Every day now, I picture my brother’s funeral. I’m sure we’ll have it out where Grandma and Grandpa are buried. I’ve been there a lot, so I can picture it well. For some reason I still picture him in a casket, although I know we are going to have him cremated. I don’t know why I picture that, but it’s always a silver casket, a big one. And it is a big task to unload it from the hearse. It rains on that day, like it always seems to at funerals. Everyone comes, and cries, and hugs me and Mom. Everyone is racked with guilt and sorrow. They all whisper about how young he is, about what’s going to happen to Mom and I. We go back to Gramps’ house where my aunt now lives. There is a lot of people, and food, and the fire is hot. Everyone eats, and sweats, and stares at nothing, and talks about nothing. I just wander around and look at all the food. I hate it. I want to throw it all to the dogs. It killed him, and I hate it. I can’t even eat a bite. I’ve just lost my brother, and the whole world is worse off for it. Every day now, I think of that. And I think of what else I can do to try and save him. And this is my answer. These pages, this mini-novel. This is the only hope I’ve got, and all my chips are in, my cards on the table. And I just pray to whoever or whatever is out there, that it works.
Every day now, I try to focus on losing weight, getting better. I know my Mom and Julie are feeling hopeless, and Julie is really losing it, but I’m still trying to do something. I just get so discouraged, so tired, and it’s so hard to stay motivated. I need help, there’s no denying it anymore. Julie tells me to find the help, get on the phone, work harder, find somebody. And I want to, but I forget, or get tired, or lose hope myself, or get frustrated. It’s not that easy, and I don’t know how to stay motivated to do ANYTHING, even make phone calls. I don’t think that’s going to work anyway, so what’s the point? Mom barely talks to me anymore, except about what I need to do, what we’re going to do to change all this. She’s so frustrated and angry, and I don’t blame her. I’m just a big disappointment to everyone. I really hate my life. But I still want to strive for a better life, to make something of myself, to travel, see things, move out of this town. I want to be able to help children overcome weight issues someday. I want to be a businessman. I want to move to Vegas and see my sister. I want to succeed. But I can’t do any of those things until I get better. Problem is, every day I feel worse. Every day my pain gets the best of me. Every day I don’t do what I need to do. And every day I give up a little bit more. I’m losing hope. Every day.
Every day now, I come home and go to my room. I have such a hard time dealing with Scott without getting angry, or upset, or even hateful. I don’t mean to react to him that way, I just love him so much, and I’m so worried he’s going to die, that every day I lose control of my emotions, and any hope, a little bit more. I just don’t know how to cope with it anymore, except to hide from it, try and forget about it, and become numb. I want so much to help him, but there’s nothing more I can do. I’ve tried everything I know of to try. He talks all the time about moving to Vegas, about getting on with his life. Then he does NOTHING to make it happen. It’s all empty words, empty hope, empty dreams. He’s lying to himself, setting himself up for failure. Again. And I can’t even bear to listen to it anymore. I have failed him. I don’t know what to do. And every day, I wait for him to die. I wait for him to die…every day. My son.
Chapter Thirty-Seven – Today, Tomorrow? – In Julie’s Eyes
2009, Present Day – Mom is 60, Scott is 35, I am 32
A couple of months ago, I talked to Scott about this ranch I found in Texas, a place he could go to get better. I have been researching and making phone calls for years now. But most recently spent about two weeks on the phone with every hospital and treatment center across the country, looking for a solution for him. Looking for help. Besides this ranch, Rancho Cortez, there’s nothing else out there. There are a few facilities on the East Coast, but they don’t take Scott’s Oregon health insurance, and he’d have to be a resident to get state health insurance first. Since that’s pretty much impossible, and we can’t afford to pay $10,000 to $15,000 a month for his care in a place like that, things look pretty hopeless. The ranch is still expensive, for sure. It costs about $4000 a month, and that’s the discounted work-program cost. I think he could really prosper out there, and I think it’s the only solution for him. But he doesn’t like it, and the only person that can help pay for it has pissed off my Mom, to the point where now she won’t accept help either, even if it means saving him.
