What Happened To My Brother

NYC In The Fall by Courtney Livingston

The past few weeks have been tragic. As many of you know, my brother passed away last Tuesday.

I just so happened to be on a work trip in NYC when he died.

It was a crazy week.

I could go on about all the positive things that happened in NYC, but I’ll save that for another post. The truth is, I got a call on Tuesday morning that changed my life.

Don’t ask me why I was awake at 4:45 AM, but I heard my phone vibrating. It was my dad.

I knew that could only mean one thing: something happened to mom or Marcus. I let the phone roll over to voicemail as a way of bracing myself for the conversation I knew was about to happen. I listened to the voicemail. It sounded grave. I quickly called my dad back.

“Courtney, it’s your father. Your brother is dead.”

I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know what to say. My father is a jokester and has played tricks on me before where he told me someone died who didn’t actually die, so I asked, “Are you serious?”


He was serious.

The rest of the week was a haze. I felt numb.

On Saturday, instead of heading home on a train with the rest of my team, I boarded a plane to Florida. I sat through one of the hardest experiences of my life- my brother’s funeral.

My brother, my blood, my very first friend.


I didn’t know it would be this hard.

But what makes it even worse, is the mixed feelings raging inside of me.

My brother died of a heroine overdose. He had every chance to get well. He went to rehabs, he was helped by family and friends- both near and far- he was given chance after chance after chance. And he squandered his chances.

He just couldn’t stay strong.

My brother had been clean for one year. This time last year he went to a Chr-stian rehab. He rededicated his life to G-d and even got b-ptized! This summer, he moved out and got a room. He was working. He was seeing his daughter on the weekends. He was attending ch-rch. He was slowly putting the pieces of his life back together.

Then hurricane Irma hit. The place where he was staying got flooded. He had to move. So he moved in with my aunt and uncle. He got a new job. He was doing okay.

A few months ago, my mother warned that if he went back to drugs after being clean for this long, he could easily overdose and die. I remember thinking to myself, given his current track record, he’s probably going to die!

And he did.

He couldn’t withstand the temptation. He was weak. He made a mistake. He got drugs, he got high, and died of an overdose. On my aunt and uncle’s guest bed.

Now Scarlett is left without a father, his girlfriend is left without the love of her life, and my parents are a wreck.

Our family of six is now a family five.

So, now I’m back in Virginia. The funeral is done. My sister is back at college. And my oldest brother’s baby is due any day.

It’s weird, grieving for someone who dug their own grave.

I feel sad, because I know Marcus didn’t want this. The Marcus I knew wanted to be a military man. He wanted to have 10 kids and carry them around in a mail truck. He wanted to be an outdoors man who went camping, hiking, and fishing. He wanted to stay clean.

But the drugs took over. Intellectually. Socially. Morally. Ultimately, they took his life.

The Marcus who died wasn’t the same Marcus who played steal the bacon with me in the back yard. It wasn’t the same brother who made nutcracker plays with me in our living room every Christmas and performed them for my mom. It wasn’t the same brother who played make-believe village with me everyday after school (he was the blacksmith, I was the fruit seller). It wasn’t the same brother who picked blackberries for our neighbor, Ms. Suffin, who caught fireflies in the summer, who planted gardens in the spring, who had bonfires in the winter, who raked leaves with me in the fall. It wasn’t the brother who bounced me so high on the trampoline I flipped in the air. It wasn’t the same brother who danced with me when school was out and we belted out at the top of our lungs “School’s out for the summer!!!!” It wasn’t the same brother who rode bikes with me to the airport, who roller skated around our block, who called himself “The Turtle Hunter” and filmed his own tv show. It wasn’t the same brother who rode me around on the dirt bike, the go cart, the four wheeler, who taught me how to get my hands dirty, how to be tough, how to live life and not look back for a second.

That brother died long ago.

And now that his life is over, I’m left feeling sad.

I try to conjure up my feelings, to come up with a better word than sad, but there’s really no other word I can think of that adequately expresses how I feel.


Marcus and Courtney Kleinhans

Love you forever Marcus James Kleinhans. ♥


Have you lost a loved one? Have you dealt with the consequences of drugs in your family? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


119 thoughts on “What Happened To My Brother

  1. It is sad what happened to your brother. My condolences are with you and your family. This post of yours should serve as a template for others, show them the harsh truths of drug abuse and how it not only will affect them, but also their near and dear ones. Alas, not all stories have happy endings and not all stars shine the brightest.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I am so so sorry for your loss. My father died from an overdose also. It’s tragic. It’s maddening. It’s devasting and it’s impossible for those who have not endured addiction to understand. What we do know is that he is now addiction free and he is with our Heavenly Father. Safe and whole once more. Xoxo


