Today is the anniversary of my brother's death. His name was Matthew. He was my baby brother. He died when he was 22, although he'd be 28 today. He was my best friend. I thought he was invincible. I was wrong. Here are just a few things that I learned in the first three years and a few more that I've learned since then.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I can tell you that people who say, "time heals all wounds" are full of bull. Time may cover the wound with a scab but wounds like these never heal. The best you can hope for is that it's clean and doesn't hurt every day.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I have noticed that the stories you tell about a person after they're gone never cease to be funny. For instance, once when we were little, my family was driving into town when we noticed that one of our distant neighbors were moving in a manufactured home. They had set the house up on cement blocks and my mom said to my dad, "I wonder what they've got that house up on blocks for." My (quite young) little brother piped up from the back seat, "Well, they gotta raise the house to meet the steps."
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and saying good-bye is hard. When I came home from graduate school to visit my brother in the hospital, I sat with him for awhile on the last day of the weekend. Mike went out to get the car and my parents were coming in later - so we were alone, Matt and I. I waited until the nurses had given him a sedative to help him rest because I didn't want him to see me leave. He always cried when my mom would leave for the night and I didn't think I could stand it if he cried. Once he was asleep, I went over and touched him. I said, "Good-bye, Matty. I love you." and walked out of the room. Then I'd get halfway down the hall and turn around and come back. I'd touch him again and say, "Goodbye, Matty. I love you." I did this about (no lie) eight times. I'd get halfway down the hall and think, "What if this is the last time I see him?" It was.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I am here to tell you that flatulence CAN be funny....especially when you start tooting to annoy your sister and you inadvertently "exceed the maximum capacity" of your underpants.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I know that between us we had several genius ideas before they were famous. For instance, my brother was "Goldweiner" long before Austin Powers faced down Goldmember. Granted, Matt's nickname was due to his penchant for dachshunds rather than an unfortunate smelting accident. The best was when he'd lay Chloe across his arm, stroke her back in villainesque manner, and say, "No, Mr. Bond...I expect you...to....die." Matt was also the original "Captain Underpants." A few days of lazing around in his tighty whities inspired the family to give him the moniker, "Underpants Man." Rather than being offended and always one to go in with a good joke, he soon gave Underpants Man more nemesis....es (what is the plural of that? Nemesi?)...than he knew what to do with. Including the ever popular, "Tuxedo Man" and "Fully Dressed Boy."
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I've learned that moms really mean it when they tell you they'd take your place rather than see you suffer.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and it's glaringly obvious that people who've never lost someone close to them can never understand...no matter how hard they may want to.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and to this day whenever I see feuding siblings on Judge Judy, I cry - because they've got what I want and they don't even appreciate it!
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I've found that memories are a poor substitute for a deceased loved one. When Matt died, so many people told me, "Well, at least you have some great memories." Yeah, I do. I have tons of happy memories...but what I really want is my brother back. I hated when people said that and so I make a point never to say it to others.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and my upstairs neighbor is convinced that he still visits me. She thinks so because I semi-regularly have an odd dream. Or hallucination. Or, if you believe in that sort of thing, ghostly visits. I wake up, only I'm not really awake-awake. I'm floating in the ether between sleep and awake...and I see him sitting on the edge of my bed. I mumble something along the lines of, "What are you doing in my room, spaz?" Then something clicks in my brain and I realize that Matt can not possibly be in my room and I bolt wide awake to see an empty spot on the bed. While I am pretty sure that his appearance has more to do with a wistful mind than other-worldly influence, it's nice to think that maybe he stops by sometimes.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and even though I'm not convinced that he visits me, I did get an email from "beyond his grave." (Cue the spooky music.) Once, about six months after his death, a yahoo glitch somehow either resent a message or marked it as "unread" so it popped up in my inbox. I'll give you a sample of the very beginning and the very end...which will show you both why I loved and miss him so much and why the email itself was sort of spooky. By the way, the language is slightly salty...so prepare yourself. :) Originally, I censored it to be PG-13 but then I thought about it and Matt would have been offended...so here he is in all his slightly vulgar glory.
