burying the brother

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.

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9 thoughts on “burying the brother

  1. It’s a hell of a thing, to live and die. It’s messy, complicated, full of pain and joy. I do hope your brother got the most he could out of it. I also hope your pain eases and you get to hold on to the best of who your brother was. Peace.

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  2. Greg,

    I didn’t know you, but you sound like the best brother one could ever hope for. Everyone who’s lives you touched will miss you daily, especially those closest to you. I have lost a brother I was exceptionally close to, so I love and miss him daily. You were a very special person everyone gravitated to, and were such a giving individual who lived life to the fullest. Hope everyone smiles when thinking of you, cause that was your motto. To those left behind, go out and live your life as Greg did. Cherish and love those in your life, and let them know how you feel about them before they’re gone!

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  3. Reminds me of the comments at weddings
    “You’ll be next” they say as i hear myself scream in my head no i fecken won’t be.
    All flippancy aside Greg you’re in my thoughts

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  4. Hope it all went well, or as well as such things can. The comment I kept getting when I had to bury my dad was “he’s in a better place now!” which really made me want to haul off and punch the well-meaning but insensitive boob who said it. The assumption of shared beliefs was one problem, the other was the notion that he’d go to ‘the better place’, which really meant either they didn’t know my dad at all, or they were trying to be kind but lying through their teeth. Or even that being planted in the ground was a better place for him. urk. I will never ever say that to anyone who’s lost someone they love.
    So I will just send along *hugs*. You were lucky to have each other as brothers.

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  5. Thanks, everybody, for all the kind thoughts. The funeral was a pretty dissociative experience, with enough absurdity and crazy-ass weirdness to keep me distracted. The funeral procession was led by about 40 or so flag-carrying, heavily-tattooed bikers on Harleys. They also lined the sidewalk into the funeral home–although once inside there were firefighters in full dress uniforms standing vigil beside the casket. The brother was dressed in a t-shirt and blue jeans, and he had a pool cue and some small rubber figurines of Pinky and The Brain with him. At the cemetery, a pair of U.S. Marines in dress blues did the flag-folding ceremony, which was oddly moving.

    It was a lunatic sort of funeral, which was probably a good thing. It’s been almost a week now, and looking back at it I can’t help laughing at the weirdness of it all.

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