Nowadays

“You can like the life you’re living, You can live the life you like, You can even marry Harry, But mess around with Ike, And that’s, Good, isn’t it?, Grand, isn’t it?, Great, isn’t it?, Swell, isn’t it?, Fun, isn’t it?, But nothing stays, In fifty years or so, It’s gonna change, you know, But, oh, it’s heaven, Nowadays”—

I’m learning the secret to happiness is loving the life you lead. Not every aspect of course. That would be asking too much. But in general being satisfied with whatever stage in life you’re at currently. Because it’s all designed for a purpose: the good the, the bad, and the beautiful desperation.

It’s all a complicated algorithm of lessons; a maze of numbers no mathematician can decipher. It’s the wonder of living versus the need to understand.

I spend a lot of time languishing in the injustices of life instead of appreciating the tests along the way.

You could wake up one day; argue over cheesecake with your husband only for him to later die in a freak motorcycle accident.

You could wait patiently for Christmas break only to have to rush home weeks before because your mother passed from kidney complications. Only you didn’t know she was sick in the first place.

You could find out your brother passed away in his sleep randomly from an enlarged heard that he’s had since birth and it was finally too big for his body.

Or you could be like me and find out your brother died on his way to the bathroom and no matter how hard the EMTs and doctors tried to resuscitate him he was gone. Cause of death unknown.

Life is like playing poker at a casino. You’re born seated at the table. You grow up learning the rules of the game. You can continue to place the same bet, you could risk it all, you could walk away to a different game, you could cheat and count cards—no matter what you do you don’t control the hand you’re dealt. You don’t get to decide whether the house will divvy out all aces or a jumble of faceless clubs and diamonds. But every day that you can still place a bet is another day with the potential to win big.

Chasing Cars

“I don’t quite know, How to say, How I feel…Let’s waste time, Chasing cars, Around our heads, I need your grace, To remind me, To find my own.”—

I’m learning the desperation in loneliness. A sacrifice of principles and standards: a brief moment of contentment. Peace, where the silence doesn’t drown you and the comfort isn’t full of down feathers. I get it.

He may be all wrong but when his arms wrap around you, the air’s a little less frigid. The constant beacon of your thoughts shines a little less brightly. You rest your weary on his chest, expel the weight of your exhale, and hear nothing but his heartbeat.

You don’t always have to talk but the mere fact that he’s there keeps you’re overly active mind quiet. With him you create temporal memories blocking the darkness with his red special. It’s an escape. It’s survival. And I get it.

You can erase everything but blood. Your blood shed, but not from your body. Flesh of a common genetic flesh, a derivation of the same genealogy. You can’t remove cognizance that was there even before your first breath.

I’m losing authority over my voice. I hear your questions but fail to answer. Incapable—words don’t form coherent sentence from sheer lack of disuse. I. I. I. I don’t know how to state my grief. You. You. You. You. You don’t know what to say anyway.

Just like everything else in my family, this remains hidden. We don’t even talk anymore. We don’t even know what we argue about. Pain, the dirty little secret. Blame, the white elephant. Who wants to analyze heartache? Who wants to stew in our feelings?

Often that’s why I’m called sensitive. Maybe that’s why I’m kept out of the loop. Only in an air of nonchalance am I allowed entry into the underground railway. Forgive me for not tamping down my feelings or release the energy in complex forms of various inconsequential pursuits.

I think that’s why it’s so hard to balance the “new normal”. There’s no one with whom to talk it out. Who will help me understand. I won’t mention the lengths I’ve gone to, would surpass still for thirty minutes of uninterrupted listening. It’s not always about you. Let me speak for once. Reach out to me even. You’re mute to my grief; I’ve clawed out my tongue no longer able to communicate.

I want to talk to people who knew his laugh, related to his sense of humor. I want you to listen to the same stories until I can’t forget and you learn them by heart.

How do you start every sentence with hate. I hate sleeping because my dreams are filled with my brother’s corpse. I hone in on the blood spattered hospital gown on his dormant body, as if we couldn’t afford to honor him even in death. I hate waking up because at least in my dreams he’s there, he’s near me. How do you kill off a zombie? At least on the outside they look like the loved one you once knew. I hate going to the dentist because every time he tells me I grind my teeth, destroying precious enamel, I know no sleep test in the word can diagnosis despair. I hate going to the doctor because they make you fill out health questionnaires—carve in the stone of ink blots your immediate family, dead or alive. I hate train rides because on the evening of Wednesday January 3rd 2012, my dad text me to say my brother was in the E.R. and I should gather up the family. I hate happy people because I feel like I’ve lost the ability to recognize happiness.

When I lived in Russia, LeeAnne and I saw what appeared to be a drunken man propped up against the metro wall near the ledge. LeeAnne took one look at him, sprawled out , chin to chest, eyes open and she said “He’s dead”.

“What?”

“He’s not breathing [JL], he’s dead”.

Right there in the middle of a crowded metro a nameless man drank himself to death. People hustled past, walked over his limp legs, pretended he wasn’t there. Until finally attention was drawn to his lifeless form.

Only in death do we finally see the living.

So I ask—If I lay here? If I just lay here? Would you lie with me and just forget the world?