December 25th, 1995
I can’t do this without you. I can’t! Everybody says how you’re in heaven now, in a “better place,” but why now? I need you here far more than God does, I’m sure of it.
The psychiatrist says to “write stuff down,””get it out of my head,“, “it’ll make me feel better.” Blah, blah, blah. But it doesn’t. Nothing makes me feel better. I’m angry…at God, at Dad, at everyone. I feel empty…I feel like throwing up.
What happened? Nobody will tell me anything but that you were in a horrible car accident. I couldn’t even see you one more time…your casket was closed. Dad said it would be better to remember you the way you were. I guess the wreck must have messed up your face, but I still wanted to see you and touch you once more. I hope you weren’t in any pain.
Please talk to me. Or at least let me know that you’re listening. Can you? I’ve prayed every night, hoping that you, or someone, or something, will let me know you’re still around.
But I’m not feeling anything.
That 1995 Christmas journal entry was the last Brig would make for several months. He was devastated by his mother’s death. It was the first time he had questioned the existence of God and his faith. It wouldn’t be the last. Brig’s father, hardly involved in the children’s parenting anyway, turned over all childcare duties to nannies and willing grandparents, which seemed to work out fine for Brenda, but Brig struggled. Where Brig used to be friendly and outgoing, he was now sullen and withdrawn.
Brig went from being an A student to one that did just enough. He stopped attending church services on Sundays and eventually stopped going to any church activities at all. It didn’t happen all at once, and his grandparents, who were now the primary caregivers, hoped it was just a phase, but they weren’t capable of guiding Brig through those difficult teenage years. Brig needed his father. When Brig’s father eventually learned of his son’s rebelliousness, his reaction was to take something Brig valued away from him, such as his transportation. VII had given Brig a brand new green Range Rover for his 16th birthday – Brig’s first birthday without his mother. Tempers flared, tantrums were thrown, guilt trips were taken, and within a few days the Range Rover was returned to Brig, as VII had urgent business in some faraway place and didn’t have the time, or the endurance, to maintain the discipline his son needed. It was a pattern of behavior that would serve as the foundation of their relationship for the next two decades. Brig learned that VII rarely followed through on his threats. Whether it was because VII didn’t have time and couldn’t be bothered, or because he felt guilty about not being a good father, Brig didn’t know and didn’t care, as long as he got what he wanted.