If you have ever lost someone close to you, you may not want to read this post. If you have never lost someone close to you, you may not want to read this post. If you’re here because you like my blog, my topics, me, or my writing style, you may not want to read this post.
I don’t know what this post is. It is not a tribute to Boo, though I would like to do one of those in the future. It is not an exposition on grieving; I am clearly not qualified to write something like that. It is merely the current state of my grief laid bare, my insides splayed out and messy because there has to be something.
I have two posts waiting to go up here, but I can’t post them. Nothing else can come before this. Half the time, it feels like nothing else can come after this. I know, logically, that something probably will, but even that feels wrong.
Less than two weeks ago, on July 20, 2012 at about 2:30 in the morning, my little brother was hit by a car, presumed to be a drunk driver, and killed.
Less than two weeks ago, on July 20, 2012, at 5:14 in the morning, my mom called me. I didn’t answer. When the phone rang again and I saw the number, the immediate worry kicked in. No one ever calls twice in a row unless it’s an emergency (except Boo, who always calls twice if I don’t answer the first time).
“I don’t know how to tell you this,” my mom said, “Boo was walking last night, and he was hit by a car.”
I didn’t know what to say. “Is he alright?” I asked dumbly, knowing she wouldn’t have said it that way if he were, and for a split second I found myself actually hoping that my little brother was lying in a hospital hooked up to machines, broken.
“No,” She told me.
“Is he alive?” Please. Please.
“No.” Nothing. I don’t know. What do you do? What do you say? I thought she had to be joking, but I knew there was no chance.
And the bottom fell out of my world. At first it was not loud or dramatic. It was surreal and sickeningly matter of fact. “Ok,” I said, “we’ll, um, we’ll come right now. I’ll be right there.” Or something like that. What to say? What to do? This was not possible.
I hung up with my mom and told MacGyver who was half asleep beside me. I walked out of the bedroom, directionless, lost. I made a couple calls, knowing my composure wouldn’t last long. I called NotDonna. I called Boo’s best friend and his fiance. Neither of them answered. I sent them text messages. I called my dad.
I had to pack. We had to leave. But there was a problem with the car. The car needed a special oil change. We could not drive it all the way to MI without one.
The day was awful. I don’t want to relive it. Hours of walking in circles, on the edge of vomitting, on the edge of tears, on the edge of sanity. Trying to feel him in the world. Seeing places he had once sat and balling on the floor. The helpless impotence of waiting for the oil change, waiting to be packed, waiting to be gone. Everyone was there with my mom but me. Everyone else made it there so fast, before I could even leave.
I went to work in a daze and turned over my cases. I knew I looked like a freak because I was more calm than I should have been. But I had to do something.
Finally on the road, we made it to MI the fastest we ever have. And it was the longest drive to MI I have ever experienced. Music on the radio made me sick. All I wanted to talk about was Boo, but I couldn’t stand to talk about him. Eventually I started to doze off.
We stopped and told Punky, but she didn’t come with us. Bio had spent the whole summer telling her how WE never let HER see her. Guilt trips on a 9 year old. And I was loosing my mind needing to get to my parents. Maybe it was better that she didn’t have to see me an utter, wrecked mess.
We got pulled over in IN. I’ve been pulled over on that very same stretch of highway before. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in my Cobra racing back to MI, car packed to the gills and Dozer and Jinx (dog and cat) in the back seat. I was rushing to get home in time to see Boo off to his Prom.
This time, MacGyver was driving, but it was my fault he was speeding. We didn’t get a ticket, though the cop did say he would mail us one if he looked up Boo’s name and found out we were lying. I wish so badly we were lying.
Less than two weeks ago, on July 19th, 2012, around lunch time, I talked to my little brother for the very last time.
I was driving back to the office when the phone rang. I was surprised to see it was Boo because he doesn’t often call me during the workday, but I was excited to talk to him. I put him on speaker. I wish desperately I could remember every word of that conversation, but I can’t. We were just chatting. It was just us.
He asked if I was still showing Flintstone pictures of him. He asked if Flintstone still knew who he was. It was always so important to him that Flintstone remembered him and knew who he was. He loved that baby more than anything else in the world. NOTHING breaks my heart more than knowing what Flintstone lost that day.
Boo was the most amazing uncle a child could ever ask for. He would do anything for Flintstone, and Flintstone absolutely loved him. I have never in my life seen a more devoted uncle than Boo. He was so disappointed when we went to WI instead of MI for the 4th of July. I told him it would only be a couple more months. I was so wrong. The last time Flintstone ever saw Boo was April.
I was so excited for Boo and Flintstone to see each other again. I told Boo he wouldn’t believe how much more Flintstone was talking – even starting to put together sentences. We talked about how Boo was going to watch Flintstone overnight while MacGyver and I went on short anniversary wine tasting trip to Traverse City, MI a couple hours north. Boo couldn’t wait. He told me how he had just babysat his friend’s daughter, Brayleigh, who is almost the same age as Flintstone. The second her dad left, he said, she started to cry and wouldn’t stop. Boo tried everything – food, snacks, drink, changing, toys, TV, playing outside – nothing worked. He called a whole bunch of people, but no one answered. Eventually our mom came to the rescue.
