my beautiful brother Chris died on February 21, 2012.
i blog here to stay sane. i howl to thee, internets.
Yesterday I delved back in to the process of transcribing Chris’ notes. He’s got coil notebooks, little paper notes, scraps of lined paper and folded bits of paper. On them are critical notes to himself, lists of things to do, names of bands and artists and musicians and writers, scraps of prose and poetry.
One of the notes I found yesterday was a piece of white paper folded into a square and then written on this way and that on so that every inch was covered with text. It was from—I believe—2006 when he was on tour in California. We were at the time both making lots of drawings and both struggling with Being An Artist.
He’d written a list of steps towards making a t-shirt line with me. We may have never discussed this or we may have discussed it once or twice, I don’t remember.
Start with t-shirts, expand into international. Figure out cost of screen printing apparatus. Remember to never give in. Help sister out of hole. Come back to San Francisco by May 1, 2007. Or perish, trying to start a killer kick ass clothing line. I’m a creative cat. I can do this. And very well at that.
1. At 21, he wanted to help me out of a hole.
2. We had, both of us, wasted so much fucking time not believing in ourselves, abusing ourselves mentally and physically, telling ourselves that we were worthless and our ideas were stupid and we would never amount to anything. Why?
3. There are so many ideas we’ve both had that never did amount to anything. Did he do and make everything he could have during his ridiculously brief time on this earth? Have I? What have I really produced with my 32 lengthy years on this planet?
So many things that we never fucking did, either of us, on our own, or together. We lost the chance to collaborate on something, and now I have to do it without him. Or with him, but without him. With his words and his ideas but without his active input and it really fucking sucks and it hurts and I hate that we both wasted most of our lives in depression and negativity and self-hatred.
He was the best one of us.
Last night I told J. about the poignancy of finding this note, and I said, We lost the best one of us, and I started to cry.
J. said, You’re the best one.
And I said, No, no I’m not, and he thought I was being self-deprecating.
But I said No, out of my family that I am related to by blood, he was the best one. He was My Best One.
I think I could have withstood the loss of anyone else (easier than this,) because Chris would have been there to endure it with me. I’ve lost my youth, my childhood, my context, my sense of time and space. He was my very favourite person for 25 years, one month and two days. I didn’t even need to talk to him every day or every week or every month, because I knew that he was in the world, like we had a telegraph line attached to us both at all times, and what we shared was a deep, common understanding that made language for the most part unnecessary. Just this filament stretched across space that kept us united, thinner than spiderweb but thicker than umbilical cord. Shared blood, shared cells, shared soul.
There is no way to talk about this without descending into hopeless sentimental simplistic cliched language.
My grandmother lost her twin brother when she was 9 months old. I lost my twin brother when I was 32 years old. Four babies died in my mother’s womb; who’s to say that one zygote wasn’t hanging around in there for six years after my exit, waiting for the right time to be born? I don’t even give a fuck about what science has to say on the matter; science can’t speak to the fucking truth in my fucking heart. That’s what it felt like for me; he was always my twin, my other half.
It’s because we spoke the same language.
I’m re-reading his emails to me, and what’s funny is the voice in his writing is the same as the voice in my head. I can hear his voice in my head and it’s the same as the voice in my head: language choice, rhythm, phrasing, something ineffable, I don’t know.
Also the humour. The riffing. The tone. The dryness and the wit.
I thought it would be the two of us together at the end.
I realize that in a few months or years my cat is going to die, and then my other cat is going to die, and then my parents are going to die, and then my husband is going to die, and then I will be alone. And I don’t know if, even after death, I will ever see my brother again.
The other day I wondered if I’d ever really had a brother, or if I’d made him up. It felt like I could have, that I’d imagined him, dreamt him into being, but he never actually existed. It really felt like that might be true.
J. insisted that Chris had been real.
How do you know?
Because I can see him in your face. I can hear him in your voice when you talk. I can see him in the bridge of your nose.
And I said, I can’t see him anywhere.