Words…I get paid for writing them and yet it seems that I can’t find any for you.
They just don’t seem adequate.
I guess they never were.
So, I’m left with memories and fragments of memories. I turn them over constantly, searching for nuances and echoes that are just out of reach.
I was once your protector until you didn’t need protecting. Then I wasn’t sure where I fit and became a proud spectator as you charged full pelt into life. Nothing was impossible and everything was bullshit. You viewed the world with equal parts of blind optimism and dark cynicism. Everything you did was an achievement, because “they” said you couldn’t.
“They” didn’t know you. “They” had no idea how brave, tough and determined you were. You just pushed everything to the limit and beyond. I was so proud of you and I’ve never really been able to explain that pride. It’s impossible to put what I saw and felt into words. I guess you had to be there.
I was there and I saw everything. The pain. The lost time, The days, weeks and months spent in Ward Eight West of the Royal Children’s Hospital. The first fumbling steps to “normality” at Shannon Park and then St Bernards. Kids are cruel. I did my best but you had a lot of time on your own, fighting your own fight. By the time you reached secondary school, you could stand comfortably on your own, which was kind of handy because several teachers never gave you a chance. (I’m sorry I left that hurdle for you).
Those teenage years were special. You were so creative and extra competitive. There are so many memories. Racing homemade billy carts and skateboards down Savage, Helena and, Violet Streets with no fear. You built the most amazing vehicle and were always making modifications and upgrades. Not satisfied with that, you completely rebuilt Scalextric cars to your own specifications. Your eye for detail was only matched by your ability to get into mischief.
Whatever I suggested, you were up for and vice versa. Fun times that still seem like only yesterday. You picked up the guitar and went right past me in a matter of months. It wasn’t talent, it was hunger. That’s the way you came at the world. There was no time to waste and no excuses to be made.
I often wonder what would have happened if we’d formed a band.
But young men grow up and seek their own path. We went on our own journeys, but the bond between us has always been there. We’d talk on the phone about music and not much else. When we met face to face, it was like we’d never been apart. We’d say what we needed to and that was about it. I don’t think either of us was ever into “small talk.” There was no need.
When the bad news came you faced it like you always had – with a steely resolve and quiet determination. It was only a month ago that you told me not to come this weekend, You weren’t dying yet. Shortly after that, we met for the last time out of the hospital. I could see you were sick, but we talked and it was good. As good as it always was. We hugged and expressed our love for each other. There were no tears, just two middle-aged men dealing with the monstrosity of the inevitable and trying to put on as brave a face as possible.
The end came too quickly. I suspect that you held things together for longer than anyone else possibly could before that evil disease had its way with your body. To watch you go through that was torture. What sort of heartless deity could allow this to happen?
I oscillate between grief and rage trying to come to terms with what has happened and I haven’t landed yet. Last night Beck sent me a couple of recordings you put up at Triple J. I wish I’d heard them earlier. You could play, little brother, but there was much more to you than that.
These words don’t come close to doing you justice. I don’t think anyone’s could, but they’re the best I’ve got. I will miss you always Grant.
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