He wasn’t afraid of that with Flintstone. Flintstone loves him. And he still sees pictures of his uncle Boo, every day now, and he still knows who Uncle Boo is. But he will never truly understand how much he was loved by his uncle Boo, how much he has lost now that all that is left is pictures.
When I pulled into work, I started to tell Boo to hold on, because I can’t walk and talk on a cell phone in uniform. Boo thought I had to go, he inturrupted me and told me to call him back later. I didn’t want to. I wanted to talk to him then. I loved talking to Boo. It made me so happy, and I was just going to carry the phone into my office and keep talking to him. I wanted to tell him to wait, but I didn’t, or he didn’t hear me. He told me to call him back. I said I would and he hung up. I’m pretty sure the last words I ever said to him were “Talk to you soon. MmmmBye.” I didn’t call him back that day.
I called him back two hours after I talked to my mom, after I found out. I called his phone thinking maybe – I don’t know – I just called it. I told him I would call him back. It rang three times and went to voicemail. It hadn’t even been 12 hours since the last time I spoke to him.
I’m told the shock of loss clouds your memories. I’m told that the reason I’m struggling to remember some of the times we spent together is because we were so close. It doesn’t make it suck any less. I’ve been clinging to his Facebook page. He didn’t post a whole lot, but I have read over and over again what he did. I have been mining his friends for everything he liked. Things I know I knew, but for some reason they are slipping through my fingers now. His favorite movies. His favorite songs.
I’m told my memories will soon come back as clear as they ever were. I need them back now.
I have been trying for days on end to wrap my brain around it. Around how sad he would be that he can’t be here to see Flintstone grow up, to be here for my mom like he always was, to have his own children, which he sooo wanted. Around my own loss and how half of my life is gone.
Over and over again, all I can think is that half my life is gone, but no one understands. He wasn’t my husband, but he was still half my life. Last night, I found a passage that summed it up perfectly. When you lose a parent, you lose your past. When you lose a spouse, you lose your present. When you lose a child, you lose your future. When you lose a sibling, you lose all three.
I am NOT in any way trying to diminish any other kind of loss. Loss is terrible and rending and trying to value one over the other is sick. But this loss is different. Two of my best friends have lost parents much too young to leave them, and they have been so helpful, but there’s a tiny voice inside me screaming that it’s not the same.
Boo was always there. He was always supposed to be there. He has been in my life as long as I can remember. My earliest memories are of my mom’s pregnancy with him and of him as a tiny baby. He is half of my childhood. When we grew up, he grew into more than a brother, he was one of my best friends. If I found myself wanting to talk on the phone at any given time, he was one of three people I would call. We could talk for hours and laugh and laugh about things no one else understood and inside jokes no one else was privy to.
Often, his opinion mattered to me more than anyone else’s. I didn’t even know how to pack to go home for his funeral because I always asked his opinion on what I should wear when I was home.
He was everywhere in my future. The fun and wonderful Uncle to my children. He was going to have wild little redheaded kids that would be my nieces and nephews. We were going to have Halloween Parties and Christmases and Thanksgivings together with all our kids running around together the way we used to as kids. We would take them all camping up at the Pinery in Canada and all go Trick or Treating together.
When my parents go older, we would take care of them together. We’d all live on a lake, and mom would float in the middle of it on a house boat.
He was my other half. Not in the way that MacGyver is, but in a way that only comes from growing up together, just the two of us. I was the more introverted bookish one. He was the fun, social one.
I want to throw up.
I was the reasonable, together one. He was the fun-loving one who held together all the interpersonal bonds.
He was seriously one of the most fun people I’ve ever met. Probably one of the most fun people most people have ever met. He was always, always planning the next adventure, whether that was going tubing down the river or just playing a board game. There was no boredum in his presence. Even watching Friends or movies was somehow much more hilarious in his presence.
I can’t count the number of nights he dragged me grudgingly out of bed at 2am with guilt trips and pleas, “Amanda, we never get to hang out, you have to spend time with me,” he was more right than we could have ever known. And I would drag myself out of bed grumbling about responsibilities I had and how I was only going to play one hand or drink one glass of wine, and before I knew it we were rolling on the floor laughing at dawn. And it wasn’t just me, it was everyone he knew. He was literally the life of the party. When he was in town, there were people coming and going at all hours. Games and laughter were constant in his presence. He was truly amazing. No one lived life the way my brother did.
It really makes me wonder about my priorities.
Following the news, friends and relatives poured in from all over for a never ending week long BooFest - a party in his honor, exactly what he wanted. Oddly, perhaps, he had told me, my mom, NotDonna, and many of his other friends that he didn’t want a funeral, he wanted a big party. No funeral at all, and that he wanted to be cremated. So that is exactly what we did.
