Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A post about Jesse

          I've been kind of quiet on the blog lately. Trying to at least keep updates on my kids and stuff but mostly it's been hard because really heavy topics are on my heart and mind and it's hard to write about the funny things my kids do and say when I really want to talk about my family, drug addiction and missing my brother.

       Tomorrow marks 6 months since I last saw my brother. Words usually come easily to me. I sit down to write and the words just kind of flow and later I go back and read what I wrote and occasionally I'm surprised at what I wrote! This phenomenon does not seem to occur when I want to write about Jesse. I sit down and start to write the words just stop. I don't know what to say. I don't know what's left to say, or why it's important to say it. Not a day goes by that my heart doesn't ache. It aches for my mom, and my entire family who miss him. But it also aches for so much potential that is now gone.

        I think that is what hurts the most. I know once people are gone it seems like all you can say is how wonderful and amazing and what a good person they were. So it feels like a cliche to talk about what a wonderful person Jesse was. I wish everyone reading this knew him, because the ones who did just know exactly what I'm talking about. He had a way of making everyone think they were his best friend. Every girl friend I've ever had, at one point had a crush on him. Literally every single one. Even my best friend admitting to me that she day dreamed about marrying him when we were younger -- and she didn't confess that to me until after he died! He was insanely good at everything he tried, but most notably hockey. He was also infectiously enthusiastic about anything he liked, or felt strongly about. Listening to him and my husband talk about Diablo was enough to put me to sleep. And I made a comment, "Aren't you embarrassed to be this excited about a video game?" I asked, after about a half hour of them talking about their level 40 mages or whatever. And he laughed and was like, "Why would I be embarrassed about something this awesome? If someone doesn't like this, I don't have time for them. I do not care. This game is awesome." And went back to his conversation with Aaron about all the awesomeness of this video game.

       He would never hurt anyone's feelings. My grandmother got him a too-small Rangers sweatshirt for Christmas, a couple of weeks before he died. His face lit up and he enthusiastically put it right on over his dress shirt he was already wearing. It was obvious that it was a bit too small, but he knew Nan would be upset so he insisted it was fine. "It's just this shirt underneath it, it's fine Nan, it's fine." He assured her over and over with a smile. And then he left that shirt on for the rest of the night.

      I wish I had more recent memories of him to draw from. But my earliest memories all include him. I even vaguely remember going to the hospital when he was born. (For the record I turned 2, almost exactly one month before he was born.) I remember teaching him his ABC's, before he turned 2. I remember being at his doctor's appointment and the doctor being impressed that he could sing his ABC's, and my little 3 year old self feeling such a sense of pride in this little person.

          My entire childhood is memories of us playing, imagining, video-gaming, and of course fighting. Nonstop fighting. Fist fighting, yelling, screaming... we didn't make it easy on my mom. We even started a fight club in my basement with the neighbor kids. The only rule was, "No telling Mom". And if you cried you were out.

         He had this puppy dog like admiration for our older neighbor boy, Keith. He'd just wait outside for Keith to come out and then beg Keith to play with him. Nice enough, many times Keith would play with him. But I'm pretty sure Kieth was like learning to drive, in high school, and didn't really have much time for the 5 year old boy who was obsessed with him. Though that didn't stop Jesse's devotion.

      I also remember him learning about illegal immigration when we were in middle school. He went into some ancient version of Microsoft Word on our Gateway computer and typed up these "facts" about the number of illegal immigrants in our country. I don't remember exactly what it was, something like, "FIVE MILLION ALIENS COME TO THIS COUNTRY EVERY YEAR! THAT'S F*&%ING B#$&*@#!!!!!!!!!!!!!"   In like size 200 font. And he hung these up all over the house. My mom told him he could not hang these signs up all over the house, so he put them up all over his bedroom. I think I remember this so clearly because one of those signs was still there years later when I was getting ready to move out. Now regardless of where you stand on illegal immigration you have to laugh at a 13 year old making offensive political posters to hang up around his house. I know as an adult he'd probably be ashamed and embarrassed by this story. But I don't tell it to make a point about his political views, just his passion and silliness I guess. It comes to my mind often and makes me laugh for some reason.

    We used to say Jesse was never a baby. He was on the move before he could walk. We lived upstairs from my grandparents and he'd slide down the stairs on his stomach and crawl over to Poppy's chair. He was riding a 2 wheel bicycle before his 3rd birthday. He really grew up fast. He grew up too fast and he died too soon.
     While I was back visiting I could really just feel this gaping hole he has left behind. His presence was bigger than I ever realized. I don't know how to explain it. But it just feels so wrong. When we're all together it doesn't feel like just one person isn't there. It feels entirely different. All of us cousins got together one night and it just felt so off. I guess the dynamic is changing, and that change hurts. A lot. It's heart breaking.
     We're all growing from this. One way or another. And I can't speak for everyone else I guess, but my empathy for drug addicts has grown so much. I also have an ever growing hatred for secrets and small talk. Life is short, let's be real and talk about what matters. Spend as much time as you can with the people you love and do something silly. Something you'll remember. Because death is a certainty for all of us. One day all we'll have are those memories, so make them and treasure them. This is how I'm growing, and it hurts, but I guess this is how we grow.


  1. Something I have always admired about you Lauren is how genuine you are and have always been. I aspire to be more like you in so many ways. My heart breaks for your loss and your family. I wish I could do more to offer solace. Know I'm praying for you and am always hear to listen or cry with you. I didn't get a chance to know your brother well but it sounds like he would have been someone worth being around. May angels lift you up and surround you.

  2. He sounds like a marvelous person and I hope you never stop writing about him. The signs in his room sound fantastic and the fight club made me laugh. I hope that moments of peace come to you.