Not long ago, I wrote Scott a letter, telling him how I feel about everything. The response I got was less than satisfactory. He still doesn’t want to go to the ranch, he doesn’t know what he wants, and he’s full of excuses. Here’s the letter:
My Dearest Brother Scott,
I wanted to write you a letter because I can't sit down and talk with you in person, unfortunately, and over the phone is not right either. I really want you to know how I feel about some stuff and for us to try and figure out a solution together. I love you so much and I don't think you can even imagine or understand it fully. The reason I don't think you could really fathom the love I have for you is because it is clear that you don't have much love for yourself, and I even wonder if you can really feel love from me or anyone else under those circumstances. That being said, I really DO love you so, so much, and hopefully one day you'll understand how much. And maybe one day, you'll love yourself too. You are a wonderful person with a ton of great qualities. You are very intelligent, kind, caring, understanding, giving, and loving. You have a heart the size of Mount Everest. You are a very special person and I cherish you as my brother.
I know you don't like to hear things I have to say about your life sometimes, or never. And I know you don't particularly like to talk about your issues at all most days. I understand you have a lot of depression at times, and your physical pain is nothing I ever want to imagine, or ever could. I can't and won't give up on you. I want my big brother back. Right now. It has been years and years since you have just called me out of the blue to ask how my day was. I call you quite often to ask how your day is, encourage you to feel better or stay on track with whatever the current plan is, or just to talk and share things with you. I remind you to make a doctor's appointment, or stay positive. I try and teach you ways to train your mind to be in a happier place. I try to help you however I can from a distance. Most of the time I feel like I'm just annoying you. Most of the time, I feel like you want me to give up or stop suggesting things or just plain go away. Sometimes you seem to cheer up when I call. Sometimes we have a good, hopeful talk about the future. Sometimes you aren't too tired to hold a conversation. But those times aren't very often, unfortunately, and I just want a big brother again. I want you to be in a place with yourself that you are healthy and happier, and where you actually call ME, ask how my day is, give me advice, encourage me, just plain chat with me - and laugh. Quite frankly, I don't think it's even possible for that to really happen for now. I liken it to if you were dying of cancer. I would never expect you, in that condition, to be able to care for anyone but yourself because it would be more important for you to focus on your health or recovery than on anyone else. I know you love me, and I know you have a very special place in your heart for me. But I also know you can't fully participate in that love or our relationship because of how sick you are.
I want so much for you. I want mostly for you to be happy and healthy. I want you to travel, see things, meet people. I want you to be able to work again, and be successful. I want you to have everything in life you desire. I want you to have hope. I want you to have a relationship and maybe even some kids someday - if that's what you want. I just want you to have every opportunity and joy in the world. I really do. It's been almost 2 months now since we talked about the ranch in Texas. You told me that if this glycemic index thing didn't give you big results that you would go there. I don't think you're getting the big results you were looking for. But, you still don't want to go, and now it's because you don't want family to pay for it. This may seem harsh, but would you rather have family pay for a program like that, or pay for your funeral? Or pay every day - in lost love, feeling helpless, losing sleep, losing hope, losing years? Money can be made back, paid back. Life cannot. There is going to be a payment made either way. It is your decision as to what kind of payment, and who makes it.
I know you are scared about getting a treatment like that. I know the unknown comes with a lot of fear and uncertainty. I know you would be leaving all the comforts of your current daily routine, home, and life. You would also be leaving the comfort of having Mom. Having Mom to help you with meals, help you with living expenses, and help you by having someone to blame so nearby. Honestly, looking at yourself as a singular entity is one of the scariest things to do. Giving up the security blanket that is Mom, in so many ways, is a huge deal. I know you don't want to hear it, but you know it's true. We've all done it. I'm sure at times I blamed the both of you for me staying in Newport so long. I'm sure she's blamed you for some of her misery. And I know you blame her from time to time for yours. But once you truly face yourself, without having anyone else to look at, you can be free of so much pain. It is the hardest thing, to look at yourself honestly - all the good and bad - and then find a way to love what you see, and have faith in yourself. But you need to give yourself that chance. And Mom needs that chance too. To find herself and love herself - without either one of us getting in her way. We all need that chance. I took mine, by moving to Vegas, and I think if we all stay out of each other's way, but are still able to be there and encourage each other in healthy ways, we will ALL be happy. The trouble is, at this point, we all love each other so much that we can't figure out how to let go - and let each other fly - without being enablers for each other's demons.
