It’s 2010, a few weeks after my brother Chris’s Celebration of Life, and my spouse and I leave Oakland for a long planned vacation. It is an on-time departure as the plane pulls away, but now we creep along the tarmac weighted down with champagne yet to be served. The plane gets airborne and starts to rock and I start digging through my carry on for Dramamine. I already took the Xanax, washed it down with champagne – because – hey, it is included in the price of the Business Class ticket. There’s a little gray bag tucked into the storage compartment with hand lotion and Kleenex and sockies for my little tootsies. Now that we are airborne, when they ask if I would like another drink, I say yes, and get a whole can of cranberry juice and two super cute mini bottles of Grey Goose. Time for Phase Two of the Self Medication Express. Time to ease the pain of what I left behind in California. I’ll bet now that the estate is settled, the next time I speak to my stepfather he will say that without Chris around to remind him, he can’t be expected to remember where or when I might be traveling. That’s why he didn’t call to wish us “safe journeys” like my friends did. It’s AFRICA, though, our Adventure Of A Lifetime (the announcer’s deep voice reverberates a little in my head), a loving person would have wished us well, but Roland has not been a loving person since he went off his Prozac. He is alone in the big house now, and will probably be pissed at the Executor, me, for a long time. And Chris didn’t have much, just a sweet disposition and an old soul. He was born two years before me on October 24, 1956. He was a very handsome boy, good at carpentry, and an all around good kid. How do you capture the essence of a man who shot past boyhood straight to battle? After the neck injury that left him paralyzed at 14, the experts declared a life expectancy of five to ten years, so I suppose, after his 24th birthday, it was all borrowed time. We have photos of the brawny boy, memories of the monkey and guinea pig that were attached to him, joyous gatherings, and family holidays. So few capture just how very blue his eyes were, and his goofy smile, the snicker after he “shook the rosebush”. The forgiving soul we hoped to become is no longer here to teach us humility. My parents produced three children, the Bossy Control Freak, the Never Enuffer, and a Very Nice Man. The last years with my brother Chris were a gift, and I hope to greet each day with gratitude for having loved and been loved so deeply by such a beautiful soul.
August 19th, somewhere over Africa
I am reading a magazine article about the ill effects of multitasking while listening to Alanis Morrissette on the noise-cancelling headphones wired to all those top rated MP3’s stored in my iPhone. “And isn’t it ironic? Don’tcha think? Like a No Smoking sign on your cigarette break.” The entire cabin of the airplane is dark, I step over the outstretched body of my spouse to a cacophony of snores bombarding the unlucky passenger with normal hearing. My goddess, I had no idea it was so widespread! When I get back to my seat, I watch for the fifteenth time Buffy the Vampire Slayer Musical Episode called “Once More with Feeling”, and Buffy sings:
There was no painThere was no fearThere was no doubt
Until my friends pulled me out of heaven
So, give me something to sing about
Life isn’t blissLife’s only thisIt’s living
The pain that you feel can only be healedBy livingYou’ve got to on living.
Chris would have laughed at my finding inspiration in a supernatural soap opera, but he would have watched a snarky vampire romance TV series with me anyway. That makes me too sad to talk.