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Saturday, March 11, 2017


When I have my professional hat on, I often times talk about the need for clarity.  For the uninitiated and/or those who have lives, by "clarity" I refer to the basic desire we have to simply understand.  In the business world, clarity is important because we want employees to understand what they are dong...and probably more importantly why they are doing it.  Clarity is a cost of admission, if you will, for leaders who want their teams to go simply above getting the basics done.  Clarity is, as a respected colleague of mine once observed, king.

I also think that, even beyond my day job, clarity is still king.

There's been a bit of clarity that's alluded me related to my brother Chris, who passed away in January.  Not so shockingly, I might add.  How and why does someone so full of life at one time just seem to have that life snuffed out?  In some ways, it would have been far easier if he would have died in a car accident (although he had a few of those), but instead, he was more or less taken apart almost one molecule at a time.  Those who knew and loved Chris tried our best to help, but in the final analysis, it turns out that all we could do was just watch.  In a world that can be cruel, well, there are few things crueler than this.

As a side note, probably because of a cocktail of prescribed medication that no simulation could model the interactions, I can sometimes have extremely vivid dreams.  Given the utterly bizarre place that is my head normally, put me in R.E.M. (the dream-state, not the band) sleep with the previously mentioned pharmacology and you have the makings of an almost mystical nightly journey into the surreal.  We're talking Rod Serling here.  Thankfully that journey is almost never negative, but it's also almost never makes sense.  Except for the dream I had a week or so ago about Chris.  He was talking to me.  And he looked so vivid, so clear, so clean.  A far cry from the body I found in his house on January 5th.  I don't remember what he said to me in that dream, and quite frankly I don't know that it meant anything of a higher-power sort, but I do know that I woke up comforted.

Back to clarity.

When it comes to my late brother, we've been missing a key element, if you will, that could provide some much-needed closure...and...clarity.  We simply didn't know what caused his death.  Well, we do know now, in a way.  The details aren't important, over and above than to say that what we've learned from his official cause of death more or less repeats a narrative that dogged my brother for many years.  Yes, when it comes to clarity, we now know "what", but we don't know, on a deep level, "why".  That is likely to never change, ever.

In spite of the above, there are other things I do know, and despite my better judgment, I'll share a thought now.

I know that there were people in my brother's life who aided and abetted the choices he made, choices that directly caused his death.  While that's a tough statement to make, I'm going to ratchet it up a notch by saying that some of these people did what they did for their own selfish economic gain.  Over the years, the profit these people made from my brother was, in all likelihood, enormous.  I wish I could express the depths of anger I feel towards these people, but I simply can't.  As I've noted before, I wasn't born with the rage gene.  What I will say is this, directed towards those people who participated in the slow decay of my younger brother:

My hope is that one day all of you will have one still moment of perfect clarity, a moment where you'll be able to finally comprehend just how monstrous your actions have been (both for my brother and, no doubt, others).  In that one moment of perfect clarity, you will be completely and utterly terrified down to the depths of your soul at what you've done.  You will be filled with a blackness that no amount of light will ever be able to penetrate.  You enabled his death slowly, and the people that loved Chris got to see that unfold over years, all while you counted your profits.  Unlike what happened to my brother, I hope that the weight of your actions hits you all at once.  You should be terrified at the prospect.  And you should pray that our paths never, ever, cross.

Consider this my moment of clarity.

* * * * * *

If you or a family member struggle with an addiction, just know that where there is help, there is hope...and there is a lot of help available.  Just don't give up.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Help Resources for Veterans

Addiction.Org:  Help for the Family

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