Exactly two months ago, my brother woke up early to get ready for the day. He took a hot 45-minute shower and dressed. He helped our mother do some prep work on the string beans she would later cook for dinner that night. When our mother asked him if he wanted to accompany her to the chiropractor’s office for one of her regular visits, he agreed. Ten minutes before she was supposed to leave, he suddenly changed his mind and said he would stay at home. She said okay, and my dad drove her down to Van Ness at around 1pm for her appointment.
Who knows how soon after, but my brother left the house with his house keys and his wallet, which contained his soon-to-expire driver’s license, a credit card, and about $27 in cash. He walked east to Park Presidio Drive and Fulton Street and got on the 28 bus going toward the Golden Gate Bridge. He paid $2 in cash for his fare.
He arrived at the bridge. Witnesses say that he looked to have paced back and forth on the bridge for about 45 minutes to an hour, likely hoping that less people would be walking on the bridge. And at about 4:50pm local time, my brother climbed over the railing of the bridge closer to the Marin County side and jumped to his death.
At around that time, someone who saw my sweet brother jump called 911 and reported what had happened. It took the U.S. Coast Guard about 45 minutes to respond by taking a boat out, pulling my brother’s poor, lifeless body out of the water to pronounce him dead at the scene. It was about 5:50pm. He was then transported to the Marin County coroner’s office.
At the time that my brother jumped, I was here in my Manhattan apartment, completely unaware of what was happening. I had left work early to get my nails done with a LivingSocial deal I had bought. No one cared I was leaving early since the Friday before, I had officially given my two weeks notice. I came home soon after that and ate dinner by myself. I called my friend in Arkansas, who was planning to visit me the second week of August.
At around 9:30pm New York time, my mother called me to let me know that my brother was missing. It was only 6:30pm there, so I didn’t immediately feel worried until she explained to me that he had been sleeping even more in the last few days, and she had found a long rope in his backpack. The day before, he had skipped going to church. He never skipped Sunday service. She told me in a calm but trembling voice that she thought that he was trying to kill himself and was looking for all possible ways, and she was worried he wouldn’t come home. She told me not to worry and that she would call me if he came home. As she is talking to me about how worried she was, I wrote him a short e-mail asking him to call me when he got home.
I got off the phone with her. I sat there in the lounge room in silence. Chris was already asleep, so I decided not to awaken him. Panic came over me, and I dialed the first person I could think of who might be able to help in this situation – I called my seventh grade science teacher and friend and told her that I think my brother is missing. She and her husband strongly suggested we report him missing to the police. Chris woke up, confused, asking what was going on, and I told him.
I argued with my dad about reporting my brother missing. He said that Ed may just be out and that we are overreacting. Why cause a big neighborhood stir if it is nothing? I asked him how he would feel knowing that his son is lying around dead somewhere, shrieking. Shortly after, he and my mother drove to the police station.
At 3am my time, I call my parents again to see if Ed had come home, and my dad says no. I hung up. And I start crying and repeating, “He never came home… he never came home…” I knew in my gut at that moment that my brother was dead.
In the last two months, I have replayed these scenes in my head over and over. I replayed the scenes after this, when I barely slept that night and woke up to go to my free Fhitting Room workout class, when I sat in our lounge room, naked with just a towel covering me, crying on the phone with my mother and Chris there to comfort me. I remember feeling like I was exerting the most effort when I was lifting my legs to climb the stairs at the 33rd Street 6 stop to go to work. I remember calling Crista to tell her my brother was missing and trying to fight back tears. I remember walking to Wells Fargo at around 11:30am to see my brother’s latest bank statement to see what the activity was in case he had decided to run away. And I remember the awful moment when my dad called when I was walking through the Manhattan Mall to go back to my office, when he told me that they had found him at the Marin County morgue because he had jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge late in the afternoon the day before. And I crumpled on the floor by the second floor railing of the mall and cried nonstop.
I still can’t believe this has happened. Part of me still refuses to accept that my brother is gone from this world. I’m trying really hard to understand it, but it’s just so hard because I love him so much and hate this world without him. It makes me sick to think about how hopeless he felt and how he gave up on a life with us in it. I still wish I could have done more, and it still hurts so much.
I miss you, Ed. I need a sign from you that you are at peace. Can you please send me one, or two, or three, or just come back?