"We are all broken.
That's how the light gets in."
Devon graced our world on June 13, 1995. As a boy he was always smiling, full of energy and mischief. He loved to dance... we thought of him as a free spirit. As the years went on, Devon stayed quite active, much preferring outdoor activities over school. He became somewhat of a thrill seeker and risk taker. When he did go to class, he took on the role of class clown and was labeled a troublemaker. While we looked for ways to manage his exuberance, we never really worried about him. We always figured he would grow out of it.
Fast forward to middle school, Devon was diagnosed with ADHD. This was tough on Devon - once labeled, he could never shake the stigma. He always felt different which influenced his behavior from that day forward. That feeling became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Devon was medicated -- but not by choice.
Devon’s problems in school grew worse. He began ignoring social norms and battled authority. To make matters worse, he refused any kind of help; chemical or therapeutic. And although he projected a tough exterior, Devon struggled with depression, anxiety and a lack of self-esteem. He became incredibly moody. Although deep down we worried, we felt helpless and settled into accepting his behavior as part of just being a "difficult kid." It was too painful to admit the severity of his challenges.
After high school Devon took on odd jobs. He moved out of the house; life at home was way too stressful for everyone. When his friends moved on to college, Devon began to feel even more insecure and continued to make poor choices for himself. To be honest, he was simply not equipped to handle this next phase of his life.
Devon's downward spiral was swift. He locked himself away from the world in his apartment often using Xanax and marijuana to self-medicate. We tried everything we could, from doctors, to wilderness programs, to therapeutic boarding schools. We were at wits end, feeling like we had no where else to turn. Things got so bad that he moved home. For a brief time, the family relationship improved and we saw glimmers of hope. We thought he had finally turned the corner. But that was not to last long.
Devon was only 20 when he took his life on November 13, 2015.
When we look back, we now recognize that the signs were there. They were everywhere. Some we missed, others we read. But regardless, we didn't really know how to help him.
Sadly, our story is all too common and it is our deep desire that by sharing Devon’s story, we can help prevent another family from suffering the unbearable loss of someone they love to suicide. There is so much more they leave behind than just their belongings.
Don’t let their story end;
Liz and Mitchell Rubenstein
Don’t compare your life to others.
There is no comparison between the sun and the moon.
They shine when it’s their time.
My best friend and only brother took his life on November 13th 2015.
Devon was unlike any other person in the world. He never wanted to be like anyone else or tried to be someone he wasn’t. He was different and I loved him for that. Although he wore a careless, tough guy persona, Devon suffered from extreme depression. Never wanting to worry my parents or me, he would try to hide his pain.
I spent my whole childhood with my big brother. We did everything together; beach trips, bubble baths, amusement parks rides and lots of sports. As we grew older we moved in different directions yet we always stayed extremely close. Never mind that Devon was the “trouble-maker” while I was the “good child.” While Devon was being sent to therapeutic boarding school, I was running for class president. People were always surprised to learn that we were brother and sister because we seemed so different. But everyone who knew us well, understood that Devon and I were alike in more ways than we were different. We shared the same stupid humor, killer dance moves, and deep love for those we cared about.
When the time came for me to leave for college, my excitement was dampened with concern because I would be 5+ hours away from Devon. Although he was working and living on his own, he was not stable emotionally. It wasn’t long before I got a panicked call from him; his apartment was broken into and he had been held at knifepoint. Petrified and desperate, he moved back into my parents’ home. My brother never fully recovered from that experience. And although his relationship with my parents got stronger, he sunk deeper into depression.
Despite my best efforts at helping him, he remained at rock bottom. I would try to brighten his mood by texting him things like “Only one more month till I come home for thanksgiving break;” I received nothing back. My last text to him begged him to promise that he wouldn’t do anything stupid, to wait for me to come home so we could talk. He replied, “Ok”. That was our last conversation.
Then, in the afternoon of Friday, November 13th, I received a “goodbye” email from Devon. In tears, I frantically called my brother’s phone over and over again, willing him to answer. I called my mom, screaming and crying. Trying to calm me down, she assured me that the police were out looking for him. Next I called all of my brother’s closest friends; had they seen or heard from him? Everyone was as clueless as I was. I even tried to track his phone but it was useless. Minutes felt like decades, as I waited to hear back from my parents. My mom called about an hour later; she just kept repeating “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.” In that moment, my world stopped. My heart was pounding, I was sick to my stomach, and tears were running down my face. My mom muttered, “He’s gone” and I kept screaming “NO”… forcing my worst nightmare to go away.
In my grief-stricken fog, I packed and made my way home. A girl from my floor helped me and drove me home. I can never thank her enough for that; I was in no state to drive by myself. I arrived home after midnight, still in a tear-soaked haze. I could not look at my parents without crying. My head filled with questions. Questions to which there were no answers.
It has been seven painful years since my brother’s death. Some days are manageable. Some days I cry myself to sleep. I’ve come to accept the fact that he isn’t coming back, and that I will always have unanswered questions.
Losing Devon is the hardest thing I have had to go through. I am now alone. He has left my life, but he will never leave my heart;
5 years ago 5 minutes from now
my soul was crushed
I had just gotten back home from my 8 am class and little did I know
how heavy life for myself and my friends was about to get
I received a call from the sister of a very close friend of mine
no hello or how are you; straight to the question:
"Parsa, Devon's missing, do you have any idea where he would be?"
I began choking on my tongue as I couldn't pull the words together to tell her that I
had just spoken to him on the phone just that morning on my drive to campus
(we had made plans to meet up after I got out of my 4:30 lecture.)
Once I regained control of myself I told her, "relax, let me see what I can do."
I immediately jumped back into the car and started driving toward a spot I know
he frequently visited alone (a cutoff of Berryville Road in Darnestown. He loved and knew
backroads better than anyone I know, his street IQ was next level).
As I drove down Quince Orchard Road I attempted to call him several times
though he had disconnected his line. It was during my third or fourth phone call attempt
then I see traffic build up ahead in an area near the horse center where traffic never is.
15 cars away, I could only see that cars were being asked to turn around to find another route to their destination.
I finally get close enough to see a police deputy a detective arrowing to make u-turns.
My heart at this point was a rock, my chest felt so heavy and my body was so hot.
When my turn came around I rolled down my window and questioned the detective with my ghostly eyes
Me: "Is this about Devon?"
Her: "What?" (looking shocked)
Me: "Is this about Devon Rubenstein?"
She told me to pull over and turn my engine off.
She asked me: "what is your name and what is your connection to Mr. Rubenstein?"
At this moment, the climax struck and my legs gave out, forcing the detective to pull me close to her and wrapping her arms around me as I dug my face into her chest releasing an uncontrollable amount of tears and hysteria.
Close enough to see the ambulance and his grey Jetta under a tarp in the near distance solidified in my mind that I had lost not only an amazing friend, rider, companion but also a brother.
It's important to understand that at that given moment, his mother, father, sister and lover were searching for a missing Devon. My hands closed to a fist and I couldn't open them. I felt stuck and empty....
I felt that I was too late. I knew where he was, but I was too late.
My intention from sharing this experience is to stress the urgency to be aware.
Be observant and open with your friends and family.
We all have pain and pressure that shapes us, allow it to....
When you fight that pain is when we really get hurt.
The quickest way to burst your ego is to see that shit in real life.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about Devon. Our memories. Our plans.
And ultimately my own experiences with suicide.
Every territory has its battles. Do your best. And be kind.
We are stronger than we think we are and far more fragile than we appear to be.