me all of this 10 years to find my way back to faith. Though it is still a hard road to travel, I can find some solace in the fact that he was never really happy here in this world and he is now with his Father.

Quoting fom Maya Angelou

In the instant that he is gone, we know nothing. No clocks can tell time. No oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure.

Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone.

Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him.

He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance.

Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that.

He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his.

We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes.

Dealing With Grief

I never dealt with my grief. I kept it tucked in a corner until I was alone. Because of this it has taken me 10 years to bring it out into the open and talk about it. Don't do that to yourself. You can find help. There are organizations that have counseling for free. There are numerous self-help books, which I chose to ignore. There was nothing wrong with me. I refused to go through the stages. You have to. To be able to function normally again, you must go through the process.

I didn't want to cry. I've never been seen as an emotional person, always strong and able to handle anything. This? I did not handle it well. For your sake as well as your family, talk about it.

A Special Thank You To All

I want to say to a very warm, heartfelt thank you everyone who has read this lens. It doesn't matter whether you commented or not, I thank you for the time you took to read it. I know it was hard to read and yes, hard to write. This lens was an outlet for much of my grief and with two very strong and faithful friends, Drifter0658 and Heather426 , standing beside me and encouraging me, I was able to make it through the many, many 4ams it took to finish it. To you both, I love you.

Thank You For Spending Your Moments With Me

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    • JoleneBelmain profile image


      6 years ago

      That is such a terrible thing to have happen to a family... and so not fair of the police to torment him so much after his past. May your future be bright, stay strong.


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Today is Oct 10, 2012 as I'm writing this comment. May you continue to find peace and remember all the love and good times you shared with your brother as you celebrate him during the 13th anniversary of his passing.

    • GeekGirl1 profile image


      6 years ago

      I am sorry for your loss. It takes courage to write something like this but at the same time this is a good tribute to your brother. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It makes me really mad when i think about the fact that he could have been saved if the police didn't do what they did. The worst thing was that he was innocent. Anayway may your brother R.I.P. I felt really sorry for you reading you story.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've spent some while reading and then thinking and can only say, I am so sorry you lost your brother and became an only child in such a horrible, unjust and preventable manner. I went through so many emotions and grieved your loss while being so angry but smiling at how sweetly Richie comforted "little Critter" with his tender heart. The one thing that really keeps coming to me is that nothing that happened to Richie was the fault of a little girl's heart that was hoping for a baby sister, I hope you have been released from that.

    • Elle-Dee-Esse profile image

      Lynne Schroeder 

      6 years ago from Blue Mountains Australia

      Thank you for the courage it took to write this and share it with us. I hope I never have to go through anything like this ever in my life.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      This is a painful lens, but at the same time a beautiful hymn to your lost brother.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      6 years ago from United States

      I first read this 2 years ago and it has changed the way I think. A story in the news this very morning reminded me of your brother and the mistreatment. Your willingness to share so openly has forever touched my heart and my life.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing this difficult thing with us!

    • Richard-H profile image


      7 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      It's been a while since I have visited here, but today I especially wanted to leave a special blessing.

    • joanhall profile image

      Joan Hall 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thank you for sharing your story. I'm adding an Angel blessing to this lens.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What a touching story...I'm glad you found faith again. In going through my cancer journey if found a quote that I clung to and I'd like to share it (paraphrasing) with you ..."what he brings you to, he will walk you through". Sending you big cyber hugs!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Such a brave lady. God bless you

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image


      8 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      I'm so can be so very, very unfair...Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • jonocull profile image


      8 years ago

      I really don't know what to say other than so sorry and so sad, god bless you and your family.

    • almawad profile image


      8 years ago

      I am around your age and I have a brother of the age of your lost brother . I also kept hoping that a little sister would come when my mum was expecting him -but I always loved this little boy so much .My brother also had a wilder period -then luckily he met people who suggested him studying and he listened to them . He is a highly trained professional nowadays . For me always my little brother ...

