My big brother, remembered.
Written by Adam’s younger sister, Michelle.
I was around 10 years old when Adam first came into my life. With such a big age difference, we didn’t have much in common but I was always so curious about him. He was his own person, he beat to his own drum and he didn’t care what anyone thought. He told it like it was and it was never meant to hurt you, he was just real.
I was young so when Adam really started spiraling out of control and using drugs, I was shielded a bit and really had no idea when a lot of this stuff was going on at home. I knew that Adam was bipolar but at that age, I didn’t fully understand what that meant. Our time together was cut short when Adam moved in with his dad in NYC and later with his grandma in California.
Right before my sixteenth birthday, Lynn, Noah and I flew out to California to visit Adam. This was the trip that completely changed our relationship. While in California, Noah had his appendix removed so I spent a lot of my time with Adam. We’d hang at his apartment, drive around in his old car, and get breakfast. Even though I was only 15, I could tell that his life in California was not all positive. Adam was struggling with addiction, but I was too young and naive to realize. With all of that aside, he became my hero, my big brother. He took the time to know me for who I was and I felt protected.
Just a few months later, Adam flew in and surprised me for my Sweet 16 party. I was in tears. I was beyond excited. That night, even though he had just flown 6 hours, he sat with me and taught me how to play my new acoustic guitar. He taught me 3 Libras by A Perfect Circle. I played the beginning to that song on repeat until I had it memorized. I felt so lucky. When Adam left to go back to California, I never thought that would be the last time I’d see him for a while.
For the next couple of years, Adam would be in and out of jail. Struggling with addiction and getting into trouble. Adam was spiraling and falling apart, but he kept pushing and kept trying over and over again.
When I was 19, Adam, Melanie, and I flew to Texas to see our mom’s at the same time. We spent the trip rebuilding our relationship and getting to know each other again. We shared stories and laughed until super late at night. He was just that amazing. He could make you laugh until your stomach hurt. As the trip continued on, I noticed that Adam could really drink. I mean REALLY take ’em back. I was in my freshman year of college so I was just at the beginning of my drinking years, but I could tell that his habits were not normal. Adam left to go back home and I think we all knew that things with him weren’t great.
For so many years after that visit, Adam’s struggle with alcohol became worse and worse. He struggled with his mental illness and dealt with it through alcohol. Even though his struggles were so severe, he continued to ask for help. Even if only sober for a very short time, he tried. And when he tried and was doing well, there was so much hope in his eyes.
Our relationship became strained over the last couple of years. With drunken phone calls and hurtful words, I had to distance myself. It is something that will haunt me forever. 3 months before Adam passed away, he was doing very well and had come back into all of our lives regularly. We had made amends and got to really sit and talk for a while. I was even able to invite him to my wedding. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that.
It was so incredibly nice to have Adam back, but that’s the part that hurts the most. We only had him back for a short time and it didn’t seem fair.
How can things seems so great and then suddenly it all comes crashing down?
We thought he was doing well. We thought he was sober. The phone call came from my mom and it is one of those situations where you know immediately that something is wrong.
What do you mean he overdosed? And on heroin? What do you mean? I don’t remember much after that except that I couldn’t breathe. I told myself that if I could just catch my breath, I could snap back and realize it was all made up. He didn’t die. But that moment never came…
As I sit writing this, a year later, I have realized so much. Adam had a purpose and even though it ripped my heart right out of my chest- I realize now that it was his time. He taught me so much in the 19 years that I knew him and I am grateful every day for that. I don’t know that I will ever feel whole again, but I feel so lucky and protected knowing that he is always looking after me.
My wedding was on July 7, 2017. It poured rain all day while we were getting ready. So much so that I thought I was definitely going to be a drenched bride. The rain had eventually stopped but the sky wasn’t that great just yet. Everyone said that 5 minutes before I came out, the sun broke through and there was not a cloud in the sky.
I know that was you, big brother. You were there. Thank you ❤
Michelle Clarke, Adam’s youngest sister