Bad Good Days

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I went to my parents house today for a little family get together and early Fathers Day celebration.

After eating the requisite grilled meat and other cookout fare, we started a game of corn hole. It started out slow, with me showing off my excellent skills of throwing past the board. My 8 year old was my partner, and together we managed to end the game at 11 – 0. We did not win.

My parents then joined, my mom partnered with my brother in law, and my dad with my sister.

Since the parents were standing at the same board, they didn’t realize they were on different teams until about halfway through their game. Thanks to skills of their partners, that game lasted much longer than my 10 minute warm up session.

At one point I decided to go inside and start cleaning up so we could bring out the cake.

I watched my family from the kitchen window as I worked.  I saw my parents laughing, really laughing. It was the kind of laughing we took for granted before Joe died. That completely happy in the moment laughing that is so hard to chase down since he left us.

Of course, when I feel happiness, I feel Joe’s loss right along with it. I saw my family, and I especially noticed that I DIDN’T see my brother. He wasn’t laughing with us as we teased Dad about how he used to mix all the old cereal together when we were growing up. He wasn’t making fun of the parents with us as they learned how to navigate the game of corn hole. He wasn’t there. But his loss was there with us, always with us.

I probably imagined what Joe would say or do about something at least 10 times today. Him being there, and being healthy with us would have been so wonderful. And it hurts to laugh without him.

As I left them, my mom walked me to the door. As we said our goodbyes, she put my thoughts into words. She had felt his loss today, like every day. And because of that, every day is a bad day automatically. Today was a bad day and a good day, and we have to get used to this.

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Story of three birds

birds

 

It has been a really, really long time since I’ve posted.

I am attempting to find the time to find myself again, so tonight this is my therapy.

I would like to tell you about something, and I want to write it down so it STAYS, and it will be remembered.

My brother died.

He died like a lot of brothers, and sons, and fathers, and sisters, and mothers, and wives and people we LOVE are dying.

He chose heroin that one last time.  Because he’d been doing so well, he must have thought he could get away with it. Just once more.

And so the story begins in the worst way, getting a call from my dad as I was leaving the funeral of someone else I loved. I hate to think about that phone call, and my reaction. Pounding the steering wheel as I drove and screamed and cried and screamed all the way to my parents house. Calling my sister. Walking up the driveway together. Seeing our parents. Dying inside.

And coping the only way I knew, by staying really busy, and trying not to think about whose funeral we were planning, and how we were actually going to have to admit that he was really gone.

So it was the next night, well, about 2am. I was busy working on the funeral program. Not tired, just focused on making it the best damn funeral program ever. Something that he would like, something that somehow would convey just how much he meant to us, and how special he was, and how much he will be missed.

Finally, I decide I needed to get to bed. As I’m getting my pajamas, then lingering over more photos of my brother, I talk to him silently. Why??!  Why?! I want answers, I want to be mad at him, but I can’t be. I know he didn’t mean to die. I want to know he’s ok. I just need to know, please Joe…. can you let me know you’re ok?

I’d gotten to the point of numbness eventually, exhausted and mechanically brushing my teeth, the last person awake in a silent house. By the time I was rinsing off my face, I realized there was this….noise…. it’d been going on for a while somewhere in my head. It was like when you notice the TV is still on after you’ve tuned it out for so long….

I focused in on this sound…. and realized it was a song. What the…… I was hearing the words of a Bob Marley song over and over in my head.

Don’t worry about a thing…..

’cause every little thing

gonna be alright….

Complete with background music. I wasn’t thinking this…..I was HEARING this.

Now my brother was a bit of a Bob Marley fan. He had T-Shirts, he could play those songs on the guitar, He dressed up like Bob Marley for Halloween in college.

But I never thought of these songs. I just knew what it was when I heard it. And I believed I knew why I was hearing it. It was days later we found a video of him singing this song…. those exact words.

I never even knew the name of that song until we tried to find it and play it after I told my family. Three little birds. We all have it downloaded now. We played it a lot leading up the funeral. We played it at the gravesite as our friends and family said their goodbye to my little brother. As the rest of us, the four remaining siblings, stood together and cried, and said goodbye too.

It’s a small comfort, but a comfort just the same.