      I feel for your mum and dad and for your terrible loss . I can not understand how the hospital management let the police take a patient in so bad condition . It is really too much for me to understand . Even sentenced prisoners are given the right to recover then how a person who is only an accused in traffic accident could get this type of treatment .

      All the best to you and to your family ...

      I am very sorry for he could not find happiness in this life .

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your personal story. Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      9 years ago from United States

      My heart is breaking for you and your family! There is never any excuse for such an act of violence and heartless treatment. I don't know why I always expect more from mankind.

    • Richard-H profile image


      9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      It's a tough ordeal losing someone so close at such an early age. What's worse is knowing that something could have been done to give that person a fighting chance. I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      9 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Thank you for sharing and letting us into the deep parts of your heart. It is never easy to love someone you have loved much. I hope now that you have faced your grief your heart will eventually heal.

    • ZenandChic profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh my gosh! Your story tears my heart apart! That police station is awful! I am so sorry that you lost in your brother and over police negligence.

    • Rich-H profile image


      9 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      I feel the love, the pain and the anguish oozing from every word here. A Squid Angel Blessing for this heartfelt and heart wrenching lens. Virtual hugs :)

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      A painful and very sad story. I hope writing this has helped you. My sunken heart goes out to you. A fellow, lensmaster. Sherry

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      I have been wanting to bless this lens since the day I read blessings to you, fellow Angel and wonderful friend! May it get easier for you as the years go by.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Blessings to YOU my dear! Squid Angel blessed today.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I could feel the depth of your loss reading this lens and I hope it was helpful to write it. So many others that have experienced loss will benefit from reading this and knowing they are not alone. I will be thinking of you this week as the anniversary of his death comes up for you. He was lucky to have such a loving sister.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I loved my Uncle Richie.. and he loved me too. He was always so sensitive, despite the troubles life brought him. He deserved nothing that happened to him, but at least we all know he's in a better place.

      RIP Uncle Richie.

    • luvmyludwig lm profile image

      luvmyludwig lm 

      9 years ago

      Holley, I'm so sorry for what you and your family have had to deal with. I can't even begin to comprehend the pain of your loss. This was so very brave of you to write.

      Angel blessings to you and many hugs!

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your very personal story! As hard as it was for you to type each word please know that you have helped someone, somewhere deal with their loss because of your words. To you ----> {{A great big virtual hug}}

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      Holley, you've touched me deeply by sharing this personal story about your brother's life and your family's loss. You've bravely found your way back after a horrible tragedy - we can only hope those who made the poor decisions that cost Richie's life have finally learned to do the right thing and no more harm will come from their actions. Take care and stay forever strong.

    • lakern26 lm profile image

      lakern26 lm 

      9 years ago

      I can only imagine how devastating it must have been for you to lose your brother, especially as a result of such callous treatment by others. I have a younger sister and honestly don't know how I would be able to continue living if I ever lost her. I am so so sorry for your loss and I admire your bravery in sharing your story with us.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      9 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Holley, I feel so sorry for you. I too have lost a brother. I had 5 and now only have 4. It is like a part of you being torn away. May God comfort you.

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 

      9 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      Holley...what a very sad time for you. May God be with you.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Holley, you have shared a most touching story -- I can't possibly fathom how the police could take him out of the hospital. It doesn't make any sense. I am so sorry for your loss.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Oh Holly, I am hurting with you because I know what it is like to lose a brother. You have done a beautiful job of writing your story and it is a lovely tribute to him.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Oh Holley! What a nightmare! Thank you for writing it. I know this was difficult to do. But, as you know, we never know who is helped by reading our work. Love and comfort to you. SquidAngel Blessed!

    • AlisonMeacham profile image


      9 years ago

      Squid Angel Blessings Holley. I sincerely hope that sharing this with your Squidoo friends helps you in some way.

