10 years an angel.
Note: Earlier today I was looking for a picture and came across an album from Thanksgiving 2005. And in that album, this pic (and others) stopped me in my tracks. Weird to think back to that time and realize that this was the last picture I would ever take with my brother. Who knew he would die unexpectedly less than five months later. Life. Such a bitch sometimes. Naturally I burst into tears because, well, I’m a crybaby (to know me is to both love me and cry with me). And then I did what I always do when I need to get things off my chest (or in this case my heart): I wrote about all of my feels. So I’m posting this now and am taking a break from social media for a few days, to get past the hump that is April 8. But, as the saying goes, I’ll be back. In the meantime, do me a favor and pour one out on Friday for one of the coolest dudes to ever live, my little bro Lando.
Every year around this time an unexplainable sadness creeps into my life, and this year is no exception. But this year is also different for a lot of reasons. And the sadness is in fact explainable: it’s the sadness of loss and grief.
April 8, 2006 was, hands-down, the worst day of my life. I remember every second of that day like it happened yesterday. Then there are times when it feels so long ago that I wonder if I’ve missed a detail in the day. I wonder if my memory is accurate. I wonder if I’m remembering Lanny’s voice accurately. How he used to answer the phone. What we said when we hung up. I wonder if I remember how tall he was. When I gave him a hug was he a lot taller than me or a little. How his eyes sparkled when he laughed. How sweet and sensitive he was. What a pain in the ass he could be. I wonder about everything. Not a day goes by that I don’t wonder why it had to happen. And that is unfortunately not something I’ll ever be able to answer. If you’ve ever lost someone super close to you, totally unexpectedly, you get this. If you haven’t, count your blessings. And go do so right now.
My brother Lanny died of an accidental drug overdose on April 8, 2006. Tragic. A stupid, stupid mistake. Ten years. I have no fucking idea where the time goes. All I know is that this kind of grief really does not get better with time. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will. Over and over. It does not. When Lanny died, part of me died too. He was celebrating my brother Jamie’s birthday. He was just 25. It rocked me (and my family) to my (our) core. It shocked his friends, all the people who loved him. It was (and is) terrible. I remember when I heard the news. I’d never wish that news – giving it or receiving it – on anyone.
For the last few years, I’ve tried really hard not to think too much about it when this day inevitably rolls around. (If you’ve known me longer than an hour you know it is impossible for me to hide my emotions, good bad or otherwise.) I’ve told myself Lanny would want me – and all of my family – to be happy on Jamie’s birthday. I said those words out loud. Over and over. And I’m sure that they’re true. Lanny was a fun guy who loved life. I’ve tried to do things for Jamie on his birthday to help him get through the day. To make it less painful. To try to celebrate his life and the time we had with Lanny for those 25 years. It has worked to some extent. But this year I won’t be able to celebrate Jamie’s birthday on April 8 – for a variety of reasons I will not go into here – and so that makes this day all the sadder. I’ll see Jamie soon though and for that I am extraordinarily grateful. And next year will be that much better. Only 360-something days to go! Woo.
When I started writing this blog post I intended to write a letter to Lanny. To ask him to watch over me. To watch over Jamie. To send me a sign that he gets this. To be there in spirit always for my family. For all the people who knew and loved him. To know how much he’s missed. And loved. To tell him that he will always ALWAYS ALWAYS be in my heart and in my thoughts, no matter how much time passes. To tell him that I’m going to frame his Joey Harrington jersey (finally) and hang it proudly in my apartment. To tell him that it’s probably time to find a new NFL team to root for because, well, the Lions. And to just be able to tell him anything. But, alas, that is not how my brain works. So instead I wrote this, but I’m OK with it. The outcome is the same – Lanny has been gone for 10 years and even though I haven’t seen him or heard his voice, the love is not lost. Not for a second. Ultimately, that’s what matters. That he will forever have a place in my heart.
And this year I will leave you with this… go now and hug the people you love. Hell, hug the people you just kind of like. Fuck it, hug everyone. Let the little shit go. Be there for each other. Be kind to each other. Don’t sweat the things that don’t matter. And, in the words of my FlyWheel instructor, leave the rest of the day for the rest of the day. Be present. Be in the moment. Be aware. Be brave. Be bold. Be strong. Be happy. Be awesome. Be beautiful. Be you.