Remembering Joe

Three years ago today….my brother died. Alone.

I had just talked to him the day before. Sent him a pizza for dinner. Planned to get together over the weekend.

He was doing well in his recovery. I thought.

My dad got a call October 4th, a call my parents had been praying never to get.

We don’t know the details, because people living in the house with him didn’t call the police right away. They took his phone and erased things that could implicate them. The let him lie there.

I hate thinking about what his final moments may have been like. I hate knowing his life ended in such a sad and lonely way.

I know he didn’t want to die. I hate that hope died with him.

I think of my brother often. I talk to him at night before I sleep, hoping we can meet somehow in my dreams so I can hug him and know he’s ok.

This week the memories from three years ago demand to be relived. And so today, on October 3rd…. the day Joe died…. I spend the day wondering what was he doing at this time? And now at this time? Was he still alive right now, at 8pm? When did it happen, when did he die? Did he know he was dying? Did he feel alone?

And tomorrow. The 4th… I get the call from my dad. And I go crazy with grief all over again.

And every day, up to the 10th, when we lay him to rest. It’s still so clear.

My poor mom.

My poor dad.

We have gotten to the point of being able to remember him without always crying. We often laugh in memory of things he’s said and done. We discuss things he would have liked. We remember him with love. We miss him.

But still, this week is hard. I guess I didn’t expect to feel so raw, like it just happened all over again.

The need for one of his hugs, for his one-dimpled smile, for HIM to comfort ME is great.

So I wait. And have faith.

I have to believe that he is waiting for all of us that love and miss him…. and one day my mom will have all of her kids together again.


Tagalong scandal

They look innocent and delicious. Don't be deceived.

They look innocent and delicious. Don’t be deceived.

I sit here, just seething.

There is a box of tagalongs right behind me on the counter. An OPEN box. The fact that I am even able to write this without chomping on one, and then another, and then another….. means there is something seriously wrong.

Like, the world might be ending kind of wrong.

If there is one thing I can always count on to illustrate my complete lack of self control with regard to junk food… it’s girl scout cookies, right?? Well, apparently the girl scouts must think they are doing me some kind of favor, but I don’t see it that way. It feels more like mutiny to me. And I don’t even know if I’m using that word properly, not being a sailor and all…but it feels like the best word to capture my feelings of betrayal.

Let me tell you a little story. A story of dreams being shattered.

I am, like many of you, a very, very strong supporter of the girl scouts. I donate to them without fail every year, buying boxes and boxes of cookies. Because it’s a good cause. Now, I’ve gotten into the habit of eating these cookies, sometimes even eating most of the cookies before anyone else in the house can find them. This is how I keep obesity from claiming more victims. It’s selfless, really.

My favorites are always the same. Tagalongs. Samoas. Thin mints. And a few other boxes just for variety. But those three, those are the staples. Thoughts of those cookies are what keeps me going during the rest of the year, and able to turn up my nose at the Keebler elves shoddy imitations sitting on the grocery store shelves. I’ve never cheated.

My internal cookie clock started going off around January. I called my cookie contact. Not time to order yet. After much impatient waiting, I got my order in. Extra boxes of everything. Then more impatient waiting. Why do they make you order so early and then wait, and wait before those cookies come in??

I would call up my cookie friend, listen half-heartedly to some blah-blah-blah about her life…then cut her off. “Where are the cookies??” GEEEZ, not in yet??!!

By the time they came, I was practically twitching in anticipation.

There they were, boxes and boxes of those coveted cookies. Sitting on my counter. Waiting for me. I grabbed the tagalongs, my absolute FAVORITE. Took one. Decided to take 4 instead. Headed up to fold laundry, giving myself about 10 minutes before I had to come down for more.

so far, so good.

so far, so good.

I ate the first cookie. Hmmmm, didn’t feel anything close to orgasmic. Tried another. WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?!

They don’t taste the same! They are missing something critical. Something that would guarantee my self loathing after inhaling a good half box in one sitting. I nibbled on the third cookie, trying to figure out the difference. It just…. didn’t have it. That special something was gone. I eyed the last cookie. For the first time in my life, not wanting it. I ate it, just in case. But still disappointed.

Where are you hiding?? I need you-secret amazing ingredient!!!

Where are you hiding?? I need you-secret amazing ingredient!!!

