His name is Charlie Minton, and he’s my big brother. He would be 33 years old, but sadly, he passed away seven birthdays ago in 2010. I haven’t really talked about him here before because, well, it’s personal. It’s personal and saddening and quite the departure from the usual shoes / handbags / home decor talk around here, but life’s about much more than “stuff” and My Style Diaries is, after all, my personal space. So here goes…
Like I said, he’s my big brother. And like many big brother / little sister relationships go, growing up we fought like cats and dogs. Seriously, always on each other’s last nerves. Even now, when I hear a couple of siblings arguing in the grocery store, I think, man, my parents must have been so annoyed with us. Ha! But he’s my big brother, so at the end of the day, he had my back, and I had his.
By the time we both graduated from high school and started college, we were buddies. I guess it’s true what they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder. So does no longer sharing a bathroom with your dirty older brother. (Truth be told, I’m actually the messy one in this scenario, but that’s neither here nor there.) We could actually hang out, relate to each other, and laugh with (or at) each other.
Through the years, though, something changed in Charlie. He developed depression, and its side effects began to take over his thoughts and his life. There were really good times and also some bad, but the good ones are the ones we hold onto. The last time I saw my brother alive, it was Thanksgiving night of 2010. We had dinner with the entire family, and then went to a local bar with my cousin Coby. It was a really great night. We laughed so much. He was happy. Happier than I’d seen him in a while. And all was right in the world.
Charlie died six days later on December 1st, 2010. He left behind beyond-loving parents and extended family, friends who filled a church with tears, and a sister with no more siblings on this Earth. We’ve heard that the reason that he had such a great Thanksgiving is because he had already made his choice and was at total peace with it. I can’t really understand that. I will never understand the choice that he made, and in some ways, I’m happy that I can’t. But for those out there who are dealing with similar feelings of darkness and despair, there is hope. There is love. There are SO many people around you who value your presence in this world. SO many people who never want to fill a church to mourn your loss.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and I thought it was time that I finally help share a little light and awareness for a cause that is so dear to me. Next Wednesday, September 20th, I’ll be partnering with Kendra Scott for a Kendra Gives Back Party at Fashion Island. 20% of the proceeds from the event will go to the With Hope Foundation which aims to facilitate suicide prevention through mental health education.
If you’re in the Orange County area, I’d LOVE to see you there. And if you’re not, you can still help support through your purchases. Phone orders (with free shipping!) can be made during the event by calling 949-258-9285 – just have your favorite pieces from the site ready.
Phew, and there it is. This blog post was admittedly about a week late and a long time in the making. I didn’t really know where to start, what to say. Sometimes I may not say the right thing, but at the end of the day I do know this. I’m so grateful that I had 24 years with my brother, that I have amazing parents, family and friends and the most supportive husband that helped me through it, and that I have this space to share it with you guys. And I thank you guys so much in advance for all of your support.
Lisa SniderSeptember 12, 2017 at 6:50 am (6 years ago)
So sorry for your loss. I’m glad to see the education component come to the forefront rather than just on prevention.
Lisa SniderSeptember 12, 2017 at 11:20 am (6 years ago)
And I will be there!
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:25 pm (6 years ago)
So glad! Looking forward to seeing you there!
Lisa SniderSeptember 20, 2017 at 4:41 pm (6 years ago)
Well, darn, I came down with a cold, so I just called in an order. I hope the event is a great success.
Kathleen @ Carrie Bradshaw LiedSeptember 12, 2017 at 6:53 am (6 years ago)
Thank you for taking the time to bring attention to suicide prevention and sharing your story. I love hearing about Charlie and what he meant to your family. I can’t wait to come to Kendra Scott and support you and this cause! Love you lots xoxo
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:43 pm (6 years ago)
Thanks so much, Kitty Kat. So glad to have you there. Love you! xoxo
CassydySeptember 12, 2017 at 7:03 am (6 years ago)
You truly inspire me. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are so courageous to do so.