    • Terry Boroff profile image

      Terry Boroff (flipflopnana) 

      9 years ago from FL

      Oh Holley, you have told your story beautifully! It really touched my heart and and was so brave of you to share. Although the pain may never leave I do hope you find peace.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thank you for sharing this story. I am so sorry that you lost your brother this way.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Holley, I don't even know what to say. What a horrible experience that should never have happened to anyone, least of all to you and your family. I'm so sorry you had to go through this but thankful you have found some path towards comfort, even though the loss is not recovered on this earth. As my six year old says, with the wisdom sometimes only children still possess, "someday, Mom, everyone will be together again". Thinking of you tonight, girl.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 

      9 years ago from Croatia

      Beautiful way to remember your brother. We get to know you and your life a bit more with this lens. Thank you for having courage to let us in. Blessed.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm so sorry that you lost your brother this way. I've relied on many of ComfortDoc's lenses to get me through rough times. Maybe they will help you too. Squid Angel Blessed.

    • Laniann profile image


      9 years ago

      Words are never enough at times like this. I am truly sorry for your loss. 5*s

    • hlkljgk profile image


      9 years ago from Western Mass

      i'm so sorry for your tragic loss. i, too, lost my brother, and only sibling, when he was 29 - about 12 years ago.

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 

      9 years ago from California

      Your story was so captivating that when I had to go into the other room for something, I found myself rushing back to see how you learned to deal with being an only child for these 10 years. My heart breaks that no one convinced you to go to Grief Counseling, or helped you deal with this loss.

      I have a friend that just lost her boyfriend of 17 has now been one year and she still has his things exactly where they were in the house. I could feel her pain as I read of yours.

      As hard as this was to write, I can see where it will have benefit, and so glad that you learned to deal with your loss.

    • ctavias0ffering1 profile image


      9 years ago

      It took me 14 years to write this poem, I hope you find it relevant. This is a brave and wonderful lens and I'm sure others who have lost a loved one will find it a comfort to share, I know I do. 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautifully told, Holley. So sorry for the loss of your beautiful brother. My love to you and your family.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I'm so sorry for your loss. You really told this story beautifully. Thank you for sharing what had to be a hard tale to tell. God bless you.

    • puzzlerpaige profile image


      9 years ago

      I've feel that pain from the loss of a loved one never goes away. We only handle it differently as time goes by.

      I'm so sorry you and your family had to go through this. I can not imagine how helpless you felt when no one would administer the medicine. I could feel that this must have been gut wrenching for you to write, but I'm glad you did.

    • seashell2 profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow, that was hard to read ( brought tears to my eyes) and I'm sure very hard for you to write! Sharing those deep thoughts I'm sure will continue to help you deal with the loss of your brother. I really sensed he was a beautiful person. We often don't know why things happen but we have to trust that God knows best and he is always in control! I have lost Grandparents that I was very close too, and it is a hard thing! God Bless!

    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 

      9 years ago

      That made me cry. I am so sorry to hear about your brother. AND all of those people who didnt give him medicine, I hope they got what they deserve. I lost both of my brothers too and am an Only child now so I know how you feel.Hugs to you nd your family.

    • Zut Moon profile image

      Zut Moon 

      9 years ago

      WOW, that is a very powerful story. No one has immunity. I had a tragedy as well concerning the suicide of my daughter which I tell about in Self-Destructuve Behaviour. It is wise and good to share your emotions - it is only through this way that someone can grow. Some people keep their feelings inside and in the end, that will destroy them as a cancer, burning from the inside out. Well Done ...5 Stars

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Gosh, I cried for you and for your loss, and your parents' loss, and your heavy burden.

      I lost 2 sisters, and it never really goes away, the sense of loss. It is a beautiful heartfelt lens, and I hope you feet better for having written it. They say talking about the pain helps to heal it. I wish that for you. You are a wonderful person, so I am sure that Richie was too. The ways of the Universe are very mysterious.... 5*, favorite, lensroll.

    • drifter0658 lm profile image

      drifter0658 lm 

      9 years ago

      Such a deeply sad story. Grief often changes our lives in one form or another.

      Thank you for the heartfelt and brave journey. May you find the peace you deserve. !0 years is a harsh amount of time to be hardened against the potential of your fellow man, but I certainly understand why you feel this.


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