Saturday, 3 January 2015

His Welfare Is My Concern.

I keep waiting for my brother Cam to stop being dead. I think I'll be waiting forever?

Watching The Walking Dead is really helping my grief, in strange ways. Maybe it's the constant loss of people who have built up strong bonds in a harsh world and they must accept each other dying and just keep going, keep searching for that survival instinct to walk down the road again. If Cam was alive he would have loved the SHIT out of a zombie apocalypse. He would have felt strong, had purpose, slicing and dicing those undead like a boss. He would have used his logic and intellect. I would have stuck to him like glue ... he could have taught me things.

Intense grief makes you do strange things. (What does it make you do?) I remember counting the shampoo bottles after my stepdad killed himself in 1988 - I got up to seven until I stopped counting. That's a lot of hair washes. I counted the number of vodka bottles under my "real" dads bed when we visited his flat after he died. I remember the indentation of his head in the pillow, how foreign it felt, how I knew I should have felt - more. Something. But he was a stranger to me by then, this man who I look exactly like, have the same posture, facial features, hair. When my second stepdad was dying from pancreatic cancer, I had some time alone with him and while he could still talk he asked me to empty his bedpan. I felt so honoured. His urine was so, so heartbreakingly dark.

And there was only one bottle to count when Cam left the building. The nitrogen bottle, that he tricked his body into accepting peacefully as he took his own life. Where did he take it? Where did you go, Cam? Thank you for being with me lately. I feel your love from my toes to my head and I cry, I cry.

Last night I ordered Cam to sit on the couch so I could read him a story, the very most favourite story we used to read together when he was little. We both knew all the words. I bought it at Brisbane Museum last week and thought I would never take it out of the bag but I surprised myself like I always do and ripped the bandaid off, took it out of its bag.

"Cam. Sit down on the couch while I read you this." (I was always so bossy.) "I helped you with your pain. It's now time for you to help me with mine." Wept and wept before I could read it but I read it all, holding the pages open to him like the old days so he could see the pictures.

He is with me. It's true - I can't tell you how I know it's a secret right now. But he is. And it is so comforting, still so heartbreaking, I'm still as scared and confused as ever. But I feel him. I need him so much. Losing somebody you love so deeply cannot be properly articulated. The fallout is enormous and I'm still careening, I will never be the same again. I have an awesome doctor and a beautiful understanding and gentle counsellor so I'm going back, to the wayback machine, filtering and weighing up everything that has ever happened to me in my life.

If I do not do this, I will die.

I absolutely hate this photo. It was taken a few weeks before he died and he knew he was going to die, already had it all planned and he's surrounded by chicks and people and a vibrant city but he'd had enough. Sometimes when I take that dirty t-shirt out of my bedside table drawer and I hold it and smell it I make sure not to get my tears on it and quickly put it back again, safely tucked away so the smell will stay. And the smell does stay - his smell, my Cams smell, on ME. After I've hugged one of the last things he ever wore.

I cannot believe he is gone. My brother was not alive last year. The world is a hard place - *I* was in a hard place those last few weeks of his life and it's really quite hard to be peppy and positive to somebody when you feel so shit yourself.

Why was it always up to me? Lots of reasons. He pushed everybody else away until in the end he was so lonely he couldn't stand it. The breakup of a relationship would undo him because it would trigger all of his abandonment. One day I'll write a slam poem about the last girl he ever fucked and I'll make sure nobody records it so I don't get sued. It'll be furious.

A month after he died I crashed my car so had to drive his car and I found four almonds in it, like a Blues Clue! Except, the clues lead to nothing. Not even the SIM card tucked up in the corner of his wallet AHA CAM YOU FORGOT TO THROW THIS AWAY! THIS WILL TELL ME ALL THE ANSWERS!

Nothing will tell me all the answers. Ever.

I found his Rayban sunglasses case in the car console (another clue!) but it was empty. What did you do with your Raybans, Cam? Throw them out of the car? Chuck them in a Newtown bin? Give them away to Vinnies with your other stuff? Send them to someone who won't tell me?

On the way back from Uganda for World Vision the other week I had five annoying hours at Dubai Airport. I'd just visited some of the most poorest people on earth and I'm in this chockers opulent airport with signs saying "Buy THE most expensive bottle of wine in the world here!" And I don't care if you're Bono - if you buy the worlds most expensive bottle of wine, you are a deadset idiot with screwed up priorities.

So I had some American dollars to change over but then I walked past a sunglasses shop and thought "I want some Raybans like Cam." Not need - want. I don't "need" anything. And I tried on so many many pairs and the lady was right next to me making me nervous and fumble until I told her I was going to be a while, could I please have some time and space to choose?

That's what growing older does - gives you the chops to say what you feel.

And I bought the sunnies that I most remembered looking like Cams last pair of Rayban sunnies and I picked them up from the optometrist today because I had to get prescription lenses put in.

 So I got your Raybans, Cam. And I'm going to use your cover to put them in. And I will probably wear Raybans forever now. I just want to do the things you did, to feel close to you.

After I picked them up I felt really heavy so went to the Three Sisters to take some deep breaths.

They usually always make me feel better.

But they didn't today. Some days, no matter what I do or think or say or read or pray .... I cannot feel better. And that's a testament to my love for you, brother. You were never a burden on me. I was honoured you trusted me with all of your stuff, all your hauntings and dark and hope and plans. You were more mighty than you'll ever know. I'll always wait for you to be not dead! I can't believe it!

Also, I'm counting on you to work out all your issues by the time I die because I don't think I'll have the energy to counsel you in heaven.

If you were there with me me today we would have mocked the tourists and their selfie sticks and I would have made you take a selfie with me but I was there alone, sad for you, for me, for the Three sisters who were turned into mountains by their father to escape the bunyip and even though the bunyip is long gone, there they stay like the ruby slippers. Beautiful. Frozen. Trapped.

You know that scene in Good Will Hunting (I finally watched it on the plane, OH MY GOODNESS!) where Ben Affleck is saying that one day he hopes that he'll knock on Matt Damons door and he won't be there? That's how I felt about the Three Sisters today. One day busloads of confused tourists and tour operators will be out one morning scratching their heads because the sisters' father found the magic to unlock them and make them real again and they walked on out. Free.

Cam you just walked on out. I tried to follow you but so far I can't, I must stay, this stupid world is where I have to still be. But it hurts without you in it - it hurts more than you ever could have  possibly imagined and I'm fighting real hard to get strong for the BOTH of us. And I menit. I rili menit.

I will never stop grieving you because I will never stop loving you. I am so, so sorry. I love you. I love you so very much with my whole heart and always have and always will. You are teaching me more lessons about life and love and you and me than I have ever learnt in my life. Oh I miss you, I miss you, I miss you.

"No burden is he ... to bear. We'll get there."

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