(BEGINNING)Hey Skip Spence... whats up my moby grapian friend? If you knew ANYTHING about acid bands of the 60s you would be laughin' your ass off at that, trust me. I am one witty mutha, or brutha if you will. Sorry about missin' ya while you're on, I was asleep in the chair about 10:30. Remember when mom told ya I was having those bad tummy pains, well, I slept A LOT, while that shit was goin' on, and it whacked out my schedule a bit, and I'm still sleeping more than normal, but my hours are more normal....like 8am to 10pm normal, which is fuckin' trippy. But alas, that t'is thee thy reason for not being around. You'se digs my complications, eh?......
(END)Ok, this is the last paragraph homes, be good, and I'll try to be around tomorrow evening.....maybe about 9:30. If you ain't here, no problems, I'll catch ya another time, and I'll work on my hours so we catch each other more ok? Be good......Your Brutha, Lil Chu
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and you will never convince me that dogs don't have feelings. Matt's little dachshund, Chloe, still looks for him to show up every day. When he got sick and went to the hospital and for some time after he died, I would sometimes see her lying in his spot on the couch, waiting for him to come and sit with her or whining outside of his bedroom door - unable to understand why he didn't open up and let her in.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I have realized that losing a loved one is hard...but losing two is unbearable.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and his "legacy" lives on. I have only to utter the words "biggest ass hole in Henry County" to make Mike laugh. My mom used to go through phases where she was constantly mad at my dad. No matter what he did, it wasn't what she wanted him to do. My dad always knew they'd pass and so he didn't sweat about them...which only served to piss her off further, naturally. One of these instances occurred just before Veteran's Day. The local paper was publishing pictures of "your" veterans in the Veteran's Day issue at no charge. You could put whatever caption you wanted with the picture. We had decided we'd put in a picture of my dad and of his brother, my Uncle Tony. My dad was watching tv in the living room, while my brother was playing around on his computer (also in the living room). My mom and I were sitting at the table in the adjoining kitchen. I said, "Mom, what are we going to have them put under Dad's picture?" She snapped back, "How about "Biggest ass hole in Henry County?" In an attempt to defuse the situation, I laughed and yelled out into the living room, "Hey, Dad...did you hear what Mom just said? She's going to write 'biggest ass hole in Henry County under your picture." Then I turned back to my mom and said, "Gee...then what will we write under Uncle Tony's picture?" Without missing a beat, Matt piped up from the living room, "Brother of the biggest ass hole in Henry County."
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and although laughing with him is the thing I miss the most, I see his sense of humor all around. In myself, in my Uncle Mike - who shares it, in my Mike - who took to it right away and adopted some of it as his own, in Jeff - who I know misses it as much as I do, in my Dad - who shares with us the uncanny ability to look at a situation and think, "Matt would have loved that.", in the stories that we all tell about him, in the memories he cultivated in all of us who loved him and in the memories we have of my mom - who ached for him every second she outlived him and who passed on her sense of humor to all of her kids.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I have found out that sometimes the pain is worth it. "Mother of the best kids on Earth or in Heaven said: Who can forget the movie quotes..."stuck in the big pool for life" or "rectum?, almost killed um" or watching Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke" and he laughed every time because Chong had to follow his dog around for 3 days after the dog ate his stash of weed. I never watch "Cops" any more because it just isn't the same without his caustic remarks about the arrestees. After 3 years I still wait to hear "how was your day, Mom",when I walk in the door.----said more out of self preservation depending on how my day was, he knew how the wind was blowing. We both know we could rattle on for days and never run out of endless stories about him. I still keep his guitars and amps carefully preserved and cared for because I can't part with them. I always cry if "Amazing Grace" is played. But I also can imagine Heaven's response when he arrived with his humor, music, and love, although I'm sure things have never been the same. You have to feel sorry for people who never had a chance to meet him. The pain is worth having had Matt with us, because no way would I have missed the dance." --my mom's comment on the first "Today" post.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and I wouldn't trade the twenty-two years I had with him for any price. Some people are not meant to grow old but rather appear in our lives briefly and linger in our hearts forever.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death and the best piece of advice I (still) have to offer you is to hug those you love every day and tell them that you love them. Never let a day go by without sharing your feelings.
Today is the anniversary of my brother's death.
For Matt (12/16/80 - 06/24/03)