  2. I have read a lot, they have a strong personality and they are also strong and I also stay strong, I know it is not so easy but chicksal of us people can not be any names or surnames we all can be also called, good luck and everything is good for the future. I’ll keep on reading from you, see you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am so so sorry. I wish there was some word or sentence I could say that would take away all the pain from you and your family. but you have so many supporters that are here for you through this blog. stay strong and thank you for sharing your story. praying for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Courtney this must have been so hard to write. This was a wonderful post about Marcus. The Marcus we all really knew. Thank you for reminding me of how cool of a guy he was through this entry. This literally brought tears to my eyes. I can’t imagine, still, how your mind is going and handling this idea that now you’re a family of 5. 😦 Your family is still in my deep prayers and thoughts. Love you all so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was hard to write, but I find it therapeutic to get out my thoughts and feelings on “paper”. I’m happy it reminded you of the old Marcus! I’m glad i was able to have him as my brother while I was growing up, and I’m thankful we we were able to have such great influences in our lives like you and Josh! Thank you for the prayers, we really appreciate it. Love you too, and you can expect a visit from me one of these days once I find my way over to the West Coast!


  5. Addiction is such a beast. It waits in the shadows of our spirit until it gets a chance to rear its monstrous head again. We’re so sorry to hear of your loss. Please accept our sincerest condolences. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so so sorry to hear this. This upset me so much, I cannot even imagine what it must be like. I want to say something kind, something you want to hear, but all I know is that I’m so sorry. Please stay strong. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Courtney, you have my full heart of love and support for you – I know how hard it is to lose loved ones. My wonderful grandparents have both died in the past three years, and it was a huge strain on our family. I hope you can heal as well as possible (because nobody ever heals fully from a death). Sending you much love and light ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Courtney. 😦 I am so, so sorry for your loss. I can feel how lonely and hard it must have been for you. There are no exact words to make you feel completely better but I’m sure he’s already at peace wherever he is and I know he’s guiding you all. He may be overdosed but I’m sure he’s overdosed with your love as well. My heart is with you, bb. Huuuuugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh my gosh. I am so sorry for your loss Courtney. Yes, I have had a few people in my family who have used drugs. I haven’t had anyone in my family die yet. I did have a very wonderful neighbor who passed away. I am SO sorry for your loss. Really the only one who I thought was a part of my family who died was my dog. I am very sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m so sorry for your loss Courtney. I’m at a loss at what else to say, grief is never easy, and because of the circumstances of his death, there’s probably lots of other conflicting emotions going on for you and your family too. Spend lots of time together, and hopefully time will help you come to term with your loss ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That was beautiful ❣️
    As I have years in my eyes, I have peace to know he is at Jesus’s side. God Bless you and your precious family ❣️
    Still praying for you all🙏❣️😘

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Courtney, my heart still aches for you and your family. Enduring addiction with a loved one is an incredibly challenging road and to loose someone to drugs is as you say a mix of emotions. I have lost many friends to addiction and grew up with an addicted parent who by the grace of spirit managed to stay clean for many years now. I continue to pray for you and your loved ones and wish you all peace through such a devastating loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Courtney, my heart aches for you. I am sorry…this has to be the hardest thing to grieve for him even as you must feel a host of other feelings. The kid, the girlfriend, your family…my heart goes out to you all. Your childhood memories of your brother are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. May he Rest In Peace. My condolences to you and your family. So sad to read this. He was way too young. Fuck drugs and addiction…it ruins so many lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Recently I lost an uncle to suicide. I’ve learned that once it’s done, the only thing you can do is simply help others going through the same thing. For me I got more familiar with signs of suicide, for you maybe volunteering in a rehabilitation setting would help. Making a contribution to something that has crippled your family gives you a better grounding, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am so sorry sweetheart. We feel the sting of your pain as we deal with the same. We have friends,and family whom suffer from drugs,and the misuse of them.My heart and prayers are with you. You need me ..just call. 864-764-0239 LOVE YOU.


  16. I’m so sorry for your loss Courtney, I’m praying for you and your family. I can only imagine what you and your family are going through right now.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I am lost for words.My deepest condolences for you and your family. I remember the good ole times we had a HCS you made me and my sister feel welcomed as it was a new environment being in a private school.I will continue to pray for you and you Family.I so sorry addiction is no joke and to be taken lightly. Your brother was a kindhearted soul who was the center of attention. May God be with you all in this difficult time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the condolences! I miss those fun times at HCS- those were the good ole days!! Thank you for the prayers, we really appreciate them. I only hope this can stand as a warning to others to not dabble with drugs! Hope all is well with you. 🙂


  18. I’m so sorry to hear what happened to your brother. My condolences to you and your family. Drug addiction is a serious disease. Once an addict, almost always an addict. So if someone manages to get clean and stay clean – it’s not only rare, but they are a very strong person. I’m sorry your brother caved and fell into that addiction to the extent he ended his life for it. To be honest, I’ve never met my one half brother because for the last 15 years he’s been in and out of jail and rehab for heroin. He always falls back to it. And it makes me sad because he’s 30 and he’s aged so much. I’ve never met him because he’s been involved with this drug, and because he’s been doing it so long, I don’t think he’s going to stop. Heroin is a nasty drug.


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