We had a one hour long viewing, which was possibly the most painful hour of my entire life. I could not look away from him. I could not walk away from him. I could not, and still can not, comprehend the thought that I would never again see him in 3 dimensions. I was a wreck.
And yet people kept coming up to me. Some with a quick hug and condolensce. Fine. Some, though, wanted to just chat. Maybe they were uncomfortable or something, but it was not ok. They are damn lucky they didn’t get vomitted on. Also, on that note, the number of people who wrote RIP on his Facebook page really annoyed me, too. You want him to rest in peace, that’s fine. Take the time to write the freaking thing out. It’s a whole wonderful, amazing life over. RIP is something that goes on a tombstone in a spaghetti western. It’s not a true sentiment. And if you’ve just lost someone who was half of your whole world, seeing “RIP Boo” 600 times is of zero comfort at all.
So we had a party and Boo would have loved it. And been heartbroken that he couldn’t be here. But I can’t talk about that now. I have cried too much today – for the moment. Even though the tears were flowing, the laughter was still there. The stories of Boo were plentiful and a fitting testiment to the full way he lived his life.
Among the stories was the story of his tattoo. Not long before the accident he had told both my mom and his best friend that he had decided on a tattoo he wanted to get. “Come Monday, It’ll Be Alright” – a Jimmy Buffett quote. Some of his friends have already gotten the tattoo in tribute. His fiance Eric got a tattoo for him, though he got something different.
This tattoo raises some issues for me. The same sort of internal conflict Boo always pelted me with when he was here. Earlier this year I decided finally and confidently that I did not ever want a tattoo. I really love the way my body looks and didn’t want to put anything on it. Like if you bought a really beautiful statue, would you color on it with markers? Some people would and they might love it, I would not. There’s more on this in my henna post. It’s not the point here.
I have been doing henna tattoos for a number of months now. I’ve written on my henna ink and the myriad of reasons that I perfer it to permanent tattoos (though since that post was for another blog on which I’m sydnicated and is third in a 3 part series, it hasn’t yet appeared here). I have been thrilled with my henna art and totally happy with my decision never to mark up my body with a permanent tattoo.
And now I have to. Well, I don’t have to, but I really feel like I should. I’m pretty sure I’m going to, but I’m still waffling. I can’t decide if I should get his tattoo, the “Come Monday,” which is sickeningly appropriate if you listen to the song, or if I should get something more specific to the two of us. Like something from Friends. Boo and I were Friends addicts, which anyone who has followed me for some time knows, and which is better documented in the links at the bottom. We always watchedFriends together and we constantly competed atFriends trivia and walloped everyone else.
The last time I was home, he was so disappointed that I forgot to bring Friends Scene It. I brought it for his funeral even though I knew there would be no one to play it with. I also brought the season 6 that he had been pestering me for for about 4 years.
I have been thinking about getting the Geller cup - which is essentially a toll doll nailed to a chunk of 4X4 – a representation of the sibling rivalry between Monica and Ross. But I’m not sure. I feel like there must be something better, something perfect.
I could also get a Harry Potter quote, since Boo introduced me to HP, but so many of those are so overdone now. This tattoo needs to be unique and special to Boo.
I am considering having an ash tattoo done, though I haven’t yet decided if I think that’s special or creepy. I will already have a portion of his ashes in a Miller High Life bottle and I plan to get a small ash locket. Think it’s overkill? Bite me. Lose someone like this and tell me I’m wrong. (I still won’t care).
No one, NO ONE knew me the way Boo did. There was NO ONE I could talk to the way I talked to him. We were so close. Talking to him made me so happy. That is a void that can never be filled.
And another tattoo issue! If I were going to get a tattoo, Boo would have the final yes/no vote on what it was and where. Not ultimate veto power, but you can be darned sure he’d be in on the whole process. Who is supposed to help me decide now?
And where to get it? I’m thinking ankle or foot. It has to be somewhere I can see it, so not my back. I don’t like arm or shoulder tattoos at all – especially on women. Maybe a small forearm tattoo, and wrists can be great, but not in my line of work. Even for as much as Boo meant to me, I can’t walk into a courtroom with the Geller cup tattooed on my wrist.
This post is so long. It could go on and on and on. It should have pictures, but I’m out of time for today. There will likely be more. I’m trying to decide whether to shut down Urban Earthworm. I’m trying to decide how the world is supposed to keep spinning, how I am supposed to write asinine blog posts, when there is such a gaping hole. When half of my soul is gone. Dead. Scraped out while I was sleeping.
Perhaps I’ll come back and add pictures to this one. Perhaps I’ll just write a bunch of new ones. This doesn’t even scratch the surface. But for now I have to go.
Please, please, look at Boo as he was in life. There is so much more, but this is the beginning. This is was is first apparent. This is some of what I have left of my baby brother, Boo: