I usually write something about Tyko on the 21st of July. Today would of been the 52nd birthday of our brother. Still, after 16 years, it’s difficult to accept that I’ll never see him or hear his laugh again. What I miss the most was our talks about shared childhood experiences and how though much of it capsized us emotionally and spiritually, at least we sat together in the same lifeboat.

An atheist at heart, I suppose a time will come when it becomes easier for me to accept his death through the hope of seeing him again in the afterlife. A lot of folks seem to get religious as they age. Perhaps not in a traditional way, though. Faith probably becomes a custom-made construct, to better fit one’s personal narrative and stave off fears of what happens once the very last breath is exhaled. Projecting an afterlife where you get to reunite with family and friends that have passed before you, might just make that moment’s inevitability easier to bear. Or, not. What if all you meet are the folks that torrmented you during life. The horror.

Tyko committed suicide on or around January 8, 2003. I don’t think an autopsy was ever performed on his corpse, so I don’t know exactly when he killed himself. But what’s really sad is that to this day, I honestly don’t know why he did it. Tyko left a lengthy suicide note, saying his good-byes and trying his best to explain the pain. But I’ve always felt there were more untold reasons or reasonings to his drastic decision.

I’ve never experienced depression, nor have I ever lost so much belief in life that I would or could end it prematurely. Not being able to understand why Tyko took his life, despite our closeness, is a big part why it’s still so hard to accept that he’s gone. It’s also why I’m sceptical about doctors prescribing anti-depression pharmaceuticals to patients with mental health issues. Tyko had been on an off of some kind of medication for several years before he died. And from what I’ve read about these pills, they can all magnify an ongoing state of depression before reversing it. Which is about as counter intuitive as it gets. That’s like handing a jug of vodka to a raging alcoholic and saying, no, no, it’ll get better once you’ve gone through half the bottle. But what the hell do I know?

For the first ten years I got a lot of email about Tyko. Mostly from long-lost friends that had just heard of his death and wanted to know what had happened and so on. These days, no one ever asks about Tyko. Not my immediate family, our siblings or any of his old friends. He’s a vague memory from one of life’s fading tragedies. But he’s still more than that to me. And so, I’ll keep his memory alive. And even if I can’t recall the sound of his laughter anymore, I will never forget how contagious it was. Today I celebrate Tyko, my brother and a man with the widest of smiles and kindest of hearts.