Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Requiem For A Brother.

Hey Cam so it's been a year now. I think it's time somebody wrote you a eulogy don't you think? And there's nobody more qualified than me to write it so step into this with me, brother.

I'm not writing about ABOUT you, I'm writing it TO you. I like being unconventional and there was nothing really "right" about your death anyway so let's just break some more rules.

Somebody told me the other day to "cherish the happy memories with you." But there wasn't really a whole lot I mean, let's be honest here my beautiful sweetheart man. You were pretty miserable. But it wasn't always that way.

You were born on a Friday. That's a cool day to be born, everybody loves Friday. You were born on the day of the Titan II Missile Explosion over in Arkansas, when somebody accidentally dropped a socket wrench onto a missile in a silo that sent it careening into the air landing next to a nearby road. Luckily, the nuclear weapon didn't go off. I bet you didn't know that happened, did you? I bet you didn't. And you always thought you knew EVERYTHING. So annoying, Cam. Nobody knows everything. Nobody!

So you developed this really bad case of jaundice after you were born and had to go under these special light things wearing SUNGLASSES. Three days old, chilling back without a care in the world like you were sunbathing on the goddamn beach pass me the suntan lotion, mofos!

I know you know how much I loved you. You were so eloquent in your final note. "I love you Eden and I love that your concern for me has been an ongoing endeavour for you since I was born."

Endeavour. I looked it up. It means "try hard to do or achieve something." Even your suicide note had care in it. You didn't just write "THANKS FOR NOTHING ARSEHOLES." You articulated everything you were feeling and going through.

You casually toss the word "endeavour" in there because that's the kind of guy you were. 

So many scumbags walk the earth and you're gone. It's not fair. I'm glad you know how much I love, will always love you. But it wasn't enough. What would have been enough, sweetheart? Therapy? Medication? Having a kid? Money? If you had a million dollars would you have stayed? You needed more love and I am so, so sorry the world was too hard for you. Sometimes I wish I could be angry at you but mostly I just cry. I just cry.

You were a DELIGHT as a child, though you chucked a pretty mean tantrum. Spoilt rotten, really. You were this blonde little guy, running around the house, unaware of the dramas and mechanisms and goings-on. I used to watch you and marvel at your magic at just being able to just be. I often felt unease, wondering what would happen when you grew up. I had bad nightmares back then - so did you. "Night terrors" they were called, and you would scream and cry and shake and still be asleep. It was awful, not being able to help you. Sometimes you'd just wake up like normal in the middle of the night and cry because you lost your dummy and I'd RUN in to get it for you, make sure you were ok and tucked in.

You called motorbikes "molorbikes." You never grew out of your lisp. You had a Greyskull Castle with a microphone that turned your voice into Skeletor, along with matching He-Man and She-ra figurines. I played with it so much you banned me. I used to push you up to Mt Riverview shops in the pram, fussed over you, got you anything you wanted. I just wanted you to be ok. It's all I ever wanted.

I taught you how to write your name. Just a simple "Cam." Years later, that's the only name I put for you on your memorial card. You were conflicted about your last name/s. Your dad killed himself when you were eight years old and we'd just moved back from England. You were in year three and we found out in the morning but you were already at school, so you stayed at school all day, not knowing. I felt sick because as soon as you arrived home your life was going to change forever. I sat behind you as you were told and your face fell, it fell. That night I gave you a bath and said, "Maybe, let's just pretend that dad went on a big business trip to heaven." And you just shook your head, no. You loved your dad. You were told he died in a car accident. Then about a year later you got told the truth.

You never got over it. Some things in life we can't get over. We learn to live with them or they kill us.

I moved out of home as soon as I could. You know why. You were diagnosed with depression at the age of eleven. I was working at Jetset Travel when I found out and asked the manager if I could possibly take you on a holiday, maybe to Queensland? She said no. I can't remember helping you out much. My biggest regret is not being "together" enough to be your refuge, a proper one, during such formative and hard years. You met a whole bunch of friends at school. You grew up. Every time I saw you you were bigger, always slightly more withdrawn but I could always draw you out, you fucking hermit crab.

You think you're the only one who suffered, who hates life? No. there's a whole host of us, hating it all but doing it anyway. I'm not angry at you - it would be easier if I was. But I love you unconditionally and your death doesn't change that.

