Today is my brother’s birthday. He would have been 60 years old today. Danny was not dealt a good hand in his life. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in his early 20’s. That in itself is not the kiss of death since many people with schizophrenia lead normal lives with the proper medication but Danny was one of the 20% of patients that could not be helped by medication. And he tried most of the medications that were available. It isn’t strictly true that medication didn’t help him; it did quiet the voices in his head. But it did not help him get a grip on reality, it did not quell his delusions or his paranoia. His emotions were flat and this came across in his monotonous manner of speech. And unfortunately the medication came with side effects; that just added to the burdens he carried.
Despite everything, I still miss my big brother. It took many, many years for me to accept that he wasn’t just lazy; schizophrenics have disordered thoughts, obsessive-compulsive behavior and a lack of motivation. First I had to mature enough to want to understand his behavior and then I had to do a lot of research to reach that understanding. Danny was doing the best he could do with the cards he was given. And it hurts thinking back to some of the times where he would have a sudden flash of clarity and he would ask me why this had to happen to him. He would lament about the wife he would never have, the children he would never father.
I do miss my brother. I miss the life he was never able to have. I miss having the opportunity to grow old with him and to share our lives together. I miss the nieces and nephews that would have been a part of my life if he had not been severely mentally ill. Danny was taken from us when he was only 46. He predeceased our parents by several years.
Danny loved his birthday. Other than Christmas, it was probably his favorite day of the year! If he is watching, he would be happy to know that this day is special to me and that every year, I take the opportunity to think about Dan and to remember happy times during our childhood. It isn’t the only time I think about him but it is a day that I feel closer to him than on any other day of the year. Happy Birthday Danno – you are missed. I love you.