I was at work when I got the news and I rushed to my mom’s house as fast I could … too fast to be honest. I couldn’t even get to the driveway for all of the deputies, fire and EMS crews. My grandfather’s truck pulled along side my car and my mom leaned forward from the passenger seat, covered in blood and tissue and said “baptist” (Baptist hospital in Winston-Salem).
Driving down the highway to Winston, I was a nervous wreck … I would catch my breath between sobs and quivering … unable to drive and yet traveling nearly 90 mph. Half way to Winston, I saw emergency lights in the rear view … the ambulance caught me quickly and had to be traveling nearly 110mph … I smiled … because I knew that he was certainly still alive.
Arriving at the hospital, there was already a family room prepared for us … I saw family members and family friends arriving … confused … scared. At this point, we didn’t know why my brother had been shot. My mom lived in a rural, heavily wooded area … there were many deer hunters in the area, and I had honestly assumed that he was accidentally shot.
We had been there for 30 minutes or so when the lead doctor came in and briefed us on the situation. He said that per evidence that was gathered by the sheriff’s department, it was concluded that he had shot himself intentionally. The amount of sorrow that those words generated soaked in the walls … the air was heavy and our faces were all saturated. I saw my grandfather break down…he had given my brother the rifle…his guilt was evident and one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed. I was so convinced that my mother would hyperventilate or pass out that we asked about getting her something to calm down.
This was the first hour of many restless days and sleepless nights. This was the longest hour of my life.
If there was a happy ending to this story you would be surprised … maybe even baffled. The round entered my brother’s brain and stopped nearly half way through. Over the next several days his head swelled and surgery was needed to relieve the pressure. His speech was very limited … his arms weren’t of much use … and he was deaf in his right ear. Through mumbled words and tears he apologized for what he had done.
Almost three years later he shows very little sign of ever having gone through such an ordeal. His speech is great, he has full use of his body, and his scarring is very minimal. He recently achieved his GED and he has just started his first job.
I have the honor of knowing the luckiest man alive