You were SMART. And a science geek. And funny, oh your wit. It's funny how short your dad was and how tall you were -  you would have towered over him if he'd lived. Your dad wasn't even all that great. Bit of an arsehole, really. He'd berate waitresses. He was "new money" and had the Ferrari and racehorses to prove it. Wanker. He was half the man you were. I've had so many emails since you died from almost all of the main women in your life, being generous with me. Sharing what they could. They all tell me about your beautiful heart and compassion, but I already knew that.

Remember that time I made you watch Neverending Story and said you'd love it and then when the horse died in the mud you sobbed and sobbed and made me turn the video off? You were about six years old. Both of my sons since then have seen that film and I braced myself twice for that scene for them to have the same reaction as you. But they didn't.

You had an extraordinarily compassionate and sensitive heart. You should never have done menial labour or worked in the mines. Your unrealised potential and happiness slays me. Your sense of unworthiness, your deep sadness, the light that had gone out of your eyes for so many years. I saw how hard you fought, to stay, Cam. I saw you. And when we were together I could see that twinkle back in your eye, because being around you made me feel like I could just be me. So you being you and me being me? Just a brother and sister, loving each other, shooting the shit. A part of me has gone with you in your death. I can never be who I was with you to anybody else, nobody comes close to who you were to me. There are no other Cams. Thank you for confiding in me. Thank you for the three-hour long phonecalls. When I saw your name come up on my phone I had to quickly usher my boys to do something because I knew it usually meant I was in for a long one. You'd always apologise but it's ok, it's what older siblings are supposed to do.

Most of the time you called me when you were really down, lost, hurting. I'm so glad you had me and my love. I gave everything I could to you my brother - everything. You were never "happy" unless you were in the throes of the beginnings of a heady new relationship. You always thought having a woman could save you but guess what I've learnt in the most excruciating way possible? Nobody can save anybody.

I love that you came to me when you needed me, that you lived with me for those years. I'm grateful to Dave for sometimes helping you out financially, I told him that I needed him to treat you with the same love and care that I treat his children. He did. He tried, too.

I asked my very kind local GP if he thought there was some kind of "suicidal gene." He said there probably was something of that ilk. You and I both got it, Cam. I'm still here fighting for both of us. You didn't give up, it just got too much. I completely understand and I'm so grateful to you for letting me in but wow - I thought I knew pain before you died. I had no idea.

I see you constantly, I often slow down my car because is that you just right there walking on the street? And then I realise it's actually an Asian guy with a loping walk and moustache but if I squint hard for a second it COULD have been you. Cars often beep me. I'm all just wait I'm trying to ascertain if my brother faked his death and had a pretend spongey body in the morgue GOSH.

You had so much love in you - and creativity, and passion, and words, and a future. You just couldn't get it out. You got stuck, and now planet earth has lived one entire year without you. You had untapped beauty in you, amazing depth and intellect. YOU WERE GLORIOUS. I know you pushed me away on purpose that last weekend. I know why you wouldn't let me know your address.

About six months after you died I walked into the petrol station to pay for some fuel and With or Without You was playing loudly on the radio. I literally stopped in my tracks. Not dead in my tracks like you, but I stopped walking and just stood there with my face towards the corner wanting to crumple up like I so often do when I'm home alone and I think I felt you, a little bit. I wasn't sure. I stood there for the rest of the song and at one point asked aloud, "Cam?"

You never answer. Can you hear me all the times I yell at you, randomly?


Can you see my annihilation and does it make you feel bad? Where are you? Nobody knows. People got theories, but nobody really knows where our people go.

After I paid for the petrol that day I got back in the car and Max asked me what took me so long. I was about to lie but thought I may as well tell the truth.

"Well mate, a U2 song was playing on the radio and I couldn't be sure but it FELT like Uncle Cam was there. So I had to wait until the song finished, sorry."

Suddenly Mr Six-Year old Rocco pipes up from the back seat (oh these boys have seen their mother in a hard, hard place this year)

"Oh yeah it was totally Uncle Cam mum. He's actually sitting next to me right now. Do you want some of my Sprite, Uncle Cam?" And Rocco turned his straw to give his dead uncle a sip of his drink as I watched in horror and fascination in the rear-view mirror. Rocco then put his arm around Uncle Cam.

