Just over four years ago my only brother, who is two years older than me, was in a car accident. This happened in Virginia where he was living with my mother temporarily, while sorting his life out and finding a job. Prior to the accident he had a sort of change of character. I had moved to California several years prior, partially to get further away from our unstable mother and her side of the family, but also to go to school and start my life. My brother had been struggling to find his place in the world. He had recently returned to the USA after testing out moving back to the UK to live with my father, which is also where we were born.
In the months prior to his accident he was calling me at strange hours and asking very serious questions. Most involved which direction he should take his life, but also to report the strange behavior of my mother. On more than one occasion he had come home to find her sleeping outside in the garden. Another time he found her sleeping in his bed and covered in dirt. Whenever he would wake her up from these "incidents" she flew into a blind rage and shouted obscenities at him. My mother had also been a bit unreliable, but only in the previous couple of years had she become "unhinged." One of the reasons I left home is how much her incidents disturbed me. She would get this far away look in her eyes and react with what I can only describe as a "blind rage." After these incidents she seemed not to recall them, and certainly would never apologize or admit to the trauma they caused. It's very scary to witness, in addition to being traumatic.
Needless to say, it was very disturbing for him to be so close to all of this, especially in a time when his life was quite uncertain. After a series of late night calls -- between midnight and 3am Pacific time, so 3 hours later for him on the East Coast -- I began to worry about him but wasn't quite sure what to do. He would ask me strange questions and seemed to be not quite present himself. Prior to this time he called far less frequently and far less seriously, now he was calling several times a week at late hours. I was in my senior year of college at the time so I couldn't exactly drop everything on a feeling. He told me he was afraid he would never escape. Now I wish I had done more, although I am not sure if it would have changed what eventually happened. We both had an odd sense of impending doom.
A few weeks later, just after Thanksgiving, I received the worst phone call of my life. It was a woman I never even knew existed, who told me she was my brother's girlfriend and that he was in the hospital after a car accident at least two days prior. The hospital had not contacted anyone else, despite my mother living only a few miles from the hospital. From her tone of voice I knew it was not a good situation. It then fell on me to inform my mother and father, then I booked the next flight out.
As soon as I saw him in the hospital I knew he was no longer there. I have had quite a few "spirit" encounters in my life -- I just seem to be one of those people. He was suffering from permanent, violent seizures brought on by traumatic brain injury. The doctors said he'd been conscious when he arrived at the hospital with two badly broken legs, but only gave my father's name and address as his residence -- and since he was in the UK they didn't know how to contact him. They rushed him to orthopedic surgery to mend his legs and place bars/rods.
While in the recovery room he was left unattended, crashed, and went over five minutes with no oxygen to his brain. The doctors said he was brain dead and recommended we remove his life support and allow him to pass peacefully. My mother refused to accept this, and kept causing explosions of activity by declaring he had spoken to her or had moved his arm -- completely untrue, but the doctors were obliged to run a full battery of tests each time until they realized she was unstable herself.
During this time my mother accused me of "killing my brother" because I didn't believe her. She was in a full psychotic/manic state and was managing to make the worst moment of my life 1000x more difficult. Perhaps the most heartbreaking moment was when the police called to have us pick up the contents of his destroyed car. Inside were a whole wardrobe full of new clothes and shoes -- apparently he just received a job offer and would be moving away within a week. This was his dream job working in DC at his friend's company, and he had been out celebrating on the night of the accident.
Eventually I had to return to school in California, as my brother's status was unchanged: brain dead and on life support. Once my mother realized she had the power to keep him on life support indefinitely, she said something that still bothers me to this day "Now my son will never leave me." To this day, he is still in a private hospital because my mother refuses to let him go. She got a large cash settlement and uses that money to continue his care. I have had to take a hands off approach, something for which I harbor guilt, because of how abusive my mother was. After I returned home she started calling me, my boyfriend, and his family hundreds of times in a row. Leaving messages stating I had killed my brother etc. As a result of this, I cut her off completely. This also means I haven't seen my brother since.
In the years that followed I worked hard to process my grief and mourn my brother. Not only did I lose my only sibling, and everything that means, but also my mother and her side of the family who continue to enable her behavior lest they face her wrath.
One evening right around the third anniversary of his accident, also just prior to Thanksgiving, I was feeling a certain abstract sadness. It's a difficult time of year for me, especially coupled with the holidays and I was just feeling a bit lonely. Nothing major, just some quiet reflection. It was that night after I had gone to sleep that something incredible happened.
Usually a solid sleeper, I suddenly awoke in the middle of the night. Instantly I was wide awake and "felt" a presence. I was lying on my side facing the wall when I heard very clearly, although not quite out loud, more in my mind by very real, "Psssssst." I turned my head ever slowly as I was quite scared at this point. When suddenly the tension broke and I heard his laughter. In the corner of my room was my brother. It was incredible how instantly I recognized his presence, his height, his posture -- all those things you don't quite remember clearly about someone after you lose them. He clearly found it funny that I was initially scared. He just sort of smiled at me and emanated a very clear feeling of "I'm ok. You're not alone. You didn't abandon me. I'm not suffering." All of the things I had been worried about. Had I done the wrong thing? Was I abandoning my brother by not facing my mother? All of that was suddenly lifted.
We just sort of sat there together, enjoying each other's energy until I eventually fell back to incredibly peaceful sleep. Before this I didn't know what to think about where my brother was. Do people whose brains die, but bodies survive, pass over? Now I believe they do. That is why his body was so clearly an "empty vessel" and why I reacted so instinctively to keeping his body alive any longer. When he appeared he was quite clear, and his body was strong and fit as he was in life, although he seemed to be made of light rather than a human physical form. His appearance spoke volumes, lifting a weight I didn't even fully understand I was carrying until it was gone.
I love my brother so much. I am so happy that he is free of the toxic negativity that has overtaken my mother. It was the most incredible gift I've ever received. Thank you for taking the time to read this account of the most profound and meaningful experience of my life:)