‘Brother Broken’ is not a tale of woe. It’s not a romance novel, a how-to handbook, a travel guide, a pot-boiler, a sci-fi sequel or a fantasy adventure. It’s a Saskatchewan true story. A slice of history that’s not dark or depressing. A memoir of hope and gratitude, with a touch of ridiculous―though some parts are complicated, because there is nothing straightforward pertaining to ‘broken’.
Three of my brothers died.
I wish I could say they died of natural causes, but there is nothing natural about suicide. It’s the kind of loss that isn’t easily explained. Even so, I keep trying.
I remember my brothers by writing about them. I share the story of their lives. l tell of what decent boys they were, what they meant to me, how their lives were ordinary and sound before all the trouble started happening. I write so people will learn the goodness of my parents, the wholesomeness of my extended family, that my kin weren’t lowbrow hicks, who screwed-up raising kids.
I write about my brothers, so I don’t have to talk about them. Whenever I try, the words come out strange, like I am trying to pull a fast one. I get funny looks, because I don’t think anyone believes me―at first anyway.
How the heck am I supposed to start a conversation about three brothers who offed themselves? I can’t do it without emotion choking-me-up. The words get stuck, like in my dreams where the screams are silent. It took a long time to remember how to speak. But even now, it only comes out in tiny portions, as if the ordeal of talking too much will completely deflate me. I’m sure you can relate.
The process of writing became my most effective therapist. It allowed me to escape the reality of dealing with pain. Everyone deserves that kind of break and I utilized every morning for seven and one-half years―the length of time it took me to put the story into print.
The thing about writing memoirs is someone’s bound to get pissed-off. Not everyone is happy to hear their secrets might get exposed. The good news is, my surviving siblings are relieved to find out I’d found a way to work through the ordeal. Would I recommend writing as a way of coping? You bet I would.
During some of my darkest hours, I made a few promises to my late brothers. I wrote a letter to them and inside the letter I committed to write their stories. Here’s what else I promised them:
I’ll be your voice.
I’ll bring you back to life.
And maybe I watch too many movies, but I’m gonna quote Emilio Estevez’s line in Young Guns II . . . “Yoohoo. I’ll make you famous.”
Written by: Cecile Beaulieu, author of Brother Broken