April 23, 2012
Dear John, I Still Miss You
Another year has passed. It’s been seven since I saw you last. I’ve been thinking a lot about you. When you died my biggest fear was that I’d forget something about you and our last day together; I wanted to remember every tiny detail always. The other fear that haunted me was that one day it would get easier and I wouldn’t miss you so much. So I’m grateful for the memories I have and I’m grateful for the bittersweet ache they leave in me.
I’ll be honest. I don’t dwell on you anymore. That makes it easier. For the first year, I hugged close everything that reminded me of you: photos, videos, memories and especially music. But I can’t hug those things anymore because they’re too sharp and they cut through the scar tissue that took so long to grow on my shattered heart. Sometimes when you flit across my memory I find myself shaking my head just as I did after you died, because I can’t comprehend that you are gone from here.
But I’ve decided this won’t be a day for sadness. I went to Mass this morning and I saw S² eyeing me with concern. I smiled at him and told him truthfully that I just had a tickle in my throat (Easter flowers and incense can do that). Now I sit in the fading sun and think of you.
We’ve always shared a passion for reading, writing and music. When you were a toddler, you’d put on a pair of star-shaped sunglasses, sit at a little piano shaped box and lip-sync to Elton John’s greatest hits. We called you “Elton Johnny”. It was the only time Mom and Dad listened to Elton John without complaint, so we had you do it often. When you were a little older, we played school. I swore for years I taught you to read, but after trying to teach my own children, I wonder…
Remember the summer you were turning sixteen? Dave had moved to Cleveland for his new job. You and Mom stayed in upstate New York to help me sell the house. We were really into Pink Floyd that year and we discovered Wish You Were Here. I have a hard time listening to it now. You brought books about the band, which I read when you were done. Then we’d talk about Syd Barrett and debate about Roger Waters and David Gilmour while we worked on my yard. You did a lot of yard work for me so I told you I take you out to dinner. You wanted steak and lobster. Funny thing for a fifteen-year-old to want for dinner, but typical for you.
Remember that same summer going to the mall parking lot late at night so you could practice driving a stick shift before getting your driver’s license? We saw a UFO hovering above the woods next to the mall. It was amazing, but we never told anyone about it because we knew no one would believe it.
We both love Chris Cornell’s voice. One Christmas I shared his version of Ave Maria with you, but I don’t think you heard it over the football game. Then you shared Audioslave with me. After you died, I got your CD and listened to it constantly. I can’t listen to Audioslave anymore. That annoys me frankly, because I really like them.
But I can listen to “United States of Whatever” by Liam Lynch. You turned my kids onto it. After they listened to it a million times a day, it grew on me. Do you remember when we found the video? Wow. Liam was not the cool Eminem-type I’d imagined. But we loved the video and watched it a million times too.
And tonight, as I looked up the video to add it as a link to this post you, my little, beloved brother John, gave me a gift. A video I’d never seen of Dave Grohl, drummer extraordinaire (and my favorite), playing/pounding his little heart out with Liam Lynch on United States of Whatever. And I’ll go to bed with a smile on my face, which is a gift I hadn’t expected on this of all nights.
Skip ahead sixty seconds. The quality improves greatly.
PS-Is it mandatory for great drummers to chew gum?