Last night, the world lost an amazing human being, and I lost my older brother, Jon.
A few things have occurred to me here:
1.) I don’t think I’ve ever really felt pain before. I mean sure, I’ve lost people, I’ve been dumped, I’ve eaten the last of the microwave popcorn and forgotten to get more… But this. This is something completely different. There is an actual physical pain in my heart that I’ve never experienced before. It’s like Jon died and left behind a tiny little man kicking the shit out of my heart, Bruce Lee-style. When they coined the term ‘brokenhearted’, I guess I know now what they really meant.
2.) The mind is an amazing thing. Memories I thought had long faded are suddenly back. Listening to 8-track tapes in my parents’ room and pretending to be The Chipmunks (He was Alvin. I was Theodore. There was no third chipmunk. We were enough.); The time he slashed his leg open pretending to be Freddy Krueger. Our family road trip out west when he ordered the Short Stack of pancakes at every single restaurant we stopped at along the way. Listening to Casey Kasem’s Top 40 together, and waiting for Van Halen’s ‘Jump!’ to be number one again for the 12th week in a row. Listening to Pointer Sisters records in the basement. Jon introducing me to the scary German music that is Rammstein. Jon’s karaoke version of ‘Big Balls’, and subsequent drunken fall off the stage at my other brother’s wedding. Watching ‘The Breakfast Club’ so much we could recite every single word. It’s either a cruel joke or an incredible blessing the things you remember when someone’s gone. I haven’t yet decided which.
3.) I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to NOT have three older brothers. I don’t know how NOT to have holidays that include Jon piling enough food on his plate to feed a small country. I don’t know how NOT to call him to fix my laptop because I’m horrible with computers. I don’t know how to NOT to say “Awwwww Jon!” in unison with my two other brothers when Jon rips one at family gatherings. (We’re a gassy bunch.) Nothing will be the same. Ever. I know people say change is good, but frankly, this change, for lack of a better term, sucks.
4.) I’m pissed. Royally. Pissed that there are people who are allowed to live long, healthy, full lives, who are far less deserving than Jon. He was genuine, he had an amazing soul, and one of the greatest hearts of anyone I know. The fact that he never had the chance to fall in love, get married, have kids, and grow old just pisses me off. There’s supposed to be a reason for everything, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why my incredible, smart, and big-hearted brother was taken at just 40 years old.
But in the end, as angry, as confused, and as overwhelmed with sadness as I am, nothing will change the fact that he’s gone. I have no choice but to go on thinking the world and this life are simultaneously incredible and tragic, to be thankful for every single moment, and to pay far more attention to things I overlook most days- The greenness of the grass; The taste of Friday night margaritas; Sitting on the couch after a long day at work; Riding my bike down a deserted trail; How good it feels to drive down a country road with the window down and the music blasting. Because these are all everyday miracles. I don’t think a single day will go by for the rest of my life that I won’t think about and miss my big brother. And I hope I don’t. Because he deserves to be remembered.
Love you always, J.A.