(Author's note: I'm not ruining this article by telling you that I am now at peace with myself and Steve's death. It still hurts. And his family is still hurting. But I'm not kicking myself anymore about it. I think Steve would say that I've sucked it up. I won't forget, but I'm over the forgetting.)
I need to write this and you will be the surprised and unprepared reader of my sadness. HolyJuan usually makes you forget about all the horrible things that life has to offer, and HolyJuan usually does so through such self-referential methods as making fun of people who speak in the 3rd person, even when the 3rd person isn't even a person. But I would appreciate if you would stick through this and then we can all go back to irreverent, relevant nonsense.
I keep forgetting that my brother is dead. I will forget, time passes, and then I remember. And while those instances of remembering are not as shocking as the initial revelation, it's just as debilitating in a numb sort of way. I am endlessly forgetting. Then I remember. Then I feel sad. And then I move on with forgetting again.
And here, outside of him being dead, is the worst part about it: I feel guilty that I keep forgetting. If I would have been closer to Steve, I think that I wouldn't forget as often. That there would be a constant Steve haze of sadness that wouldn't leave that would cause a constant ache. Instead, I keep remembering that I forgot and I feel terrible about it.
I would like to get to the stage where I feel guilty about beginning to not think about him, except that I immediately know he's gone. Right now, those few milliseconds of remembering never start with him being dead. They are filled with the next time I see him. Then I remember, I realize I've forgotten, and then the guilt. I know it's a horrible analogy, but when I think about Santa Claus, I don't think about him as someone who is real and then I remember that he isn't. He's not real right from the get-go of thinking about him, even though a younger HolyJuan believed differently. I want to remember Steve, knowing that he is dead. And I can't. Not yet and seemingly not ever.
Did I ever tell you that I absolutely hate wind chimes? Their only purpose is to piss off the neighbors and possibly to keep the Local #45 Less Than 16" Long Pipe Union in business. My favorite noise a wind chime makes is a tie between when it isn't making noise or the clattering thud it makes as it falls in the bottom of a trash can. I do not like wind chimes.
After Steve died, Susie and Larry bought us a set of memorial wind chimes. They are silver tubes with black lettered poetry about how you are going to have a difficult time forgetting the deceased with these things clamoring all day and night. We sent a nice thank you card and I never thought they would leave the box. But they did make it into the sunlight and I hung them on the deck. "Sunlight" and "on the deck" being merely suggestive as they are tucked off the side in a low-to-the-ground corner where neither sunlight or wind make their presence known and they would remain silent.
But somehow the wind does swirl up and give the dangling weight enough momentum that it creates a few notes. Quiet and gentle notes that creep into the house when I am having my morning coffee. For just a brief second, they will tinkle. And I will be reminded of Steve. While my sadness at the beginning of all this was about remembering Steve, this wind chime reminds me of Steve. A subtle difference. I'm OK with being reminded of Steve by wind chimes or by friends or by Steve's family or Facebook posts. I love being reminded of Steve. I fucking hate wind chimes and the set that Susie and Larry gave us will always be hanging from somewhere near my home because they now remind me of him.
That is where I want to get with my own internal struggle: I want to be reminded. A gentle nudge that makes me smile or that makes me sad he is gone. Like on a chilly spring day, when the sun is forgotten behind the clouds, but then it secrets through, and nonchalantly hits the peripheral. Eyes closed you can turn into the light, welcome it, and take in the warmth. Then it moves on and so do you. The chimes warm me. The stories keep his memory alive. All these reminders I appreciate, welcome, and love.
I just want to stop forgetting.