I received a call from the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office at about 9:30 PM tonight. A very kind investigator told me that my brother had been found dead late this afternoon in the apartment he shared in Atlanta.
We knew this call would come one day. My brother had a sad history of substance abuse and several run-ins with law enforcement dating back for decades. He was 55, and died alone. We don’t know the cause of death yet.
The tragedy is that he was a very talented, sensitive guy who taught himself to play the guitar, the piano, keyboard, and could sing beautifully. He graduated from college and seminary, and worked for two Christian bookstore chains. But, he couldn’t get away from prescription drugs, and later street drugs.
As a result of his addiction, he lost every job he ever held, he lost his family, and contact with his two daughters. He never saw his three grandchildren, never held them, never heard them laugh. Later in life he was diagnosed as bipolar, which I am sure he was, looking back on his behavior.
But tonight he is at peace. Despite all his problems, he loved God in the best way he could. In the last extended conversation he and I had, Dana told me about an interesting book he was reading about ancient New Testament era manuscripts.
Sometime today, we don’t know exactly when, Dana crossed over from this life into the life to come. Our mother is there, and our grandparents, and a host of others who have gone before. Some of our relatives shared his addictions, and perhaps that’s where Dana got them, but tonight he’s free from whatever dogged him to death’s door.
Dana had been homeless, living on the streets of Atlanta for the past couple of years, when he was not in jail. He preferred the streets to homeless shelters where he had been beaten up and robbed, or at least that was his story. You never knew if you were getting the truth, or another attempt at sympathy. But he had made a friend in Atlanta, and was staying in his apartment against public housing regulations. His friend found him this afternoon, dead for several hours, according to the medical examiner.
Pray for my 89-year old father who will bury his youngest son later this week. Pray for Dana’s daughters, and the grandchildren he never knew. Pray for me, filled with regret that I could not help my brother, despite many attempts. Pray for the other Danas who walk our streets, whose inner demons make living difficult, and death a relief. Their families are also waiting for the call they know will come one day.