I haven’t written anything in a few days because every time I sit down to write, I feel the complete and utter deficiency of words to express my feelings of loss or to adequately describe the magnitude of significance of the life lived by Joseph Carroll.
I write…I delete…I try again. And then I cry. Because you’re gone, because so many people will never know how special you were, and because I’ll never get another chance to tell you how much I admire you.
You lived your life to the fullest, never letting others hold you back and always pushing others forward to do the things they’d only dreamed. I want to be like you… only like me, and I think that’s all you’d want.
I got another tattoo on my arm, a rose to remember. I think you’d like it. It’s extremely conspicuous right there on the top of my right wrist where anyone who shakes my hand is bound to see it. It’s not on my neck, but to me, it says, “Never Betray.” It says, “Stop being afraid to stand out.” It says, “I’ll never be the same again.” It says, “Don’t wait to live until you die.”
One of Joey’s friends said that he was always the one who did stuff and inspired other people to do stuff. He’d say, “I’m going on a ride.” And they might whine, “I’m tired” or “It’s too hot” or some other lame response. And he’d say, “Stay home, chumps. Chumps stay home.”
He challenged people to be better, but he didn’t push. He just had this essence that made you want to be more like him. I often found myself doing things with my little brother that I’d never consider doing with anyone else – like strapping myself into a metal cage attached to 30-ft cables and catapulted into the air like a slingshot (a ride at an amusement park), but somehow he made the decision to DO something the obvious choice. You always wanted him to respect you, not just because he was cool (although he was) but because you knew you would be a better person if you attacked life the way he did.
Over the last few years, I had grown sedentary in my life. Jobs I’d worked had required me to sit for long periods of time, and I’d gained quite a bit of weight as I’d become “fat & happy” with my husband and 3 kids. All attempts to lose weight for me had been about conforming to cultural norms, being accepted, or fitting in. But something happened to my thinking after Joey’s death. Read the rest of this entry
When I heard the news that Joey was killed, it felt as if the bottom had fallen out of my sense of reality. My brain couldn’t cope with a world in which my brother wasn’t out there making stuff happen. It just didn’t make sense. I felt a profound sense of loss, but it was more loss of clarity than the loss of his presence at first.
Joe had been living in Austin for the last two years, and I had seen him rarely over that time, though we talked on the phone and texted a bit and kept up with one another on Facebook. He had been home to Nashville just a month before to celebrate my oldest son’s third birthday and visit with family and friends for a few days, and looking back I’m so grateful for those days, though I would have made that hug goodbye last a bit longer had I known it would be my final goodbye.
We didn’t really talk about anything important, mostly we just enjoyed one another’s presence, and I think I saw a look of approval and even pride as he surveyed my little family and the way we interacted. Read the rest of this entry