Know what I didn’t expect?
When I stood up a month and a bit ago to give my eulogy for my brother, and shared it with you online, I didn’t know so many other people, so many other families, were suffering, too.
Look, I’m a writer: a shy, prickly, private person, who relates better to a keyboard than to other human beings and their eyeballs.
But after that eulogy, it was non-stop eyeballs.
Do you know how many people came up to me afterwards to tell me that they, too, had a mentally ill family member? I don’t either. Some were people I’d known for years. Normal people; productive, happy, busy, hardworking, everyday kinds of people.
The thing I didn't expect (but should have) is that almost everybody has a story like this somewhere in their immediate family. Family members who were broken in the same way or a similar way to my brother Eli.
These are stories that must be told.
Stories that are hidden.
My mother took my dvar Torah for his shloshim and read it out at a ladies' meeting she's been going to for years (like, 30 years or more). She read it and halfway through, she thought it was too long and too frum and wondered why she'd decided to read it. And then, after she was done, there was a silence... and the woman next to her, who she had known for ages and socialized with often, started crying and said, "my son is an addict."