Dean, Scott and I on May 17 2003.
Today is the five year anniversary of my brother Scott's death from cancer. He was 39.
Today, I'm reminded that I'm a double winner. My big brother and my little boy are both gone from this part of life—the human part. They've moved on to the next square on the sidewalk. They're not available to talk to me anymore. I mean, I can talk to them all I want. It's just that I haven't figured out a way to hear them speaking back. I can tell them that I've learned from them the most valuable things I'm ever gonna learn. And I can wait one of them to respond. I can tell them I feel robbed because the fruits of their teachings hatched as my legs were cracking in half under the weight of grief as they departed this life. And I can wait for one of them to respond.
I can tell them that I am lonely and I want to be with them. And that I have thought a lot about it and I'm sure I've done everything in this life that I want to do and I'm ready to be with them. And I wait—achingly—for one of them to respond. Like a soldier waiting for his travel orders while overstaying his time in the battlefield in a double tour of duty, I wait for them to respond. I wait for a sign that I might be able to see them, join their world where clocks are door stops, where worry is a comedic device in theatrical performances about the folly of man, where Pablo and Scott run and run and run and never become winded. Their world, where I don't have to watch their chests rise and fall and feel for their pulses to wonder if they're OK. Their world. It is a good, sensible place after so much senseless medical aggression tore their bodies to shreds.
I can talk to Pablo and Scott anywhere and everywhere. I can tell them anything. I assume they are with me always and anywhere, to the point when I mess up, I feel shame.
Them. They. Last year it was just Scott. Today, a year later, Pablo is not snuggled up next to me snoring his ass off as I type away at 11:52 p.m. Today it's Them and They. Today, I feel shame when I raise my voice or one of my many shortcomings roars into action. Shame because Pablo is watching. When he was here, and I could sit down with Pablo, the little boy who, along with his physical self, was my son, I could show him my humanity by explaining my mistakes and apologizing for exposing him to them. Now, I don't know what to do. I'm stuck in the middle of this life and afterlife business. I am told it will get easier. Reading my post on this date last year, I yearn to have Pablo back. And the knot in my stomach that I talk about in the post. For the rest of my life I'd live with that knot. Last year on this day, the theme of the post was acceptance. Gotta say, I'd like to blow up that word with a ton of C4 right now. Someday soon, I know I won't feel this way.
Somewhere in there, I am certainly happy that my big brother can finally have a conversation with Pablo. Two weeks before his death, when it was clear to him that his body was beginning its descent into death, Scott sat and wept as he looked at the one-and-a-half-year-old Pablo playing with Grady. When he caught his breath, he explained his sadness. 'I thought I'd be able to make it long enough to have a conversation with Pablo,' he said. Words we'll never forget.
That photo up there was taken 35 days before Pablo's day of birth—May 17 2003. It was my 31st birthday that day. We took the photo at the Frank Gehry-designed Edgemar complex on Main Street in Santa Monica. At the time, one of the only two Peets Coffee shops in LA was located there. That was long before they opened on Larchmont. In 2003, if you'd have told Scott that Intelligentsia was gonna open their only shop outside Chicago in LA—right down the block from my house—he'd have sold his house off Michigan Avenue and moved here that week. He loved Intelly that much. We ended up across town at Peets cos my brother Scott was always in pursuit of the best, most authentic s**t. Peets fit that description in those days. There wasn't any better caffeine source in LA.
I look at my face in that shot, and I see the same anguish that grips my body today. I think about contemplating some random question, such as, 'How much can one person endure in this life?' I stop short of this self pity rhetoric, and focus only on the answer to such a toxic—for me—line of questioning.
The answer is, I can take a lot. Scott and Pablo taught me that the human body stays strong for a long, long period of time. Even while being hammered from the inside. Scott and Pablo taught me that it's possible to laugh and find joy.
No matter what.