Monthly Archives: October 2012

Ripples

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Today, I went to the doctor because I had another cold I can’t seem to shake. It turns out I have allergies, which sucks, but maybe now that I know what I’m dealing with, I can start feeling better. The thing is: I hadn’t been to this doctor before, so I had to fill out the new patient paperwork.

When I got to the family history section, it asked for ages and physical health status and cause of death where applicable for each of my immediate family members: father, mother… brother.

In my mind, “deceased” has always been a word for grandparents and other older relatives. It’s not supposed to apply to your baby brother. I managed not to completely lose it in the patient waiting room, but the ripples of loss never seem to end.

Will I ever be able to answer the question, “So, do you have any siblings?” without crying? I’m not supposed to be an only child again. It feels like I am always just one question away from tears.

The loss of one of my favorite people on the planet just keeps on hitting.

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Lighting fires in everyone he met

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If any of his songs clearly defined the kind of person Joey was, it was Circle A at the Circle K. You don’t have to be an anarchist to appreciate that Joey was his own person, committed to living a meaningful life. He didn’t ever just exist, and he encouraged others to get the most out of life, too. He was a warrior for getting things done and being real. As sad as I am about losing him, I won’t let sorrow quench the fire he lit in me.

Missing

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Yesterday was Nate’s and Nash’s second birthday. For anyone who doesn’t know, they are my identical twin sons. The last time I saw Joey was when he came to town for my older son’s third birthday back in May. Before that, I hadn’t seen him since he was here shortly after Nate & Nash were born.

The boys had a great day, between the cake, presents, and a trip to the pumpkin patch, and I enjoyed it with them, but somewhere in the back of my heart, there was an ache. I couldn’t help thinking that this is how birthdays and Thanksgiving and Christmas will be now – no Uncle Joe coming into town to make it extra special. I keep thinking about how much fun he would have had with them. He never got to see how their personalities have developed, how funny they are in their own different ways.

I see glimpses of Joey in my boys – Nash’s whole-body commitment to getting a laugh, Noah’s outrageous imagination, Nate’s comforting hugs. I try to hold onto the joy of remembering the great things about him, but it doesn’t make the missing go away.

Before Joey’s death, I’d never lost anyone other than older relatives whom I loved but didn’t really know well. I was sad at their deaths, but never so lost. Joey was almost 7 years younger than me, but we had a close bond. We understood each other in some ways that no one else could. That I will always miss.

But there’s more to the missing, too. Missing the Joey he was becoming. Before his last visit, Joe had told Mom he was tired of being angry, and I think he had come into a new era of his life. When he came to visit, I saw that there was a lightness to him that I had not seen before. He seemed to just really be present in the moment. I wanted to ask him what had changed, but the opportunity never availed itself. Probably I figured there was plenty of time, time to see what came of the change. So when I say that I miss him, it’s not just the things I remember; it is also the things that were to come.

Joey lived his life to the fullest for over 27 years, but 27 years isn’t all he had in him. We’ll never know what else he might have done, where else he would have gone, how he would have changed (though I’m sure much would have stayed the same – his passion and loyalty and his zeal for life).

The worst part of this missing is its interminability. Despite my belief that I will see Joey again, the rest of my life on this earth will be lived without him. The missing hurts so much, but it also spurs me to change myself. Because the other thing I’ve realized is that in all of my 34 years, there has been so much living that¬†I have been missing. So much I could have done if I just believed in myself.

Joey would never want to be an excuse not to participate in life. Missing him isn’t a reason not to live. In fact, it’s a reason to squeeze all the juice out of life. It’s a reason not to miss a single drop.

(Seriously, I think I’ve seen Nash strike this same pose)

Love is…

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I have always loved my brother, but there were times when I really didn’t understand him. I never let those things get in the way of my love for him, but it did bother me that I couldn’t understand things like why he didn’t bathe regularly.

Now that he’s gone, I wonder why I didn’t try harder to understand. Because it’s pretty obvious that his whole life was about breaking free from cultural norms and saying, “Hey, I don’t have to look (or smell) ¬†like you to be awesome and successful at life.” Read the rest of this entry