"It's good to see you again Uncle Cam. We've missed you."

For the entire two-hour trip, Rocco talked to Uncle Cam. Asked him about the cat Cam loved when he was a boy. He shared his chips with him, and told me that Uncle Cam sleeps on his top bunk every night.

"Does he, darling."

"Yeah! He really actually does. And you know what else mum?"

I asked what.

"Uncle Cam doesn't need to wear a seatbelt because he's already dead."

At that point, Max and I lost it. Laughing so, so hard. It was ... horrendously dark but man, these guys have seen so much of my pain even though I shield them from most of it.

Rocco still swears blind it was you in the car that day. He said you only sometimes sleep in his bunk, now. I have a feeling he's only just saying this to make me feel better. The other week he asked if Santa could make Uncle Cam back alive again, and when I said no he just shrugged and said ok he'd like a Playstation instead.

I grieved you even when you were alive, Cam. I grieved the innocent boy you were, the sad and lonely man you ended up being. God I love you with my entire everything. You have broken me. I'll never be the same again. I have to build myself all over again AGAIN. It always annoyed me that your Facebook profile pic was McNulty from the Wire. I wish you could have owned yourself more. Stood up and realised what was actually true and real in the world and what wasn't.

I walked past the birthday card aisle yesterday and it said BROTHER and I thought oh crap, I missed Cams birthday! But I didn't - you did. You know what comforts me? I didn't send you a birthday present for your birthday last year. If I knew that was going to be your last birthday - well, a huge part of me thinks that I would have MADE SURE it wouldn't have been your last birthday.

But it was your last birthday. I'll never buy a "brother" birthday card again. I bent over my trolley, in physical pain at the loss of you.

I witnessed the whole life of a man, for thirty-three years. I loved a man as much as I could - which was a LOT. I'm going to Africa again because of you. I'll try keep going because of you. I hug Rocco and close my eyes and pretend it's you and maybe it is, maybe for one split-second you can enter his body and feel the real physical love again. You were my very first, my very favourite guyo. You deserved more than you received.

The thought of you being at peace now is supposed to comfort me but it doesn't. I can't believe you're dead, like you are TOTALLY DEAD NOW. It's excruciating, unfathomable. You would have totally loved Matthew Mcconaughey's character in True Detective. LOVED. I watched it for the both of us. I do that a lot.

Hey guess what it's really, really hard to write a eulogy for somebody who takes their own life. You were born, you did some stuff, you died. Where'd you take your life, anyway? I know you would tell me if you could. Maybe you're not allowed. Maybe there's rules. Maybe there's nothing. There's no more you and no more us. Just a whole lot of pain and guilt and regret. Maybe that will fade. Lately it's getting worse. Are you a bird now? A stupid angel? Did you get born again with a father who will dote on you for your entire new life? Are you in the sky? Why do coal trains make me feel better? Do you know I would raise six million dollars on a kickstarter campaign to get you back? Give a kidney? Both my legs? You could wheel me around and we'd STILL argue about who had the best pants-shitting story. You died on a Tuesday. Now I know why I always hated Tuesdays. They're nothing days.

In a lot of ways, your death has set me free. I am so sorry about that. Thank you. Somebody sent me a teddy bear and I only just noticed on the back are the words "Cam is still teaching you."

You are the biggest teacher my life will ever know. I miss you so much I can't breathe. I don't want to do life without you but my choices are limited here and I got kids. I need you to know I will never let you go, you always belonged with me and that I hope I see you again. Jeez that'd be a good reunion. I'd like that.

I'm so sorry. I love you so much. A lot of people did. I'm proud of everything you achieved in your life despite the odds. You just had to realise you already had wings, to know that you could have flown. You could have. I know you could have. But I understand everything and I'm still here for you if you ever need me. I need you a lot - more than you'll ever know. I hope it was peaceful. I hope it was quick. I wish you didn't go. I'm all brokeded up Bam Bam and if there's any way you could help me through I'd really appreciate it.

Somebody told me that we are a love story.

And love stories never end.

This is a shit eulogy but that's ok. I'll be eulogising you for the rest of my life.

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