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm (6 years ago)
Thanks, Cass! Inspired by you too, my dear xoxo
KathrynSeptember 12, 2017 at 7:27 am (6 years ago)
That was beautiful, Nikki. I’m so proud of you for putting your thoughts and feelings down so eloquently, and sharing them with the people who love you. You and Charlie were lucky to have each other and I know for a fact how proud your parents are of both of you! Much love to you….. ❤️
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:36 pm (6 years ago)
Thanks so much! Glad to hear it came out eloquently instead of the blubbering mess that it began with. xoxo
KatieSeptember 12, 2017 at 7:42 am (6 years ago)
This is so brave of you to share with everyone Nikki. It is important we keep Charlie’s spirit alive, and I love reminiscing about his life. Love you lots! Wish I was there for your event. Xoxo
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:35 pm (6 years ago)
Love you, MOO!
Nancy LitwakSeptember 12, 2017 at 7:44 am (6 years ago)
Thanks for sharing, Nikki. I’m sorry for the loss of your brother, but it seems as though you’ve been able to look at the good you had with him, which is so important. My brother also suffered from depression and fell victim to suicide the year after I moved out of that “apartment above the garage” behind y’all in Newport Beach. It’s always positive to see people talking about this stuff, so to alleviate the stigma of mental illness – I appreciate your post! Thanks again. Hope y’all are doing great!
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:34 pm (6 years ago)
Oh Nancy, I’m so sorry for your loss as well! Definitely not a club we want to be a part of, but not one to be ashamed of either. You were always such a positive person, hope you’re doing great as well! xoxo
Ms. LisaSeptember 12, 2017 at 7:49 am (6 years ago)
That was the most beautifully written tribute to a brother you loved so dearly (and still do). God bless Nikki xoxo
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm (6 years ago)
Thank you, Mrs. Lisa!
ChristineSeptember 12, 2017 at 8:07 am (6 years ago)
Hi Nikki. Since I’m in Italy I’d like to make a monetary donation in your brother’s name. Can you give me the name of a good organization? You a brave woman. Your brother would be proud. Love you. Xoxo
Ms. GingerSeptember 12, 2017 at 9:20 am (6 years ago)
Beautifully written, Nikki. I know this was not easy for you to do, nor was it easy for me to read. I’m so proud of you. I still miss him. xoxo
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:30 pm (6 years ago)
Thank you, Mrs. Ginger! I miss him too. And miss you guys xoxo
Rita TalbotSeptember 12, 2017 at 12:40 pm (6 years ago)
Big brother still taking care of little sister!! I sense the difficulty in writing this acknowledgement of Charlie’s death. Know that it was so very tastefully done….with love, validation of the event and that willingness to bring forth awareness of mental health and willing to work ‘for the cause!!’ God bless you, lil sister…..big brother must be smiling at you…..no doubt!! ♥
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:25 pm (6 years ago)
Thank you so much for your comment! It definitely was not an easy one to write, but I’m happy to know that it came across with the intent that I had in mind.
Tess FelberSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:05 pm (6 years ago)
I am so deeply sorry for your loss and for sharing this intimate part of your life with us. I truly believe you have a special place as an influencer that you do have the possibility to save a life. You are lucky your last time with him was so happy, holding onto the best memories are what keeps you going.
xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black
NikkiSeptember 12, 2017 at 2:22 pm (6 years ago)
Thank you so much for the kind words, Tess. I hope my brother’s story can be beneficial to at least one person who reads it 🙂
BrynSeptember 12, 2017 at 7:32 pm (6 years ago)
Thank you for sharing this story. I know it took a lot of courage. Depression can be devastating. As you know, it is beyond their control. God bless you and your family.
Karen WilliamsSeptember 12, 2017 at 10:13 pm (6 years ago)
So brave, so eloquent and so heartfelt. I too am grateful that your last memory of him was a happy one. Charlie would be so proud of his little sister and although your parents miss him every day, I know you bring them much joy which blesses them immensely. The pictures are beautiful and of course I love the sweet memory of him on your bouquet.
Judy PoimboeufSeptember 13, 2017 at 12:55 am (6 years ago)
Hugs ❤️ From your physical education teacher at St Joseph Elementary. So proud of you!
Elizabeth WalcavichSeptember 13, 2017 at 9:46 am (6 years ago)
You’re stronger than I- I don’t think I could ever write something like this. This is really touching, Nikki.
GabrielleSeptember 15, 2017 at 10:31 am (6 years ago)
Thank you for having the courage to share this story. I know you’re doing a lot of good.
JoshSeptember 16, 2017 at 1:10 pm (6 years ago)
Thank you for sharing…i was only in Charlie’s life for a short time and he talked about you often…i miss him daily…thank you for sharing and good luck with your event.