My brother, Jim, died by suicide on a bright day in early September, ending the darkest time in his life -- and mine. For nearly four months, I was my brother's keeper, his backup in a wild battle against depression. I promised I'd help him win. When he took his life, I pounded the ground in defeat. The puzzled hundreds at his funeral repeated a question: "How could someone so strong fall so fast?"
For many, Jim's demise was like watching a mini fall of Rome. Yet when I revisit the ruins of that summer, I'm surprised to stumble on gratitude. In his last days, Jim gave me a chance to protect and defend him, the man who had long done the same for me.