Missing our baby boy

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Monday, April 30, 2012

For Brandon

This post is dedicated to my brother.

I’ve been absent these last few months, but the need to blog has been strong these last few weeks. There is so much comfort here, knowing I can express what I need to and not worry about burdening my husband or friends. I tell them that I’m fine, because we all know that’s what they want to hear during a time of grief. Today, I’m not fine.

My last blog was before Christmas. I remember when I wrote it, I was so full of happiness. Christmas was always a favorite holiday of mine for many reasons, but mostly because that was the one time of year my grandmother went out of her way to indulge in the ‘nonsense’ magic of the season for my brother and I. Presents from relatives far away magically were under the tree Christmas morning because Santa picked them up for us. Our family actually got along during this time. Everyone was happy.

I’ve felt that magic every year since, with the exception of that first holiday after we lost Brayden.

This last Christmas was beautiful. Maddox was entertained by the wrapping paper and abundance of empty boxes. Nicholas got what he asked Santa for, and I ate it up because I know in my heart this will be his last ‘Santa’ Christmas. I fixed an early dinner and we spent the rest of the night watching holiday movies together.

A day and a half later at 4 AM, a state trooper knocked on my door. He said it was regarding my brother, Brandon. My heart slammed in my chest and everything started going in slow motion. I just knew he had been in an accident on the icy roads…oh, my god, is he okay? The trooper said,

“Ma’am, I need you to sit down”

...and that’s when my heart stopped and I couldn’t breathe. They don’t ask you to sit down if your loved one is being transported to the hospital. They don’t take off their hats and guide you to the couch if there’s going to be hope in their words.

"I'm sorry. Your brother has died."

No. No, no, no, no, no. This isn't right, he can't be right. I don't think...what? What is he talking about? Brandon hasn't died...what is he talking about?

"...gun, it was self inflicted..."

Oh, My God.

I couldn’t even begin to process what he meant, all I could think was that he was wrong. My brother would never, never, never do that. Actually, I remember thinking are you sure? Even as I struggled to hear what he was telling me, I was absolutely certain there had been a mistake. Wrong address, or maybe another Brandon. My brother had everything going for him. He was happy, independent…everyone adored him. He was the guy everyone wanted to be like. He walked into parties and everyone would shout ‘Brandon!’ and raise their glasses. He was my little brother, and it was always just the two of us. He wouldn’t leave me like this.

But, he did. No explanation, no answers and no real idea as to why. For reasons only he knew, he decided that he was done with this life.

And it hurts so, incredibly bad.

It hurts to think that he was hurting in some way I didn’t know about. I wonder how long he suffered silently inside before the pain became unbearable. I wonder why he didn’t talk to someone…actually, I do know why. Brandon was the guy who cheered you up, not the guy who needed help or had problems of his own. He was the guy who pulled you out of the ditch at 3am. He always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. He always knew the right thing to say in any given situation (an ability I don’t have and was always in awe of).

The next few weeks were a blurry whirlwind of activity. Brandon owned rental property and it fell to me to deal with. His bank had immediately frozen his cards and accounts, and bills had to be paid. He was in the process of buying a house and his stuff had to be moved, papers had to be signed. I had to go through all of his things. I think I hated that part the most. It felt like I was violating his privacy. At the same time, I was grateful for the activity even though it was overwhelming. It kept me very, very busy.

I kept one of his stinky shirts that I swiped from his bathroom floor. It smells exactly like him, sweaty male and Axe body spray. I’ll wash it eventually, but not just yet.

In a lot of ways, this road feels oh-so familiar. The five stages of grief that got stuck on repeat were no surprise. The letting go of little things…I didn’t even want to take out his trash, because that was just more of him I wouldn’t ever get back. Triggers are fun. I didn't realize how many white F-350's there were until the one I always expected to see cruising around wasn't there any more.

