Thunder Volcano

Boundless enthusiasm for something stupid

Archive for January 2014

Sometimes There’s a Man…

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While growing up, it never struck me as odd that my closest friend and confidant was somebody who lived 150 miles away, and who I saw a half dozen times a year if I was lucky.  My usual explanation would be to suggest that since I’ve been an asshole for these past thirty-some-odd years, it would make sense that the people I’m usually closest to are people I’m not technically “close to,” but I’m really not sure that’s it.  Looking back on it, he’s been a part of most of my fond memories of childhood/adolescence.  I never expected I’d be fondly looking back on what then felt like endless painfully long hours spent rereading old Garfield books while waiting to open Christmas presents or hunt for Easter candy, but here we are.  In a sense that was the essence of my childhood – wanting to alternately speed up and slow down time: I could hardly wait to see my cousins, then I could hardly wait until Christmas morning, then all of a sudden I wanted time to stop so we could hang out for a couple extra hours before it was Time To Go.  But we were kids, we’d see each other again: though it felt like ages away, there was always Next Time.

What I’m saying is, we grew up together.

Without realizing it, I came to think of he and I as being on The Same Wavelength – it didn’t matter how long it had been since I’d last seen him, I knew things would fall back into the same easy routine and we’d set about being goofy bastards like we always did.  Times that we saw each other became fewer and more far between as we approached adulthood, but that never really seemed to matter*.  Things were always the same between us and they always would be.

What I’m saying is, we’re Family and I knew I could always count on that.

I am, of course, barely scratching the surface here.  He penned our traditional Thanksgiving prayer.  He was the most adamant about maintaining the Christmas traditions that we all, as a family, had developed over the years.  He was there for me during my various periods of unemployment – dropping everything he was doing to come travel around with me while I tried to Find The American Dream or whatever the hell I thought I was doing.  More importantly, he provided some much-needed perspective during what was a bit of a low point for me, explaining that since our respective older brothers had gone through all the trouble to be successful (his brother is a lawyer, my brother is a doctor, both are married with kids), we were home free.  The pressure was off for us.

What I’m saying is, he’s like a brother to me.

Not too long after that, he got some bad news.  I heard about it through a telephone-game of phone conversations with relatives.  Every time I talked to somebody, things were a little to a lot worse.  I didn’t know what to think at first, particularly because I was usually hearing thirdhand information.  Then I talked to my brother and he gave me the down-low on the Bad News: “a few days ago I described a very unlikely, absolute worst-case scenario.  This is what I was describing.”  It wasn’t something I could afford to think about at the time – I was 150 miles into a 700 mile drive on the way to a friend’s wedding.  But it was all I could think about – I’d meant to be there for him a few days ago when it was just lowercase-b bad news but I’d hesitated because of the weather**.  The air in my car started getting hard to breathe.  I felt like such a piece of shit – what if I never got to see him again?  Everything happened all at once and all of a sudden things were never going to be the same.

What I’m saying is, the holidays were pretty rough that year.

There was, eventually, a modicum of luck.  Not exactly a light at the end of the tunnel, but maybe a silver lining.  A silver lining around the calm before the storm, if you catch my drift. Long story short, we got almost a full year with him after the Bad News landed – we’d been led to believe it could be as little as a month.  There’s no denying that it was a tough year from the start.  The person I saw at Thanksgiving – right after the first round of chemo – wasn’t my cousin.  He was a skinny, sunken-eyed, dozy shell of a man who looked somewhat like my cousin and I had no idea what the hell to say to him or what to do.  Did I try and act normal?  I figured he didn’t need everybody in the world getting sentimental and weepy all at once, but it’s not like I have a model for how to handle this.  But after a little while he got back to something approaching normal – he seemed himself and he didn’t need the Heavy Duty pain meds.  For a little while we were almost able to ignore the Dark Cloud hanging over our heads, spending as much time with him as we could while trying to pretend like we weren’t preparing for the inevitable.  He and I even got to take another road trip during one of my all-too-often periods of unemployment and it was Just Like Old Times.  But in the end all we got was a year and much like when we saw each other as kids I was glad for any extra time that I got but it wasn’t enough.  But no amount of time, extra or otherwise, would have been enough.

What I’m saying is, the holidays are gonna be really rough this year.

And now he’s gone.  He’s been gone, and there’s not a day I’m not reminded of it.  It’s possible I think about him even more now that he is gone, but every time I see something dumb and goofy my first reaction is to text him about it and I’m reminded about how I’ve lost one of the best people I’ve ever known.  I’m reminded of how the world – my world – sucks even more because of that and it hurts all over again.  Things don’t feel right without him.  Even our vaunted Family Holiday Traditions will seem off.  Sure, we’ll still drink carbombs on Christmas, it wouldn’t be Christmas without them.  But it’s also not Christmas without him.  And our Thanksgiving prayer of “Thank God for poopies” will be a lot more bittersweet now, turning from something we can all laugh about into something we can’t help but cry about.  My only real solace there is knowing that he’d be pissed off to know that that is his legacy.

What I’m saying is, I miss my cousin.
What I’m saying is, I miss my friend.
What I’m saying is, I miss Brian.

*That being said, we did have a number of opportunities to hang out for longer periods of time while growing up – such as the times we went to music camp, which were as much about getting to hang out without our parents around as they were about furthering our musical abilities.  Such extended times in close contact usually ended with us wanting to punch each other: as I’ve mentioned, we were on the Same Wavelength, and since I’m an asshole…
**Specifically it was Hurricane Sandy, the storm that kind of ruined half of the east coast a few years ago.

Written by Baron Volcano

01/12/2014 at 6:03 pm