For the life of me, besides fear, I don't see any reason you wouldn't jump at the chance to go to Texas and start living again. I know fear is a very powerful emotion and feeling and force. But to let that get in the way of your life - or just even being able to live at all - is unfathomable. You are stronger than that. I know you. You have fought this battle for so many years - and it takes strength to even make it this far - incredible strength. I know you can do this, but I know FOR A FACT that you can't do this on your own. And you can't do it in Newport, living with Mom, and having distractions like Archie and others. And you can't do it without a professional - or team of professionals at first - keeping you on track. You have said this many, many times yourself. You know the truth in this. But, with the right place, and people, and structure, you can succeed. And every step of the way, it is YOU who is accomplishing each goal along the way. It is YOU who does the work and feels the satisfaction of that. It is YOUR life, and YOU will make it fantastic one day. You always refer back to the time you lost a bunch of weight before as a reason you want to "do this on your own". But you didn't do it on your own then either. Gary put you to work on a strict schedule. Anita fixed your meals. The guy at the gym created workouts for you. People and a system got you going - and kept you going. And when all of that went away, you reverted back to old habits and depression. And you were also 100 pounds less when you started that particular journey. Also, a lot of things and life and stuff has transpired since then. A lot has changed in your body. A lot has changed in your mind, and spirit. There is no way you can do this "alone". No way. It's stupid even to try, because you are just setting yourself up for failure, more depression, more guilt, more unhappiness, more hopelessness. A glutton for punishment I guess. I don't know anymore.
If your main concern for not going to Texas is the cost, maybe you should call and talk to the owners. See if there is any way to scholarship some or all of the cost with a promise to repay in advertising or inspirational seminars once you have accomplished your goals. Show them how adamant you are about living life and inspiring others with your story in the end. Tell them how desperate you are to get better and how hopeful you are about the progress you will make. Find a way to make it happen. But with your social security money each month, a few hundred from Mom and I, and other family support, you could be on the way to a new, happy life within weeks! Also, I understand you are physically sick - probably your gall bladder. But what if the doctors can't do anything for you until you lose weight? What if you have to lose 100-200 pounds before they can make that problem better? Are you going to give up? You won't make any major progress where you are...so why not go to Texas and make REAL progress right away? Maybe that would fix a few problems with your physical health. Doing nothing won't fix anything. So, maybe you don't want to go to Texas. Find somewhere else. But find somewhere. The only reason I searched and searched and spent hours upon hours on the phone with dozens of places across the country is because I knew you wouldn't do any of it for yourself. The ranch in Texas just seemed to be the best fit. But by all means, please look for yourself, and find somewhere that appeals to you if you need to do that. I'm just gonna say, it's a lot of legwork - and I've done it already - so I would hope that you could trust me on this one. It's a very discouraging search - dead ends all over the place. But do what you have to do. Like I said, just do something. Take charge, take control, and GO FOR IT!!
I'm hopeful for your life and your dreams and successes. I'm hopeful to get my big brother back. I'm hopeful that you'll make the right choice. I'm hopeful that one day soon, you'll find the complete serenity of knowing and loving yourself. I'm hopeful for your journey. And I love you - to the moon and back a thousand times.
I also hope that in this letter you find my love, some change-of-heart, a renewed passion for life. I hope you find some truth. I hope you understand what this letter is for - but if you don't - it is for you. For you to know how much I love you, and how much I want to help you get better. For you to understand that I am here for you, and that I want you to stay here - for a very long time. For you to realize, once and for all, that you are worth so much in this world. You deserve happiness. You deserve life. And you can do it. I believe in you. Still. And always.
Rancho Cortez - Ranch number: 830-796-9339 or 866-797-9339
Rancho Cortez - Personal number - Mary/Larry Cortez: 830-796-3541
Scott’s answer to this letter came many days later. I called him, and he said he had read it. Said that I was right on with 90% of what I said. That the 10% I was wrong about was the ranch. That he wouldn’t go, wouldn’t take the money from family to pay for it. My heart broke in a million pieces. I don’t know what else to do. Today, I’m feeling very hopeless and sad. And all I want is for Scott to have a chance at tomorrow. To really have a chance. But I can’t force him, and I can’t change his mind. And I can’t do a damn thing but wait and see.