Some things are different. It took longer for the reality to sink in, but when it finally did settle some of the grief abated almost immediately...almost. We just passed the four-month mark of his death and I’m just now able to think about him being gone without the onset of a panic attack grabbing me. For the first three months, my mind rejected the thought so violently that the mere reminder of him was an instant, sharp stab in my temple. I could feel my pulse pick up. Hysteria was just barely contained under the surface and I fought to keep it at bay. I could feel my mind overwhelmed and rejecting the truth. I would literally sit on my kitchen floor with my fists clenching the hair on my scalp, crying and trying to get a grip on my grief without screaming my lungs out like I wanted to. I came close to losing it a few times, but not until weeks and weeks after his death. I most definitely went through the same emotions with baby loss, but the depth of pain isn't really comparable. Losing Brayden almost destroyed me.

I never imagined living a life without my baby brother. Ever. He was the last of my family and my only sibling. It was always the two of us against the world. As adults, our lives took us different directions; me, a mother and wife, and him, the classic single working/partying guy. But he always came for family dinners and made time to spend with his nephews. It hurts to think that Maddox will never know how truly great his uncle was.

A close friend told me to take comfort remembering that our mother has waited a long time to see her baby boy on the other side. Even though that statement made me cry, I took no comfort in the thought; I’m still angry that he’s not here where he should be.

At this point, there is a peace that I have made. Even considering how he died, I don’t feel the natural order of life was violated like I did when Brayden passed. Brandon was an adult and it was his decision, so I don’t have the self-blame like I did with Brayden.

That being said, for the first time in my life, I do feel regret. With Brayden, there was guilt, self-blame, self-hate, unanswerable questions, and sadness deeper than anything I could have imagined…but no regret. With Brandon, there were things left unspoken, many things not dealt with and things he needed to hear. But, he’s gone and my chance to make amends will never come again. So, for the first time, I regret.

Of course, having my angry days isn't helping. Sometimes I'm so mad at him for not thinking, for not appreciating what he had or respecting what ramifications his decision would have on others. And then sometimes I remember what it's like to hurt so bad that seeing past the pain isn't even a thought or consideration, but finding an end to it is. Those are the days I hurt the most for him.

We held two services for him to accommodate the amount of people who wanted to pay their respects. As silly as it may sound, I am very proud that I made it through both services without crying. I was able to greet sobbing people, hug, receive and give condolences without shedding a tear. I did get a little choked up reading his eulogy, but I held it together. At that point, the numbness was still working in my favor and all I could think was that I wouldn’t embarrass my brother by turning into a sopping mess at his final goodbye. He would have appreciated that and so I put all of my effort into it.

My brother was a wonderful man. Truly one of the kindest, most selfless people you could ever run across. There wasn’t anyone who could say an unkind word about him. I miss him terribly. I miss him coming over and watching stupid movies with us. I miss laughing at the same things and realizing that no one else was laughing and then just laughing even harder. I miss him telling me I’m stupid and to think for once. I miss hanging up on him when he annoyed me. I miss competing for who could find the most random/funny youtube video. I miss his laugh and the stupid glasses that he wore when he forgot to get more contacts. So many things…I think that’s why it has been so hard to wrap my mind around him being gone. It's like he’s still very much alive in my mind.

We chose the name Brayden in honor of Brandon. I don’t think we ever told him that. Things happened so quickly when he was born and it took me so long to say his name out loud without breaking down…I’m positive we didn’t discuss it. Regret. I would have liked for my brother to have known that.

It’s strange to think that they’re both gone now.

Robert Brandon Krebs
May 26, 1982 – December 26th, 2011
Beloved brother, uncle and friend.
Remembered forever, missed always.


  1. I am so very, deeply sorry. My heart aches reading this horribly sad news. Know that I'm holding you close in my thoughts.

  2. I saw your blog listed on "Caring for Carleigh." I am so sorry for your heartache & the untimely losses of your brother & your son. Sending up prayers for you, dear.

  3. I am so, so, so sorry to read this. It is a beautiful tribute and a haunting post at the same time. I know there are really no words that would come close to expressing my heart breaking for you...as yours is broken yet again, but I will certainly continue to keep you in my prayers.
    I'm so sorry.

  4. Dawn,

    You have known too much pain & loss. Your brother sounds like an amazing man. I envy the relationship you had with him. I am so sorry he is no longer here. I think of you, Brayden, & your brother so often. Love to you my friend.