I called my friend and cookie supplier. Trying to be calm. “What in gods name happened to the tagalongs!!??? I can’t even eat anymore! What did they do!!??”  She wasn’t sure. But did mention that some cookies are made at different bakeries and so will taste different from bakery to bakery. She’s right. But I’m still thinking corners are being cut. Someone found cheaper ingredients. Someone decided to sneak a smidge less peanut butter in each cookie. Whatever the case, I am suffering.

One might think I would be grateful for the removal of such an obvious object of weakness for me. No thanks. I would rather be the one to overcome my cookie addiction on my own terms. I don’t WANT help!!

I don’t know what this means for the future, my future with the girl scouts. Thank god, the samoas are still as addictive as they can possibly be. I just try to ignore the label as it keeps trying to remind me each cookie is 70 calories. I imagine it’s better to get all those calories in during one sitting and just be done with it, rather than spread them over any reasonable amount of time.

Consider this your public service announcement. Lest you too find yourself with far too much self control around cookies that have always been able bend you to their will in the past. It’s scary.

Did I just buy Heroin??

I may have just spent $200 on Heroin. Or maybe cocaine, alcohol, narcotics… I’m not sure.

I didn’t want to do it. I was mad, worried, and hopeful that I was just being suspicious.

But I did it. Because I didn’t have the guts to say no.

To my brother.

Because I love him. And he went through rehab. And I want to believe he really needed the money to fix his car.

But did he really need me to western union him the money right NOW on a Saturday night?

So urgently did he call, and text. I tried to ignore it because he just got my sister and my parents to send him money for this car last week. Last week when he was also urgently calling and texting me, but thank god I was at work so could not get back to him. The problem is, his car WAS impounded, I think. That’s what he needed it for last week, to get it out of the impound lot. This week, he needs the money to pay for the parts before the mechanic will order them because my brother doesn’t have car insurance…and the guy doesn’t want to get screwed.

Well, it sounds like it COULD be legit.

And I really want to believe that he is still clean.

But as he’s telling me this story yesterday…..and sounding so believable. And so much like my little brother who I love and want to protect….I have this inner voice just screaming at me, how STUPID can you be to listen to this guy!!! This is the guy who lied to your face, EVERYONE’s face before you forced him into rehab and you ALL wanted to believe him then too!! And really, as I am listening to him complain about the mechanic, and how horrible he feels for asking for money, I hear him and it’s so hard to turn my back on him. It’s so hard to hear that voice and remember that it might sound like him, but it’s probably the drugs talking. Again.

What mechanic needs $200 on a Saturday night suddenly right NOW, causing little brother to start calling and texting me and my sister, until he got one of us to call him back, or finally answer. His desperation. Now that it’s over, I see how desperate he was. TOO desperate for just car parts… especially for a car that he doesn’t even need, he doesn’t even have a job that he needs to drive to!

I hated him and loved him as I heard his voice, the hope in it, and the shame in it. I hated myself for not being strong enough, for not knowing the “right thing” to say….the right question to ask that would allow him to admit what he’s been up to. I alternated between yelling at him and telling him I loved him. I elicited promises from him that the money was truly for his car. He gave me the name of the mechanic, the name of his shop. So it must be legit, right??? I told him NEVER to ask me for money again, I would not give it. Then I apologized. I told him if he is screwing me over I will never ever speak to him again. Then I apologized. I told him he has to pay me back, and I apologized again for being suspicious. All the while still suspicious. I hate this!! I told him I wish I could just lock him up in my basement, he laughed. I made him promise to get me documentation from the mechanic showing the cost of the parts, and receipt of my $200. Of course, he promised. I felt horrible saying these things, not wanting to hurt him, not wanting him to feel I don’t believe in him.

I did it because I was afraid that he might be telling the truth…..and how would I feel knowing I let him down if he really needed my help? But I’m an ass. Because truth or not, I don’t trust him yet. I might not ever, and I think I just bought him drugs.

After I wired the money, he must have called 5 times. It wasn’t there fast enough. Then the fraud department from Western Union called me. Weird questions. What is my relationship to this person, how old am I, what main road do I live by…. the last question I really had a hard time with. “Ma’am, did you want to send this money?” I sputtered around, “What do you mean? Do you know something I don’t?” “Are you asking if I’m being coerced??” The lady didn’t directly answer that. She kind of laughed, and asked again. “Ma’am, I just need to know if you did really want to send this money?”

“NO.” I told her, truthfully. “I really didn’t want to, but he said he needed it, so I felt like I had to.”

She said she understood.

I wish I understood. I wish I hadn’t done it.

Heroin. I want to punch you in the face.