My brother committed suicide – one of the main reasons why I travel
It all started today 8 years ago.
19th June 2006.
I remember as it was just yesterday, literally.
I was in Olomouc, Czech Republic having important exams at the University.
My 1 year younger brother, Dominik, 20-year-old at that time (we used to call him Domino back home) just went to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, a day before that to try his luck at the initial exams and see if he could get to the University of his dreams.
The following day, Dominik was lost and we had no track of him for more than 24 hours already.
It was one of the worst days in my life. The only worse two ones where just about to come.
I remember very clearly how my brother wanted to come to visit me to Czech Republic that week just after his exams as he never really got a chance to see Olomouc town. I didn’t see him for some 5 – 6 weeks since my last time at home at Easter. I was excited to see him, but that week, studying for 4 exams, I wouldn’t have time for him, nor for showing him around Olomouc.
So I sent him a text message it would probably be better if he didn’t come and that I would see him next week at home in Snina.
In that moment I did not know I was going to regret that message for the rest of my life.
It was an extremely bad day. I had a difficult exam on the following morning but we spent all day trying to find out what happened with my brother as he never came back home from Bratislava in the morning. We were trying to stay positive.
I didn’t sleep at all the night from the 19th to 20th, it was not just my insomnia nor fear of the exam in the morning.
It was that awful feeling I had that something bad was going to happen.
But we still didn’t have any news.
Surprisingly, in the morning I passed the exam with the best mark in 2 minutes probably like the first person ever at the University.
It was still not enough to make me happy. I spent all day like a zombie.
Very scared and worried. Crying.
I begged my then-boyfriend to come and stay with me all night as I felt horrible and couldn’t be alone. I finally felt asleep at 2.30 am. But had the worst nightmare ever. I knew those kind of nightmares, I had had a couple of them before already and they were always true 🙁
I saw my brother laying down next to a river and surrounded by a forest. But he was dead.
I woke up crying like crazy as I knew what it meant. I woke up my then-boyfriend and told him about my dream. He said not to worry.
5 minutes after I got a call from my dad and my uncle what happened.
The nightmare I just woke up from was not a dream. It was reality. The worst reality I could ever imagine!
My brother was found in the forest close to Bratislava next to the Danube river with his head shot through.
The police said he committed suicide.
The second I heard it on the phone, my life stopped. And so did my family’s life.
I could not even catch the breath for the next couple of hours.
My brother committed suicide?! WHAT?!?!?!?!
Through the sea of tears I looked up my next train to Bratislava which was within an hour. I put on black clothes, took my phone and money and left to the train station.
Hours on the train were both never-ending and fast like seconds. I was waiting to wake up from the nightmare at each train station we stopped at, but it never happened. I still remember that train ride as if it was yesterday.
I was alone in the train coupe all the way to Bratislava as I guess I scared all the people who tried to enter and sit next to me with my crying.
It was then when I kind of got started to hate Bratislava. (I overcame that feeling just recently in June 2012.)
Half day after the worst phone call in my life, I was still crying my eyes out when I met my dad and my uncle.
And my brother … in an urn.
I couldn’t get into my head that my lovely brother, always smiling and with the nicest laugh I have ever seen in my life, was inside that little black thing. With no eyes staring at me any more, no more making fun of me, no more making faces at me being angry, no more educational monologues he used to have with me, no more telling me you are stupid.
Yes, we had a normal brother-sister relationship, loved each other but still argued from time to time. And very often it felt like he was the older one of us telling me to try to behave (yes, I used to be a huge rebel)!
Standing there at the main Hviezdoslav Square in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and looking at the urn and the eyes of my dad and uncle, my heart fell apart.
That night from the 20th to 21st June 2006 I spent in the car on the way back home, holding the hand of my dad with my left hand and holding my brother’s urn with my right hand. 28 800 seconds silently crying.
The second worst moment came when we entered our house and I saw my mum there. I think the second half of my heart broke there. We cried hugging each other for the next couple of hours.
But all the family members and friends kept telling me I had to be strong. Strong there for my parents.
I took all my strength the following morning and with my grandpa we organized the funeral.
I tried to be strong but still spend the following days crying. At least I tried hard not to weep in front of my parents after the funeral, and always closed myself into the room or bathroom and cried my eyes out there.
Just 4 days after my brother’s funeral, I had another exam in the Czech Republic. I don’t know how but I did pass it.
For the next months, my life was worse than hell. My family was doing really bad and I just kept hearing I had to be the strong one. So I learned not to show my tears and pain that was eating me alive inside. I was not allowed to show it to my parents. I was so worried about them too. They both seemed even worse than me. So I kept crying at nights or secretly going to the cemetery when I felt bad. And trust me, it was almost every day.
And I kept seeing and feeling my brother presence at the door to our room (we had one room together back home). He was just there smiling at me and not wanting to let me in our room like in the old times when we used to play.
And it happened so many times that when I was listening to the radio and singing or humming loud, the volume of the radio went down by itself. My brother used to do this to make me angry. But he is not here any more. But still for all those 6 years since then, until I wrote this post in 2012 it kept happening. And the volume just went down right when I was writing this post AGAIN 🙁
I felt so alone! My then-boyfriend was not there for me either. Somehow, he did not want to understand I was sad after what happened. One of his reactions to my tears was: ”You behave as if something bad happened.”
That was the crucial moment for me to get this guy out of my life and to start writing a list of 55 things my ideal man had to have to get over him.
I guess it was then when I learned to be really strong. Those months I could count only on myself. And my huge dog who even slept with me in bed to make me feel better.
Unfortunately, I built big defensive walls around me so no one could hurt me any more. I had to. They are still there. And the trust issues, too. I have been working on this ever since, but if you see me for the first time ever or look at my pics for the first time, I know what you think of me.
You think I am a conceited bitch with no feelings.
Trust me, I am the complete opposite if you get to know me. I would do anything for the people I love.
Bad situations in life I had to go through made me like that.
I have never really spoken about all this with many people so far. I just somehow learned to keep it all for me and cry it out when I am alone. Just shake it off and keep going.
But the story above taught me much more than just how to be strong and count on myself.
It taught me to appreciate more every person I love.
It taught me to be there for them right now as we never know what can happen.
It taught me to get a much better relationship with my mom as we used to argue a lot during my rebel teenage years. We are best friends now.
It taught me to realize that we all do mistakes and then have to live with them. My mistake was NO to my brother’s visit. Maybe none of this would have ever happened then. But I have to live with that feeling.
It taught me how awful the family members and friends feel if someone commits a suicide.
It taught me to try to show the others they should never do such a thing.
And it taught me that no matter what, I still have to move on.
And if you ask me if this is what I have been running away from when traveling, then maybe.
But I also have been running towards something. Running towards a better present. Running towards being happy, because no matter what I have been through, I still deserve happiness like anyone else does in this not always pleasant world.
So here you go. This is one of the main reasons why I travel. This is what motivates me to go out of my comfort zone and experience new countries, places and cultures.
And here I am again. In my home town in Snina, Slovakia opening my balcony door every night before I go to sleep. I look out, spot my brother’s urn place in the town cemetery on the hill far away, and taking a deep breath I whisper to myself:
I LOVE YOU, BROTHER!
And I always will …