“I grew up just the same as her,” Brian often said, “and I didn’t kill myself.”

Sometimes he sounded proud of himself, sometimes angry with her. Increasingly now, as he grew older, he sounded confused. He’s started using polite euphemisms for ‘kill myself.’ Take my life. End it all. Bow out.

“Bow wow?” I said once.

Brian doesn’t think I should joke, but she was my sister too.

My son used to tell me all the silver linings that clouds had. “Some people say that there are beautiful sunsets after a nuclear winter. When a bird dies its body nourishes the soil that keeps a million flowers alive.” I thought he was such an optimist. My little trooper, always finding the bright side to everything.

It was Brian who pointed out that he was spending every waking moment thinking about nuclear winters and dead birds, desperately trying to find the good things that come out of bad.

“You should watch him,” Brian said. “She used to do that too. You don’t remember because you were too young.”

Brian thinks my son will bow out.

Suicide, my son tells me, often brings families closer together.

Christopher James
The 158 Pound Marriage
John Irving