I’ll be leaving in a couple of hours to go bury the brother. It’s a weird, dissociative feeling—like when you wake up inexplicably in the middle of the night and you get out of bed and go get a drink of water and nothing in your house looks quite right—as if everything in the house has been removed and replaced with nearly perfect replicas. That’s sort of how I feel. Just a wee bit distant from myself and everything in the material world.
Soon I’ll be surrounded by grieving and sympathetic people, who will say shit like “He’s in heaven now” or “He’s probably looking down on us now and smiling” and I’ll be nice about it and maybe nod in agreement. Almost everybody there will be some brand of Christian and they’re going to talk a lot about God. “We don’t understand God’s plan,” and “He works in mysterious ways.” If they find comfort in that notion, who am I to disagree? But I don’t believe it.
This is what I believe. My brother lived a moderately good life—and that was about the only thing he ever did in moderation. He was a firefighter and he was given to all the sins and graces of firefighters. He sometimes drank too much, he took too many risks, he never quite grew up, and he gave the best parts of himself to the job—sometimes to the detriment of his wives and children. But he also saved some lives and he mitigated some disasters and he spent most of his life putting himself at risk to help strangers. He could have been a better person, but—and this, I think, is what matters—he was the best person he could be.
I’m going to miss him. I miss him already.