Category Archives: Death

George’s Tree

Photo: Jenny Bristol

Photo: Jenny Bristol

Today I got to see some of George’s family. His sister and her family were here visiting George’s mom. Jenny and I swung over to say hi before they left town again, and to see the new addition. George’s mom and step-dad had a beautiful Sycamore planted in his honor on their terrace. (Pictured above)

This culminated in us all standing around a beautiful (if late-seasoned) sycamore tree, with tears in more than one set of eyes. In the end, grandkids and crew were being swept up the path to the house, and I found myself saying, “excuse me, but I’m going to be silly for a moment.”

I then tried to hug a sapling. It didn’t go so well, at first, because the trunk is about 2 inches across. I ended up with my arms stuck through branches, and my head poked in through the most convenient gap. I felt very silly indeed as I felt some not-quite tears fill up my eyes. It felt good, though. Really good.

I came home and celebrated life with a friend (whose birthday is Thanksgiving Day), and played D&D until the kids called it off for the night. It was nice. In the growing quiet, I found myself sitting alone in the living room, half-heartedly playing Spider Solitaire, quietly crying.

I miss my friend. I miss seeing him every week, and I miss talking to him. And partly, I miss having another person I could trust completely. Life can be hard when you carry too much alone. Thankfully, I have a wonderful wife. I don’t carry anything alone, not really, not anymore. But it was nice to be there for George, and for him to be there for me. His friendship made life feel a little bit bigger, somehow.

Now, it’s smaller, but that’s okay. I met a beautiful shade tree today, and I remembered that life goes on.

I Wasn’t Prepared

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Saturday, Jenny and I went out to a potluck to enjoy some friendly company. I squared myself between a good friend (Red) and my wife, and enjoyed being ensconced in a safe place at the party. While I was distracted by my attention-whore of a phone, the subject of Red’s mother’s death came up. I was not, in any way, prepared to hear that story.

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Who Your Friends Are

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

I just want to thank the people in my life who love me. It’s not always easy to love someone. It’s not always easy to love someone who’s made a lot of mistakes in life. I’ve said and done some stupid things, and I’ve been hurt by people I thought I could count on. It goes both ways. I finally got sick of my own shit about eight years ago. I was tired of being a little flaky. I was tired of not being anyone’s best friend. I set out to make changes.

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Feeling Lonely

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Today, I’m surrounded by people I love, but am still lonely. I’m already getting those “suck it up” looks, and I just hate people. Missing George is hard. Every week I miss seeing him at work. I miss seeing him for our weekly game night. It just keeps happening.

I’m not crushed anymore. I’m mostly back on track. I can (mostly) have conversations where I don’t bring him up on accident. I don’t feel like hiding under my desk anymore. Well, I do, but not because of George, which is the point I’m trying to make, so stop judging me. >.>

I just miss him, and it’s heavy on my mind this morning. Sorry for the repetitive post. I bet you’re all getting bored with it, but fuck it. This is where I put my feelings on parade, so this is the show you get to watch today. I love you, too.

Getting Back to Real Life

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Getting back to “real life” while depressed can be fucking difficult! Yesterday, my dad was released for the physical therapy/rehab center, and he got to go home. First, though, he came over to have chipped beef on toast, because delicious food is delicious food. While we hung out, I organized my Magic: the Gathering cards. It was nice.

Sometimes, the best way to deal with grief is to commune with the person who passed. I do not mean sitting with a Ouija board and candles. I mean spending time doing something you love as if that person were there. George had a large chunk of my card collection, which came home last week. They were all out of order, and some were sleeved at random, and stuff. It was a task to organize it all, but I got to think about George the whole time.

No crying. No sadness. I did something I enjoy doing, and I got a little more closure. Part of closure is accepting that someone is gone. Putting my cards back in their proper boxes felt like coming home. My collection was reunited, and my (rare) annoyance at my collection being split up was finally put to bed. It was good.

After I thought about it, I realized that I had some old D&D character sheets that George and I had made together. I got to go through them, and remember how odd his choices could be. He wanted to play something fun. Not overpowered, not too weird, just fun. Of course, that man could out-strategy Gen. Patton in any game, so he didn’t need crazy tricks to win games.

It was good to get some of that into/out of my system early in the day. After lunch, dad and I looked at a house nearby that he’s considering renting (with much bullying and encouragement from our house). After that, I was happy to see him off on his adventures with his new bionic knee.

Then something neat happened: Normal life just took over. I didn’t have to convince myself to finish my assignments. I didn’t have to agonize over what to submit to my editors. I just did it. It was like a weight had been taken off of my brain for the day. It was kinda great.

Of course, I ended up working well into the evening, because I spent most of my morning with my dad, and my ever growing collection of all things fantastic. But I didn’t feel guilty about crap work. I felt like I was doing my work well. I accomplished enough to spend some time with the kids before bedtime. I also managed to give myself a blister, and tear it off before noticing it, while playing Rock Band. I’m still bad at the drums…

Yesterday felt oddly normal, and I’m thanking God for it. I am also hitting up our DM for some more D&D action. I want to blow some stuff up. That’s normal, right?

A Wake and a Funeral

Reaching the Skies by ThisWolfWalksAlone on deviantART (CC BY 3.0)

Reaching the Skies by ThisWolfWalksAlone on deviantART (CC BY 3.0)

This last weekend was a blur to me.

Jenny and I hosted the wake, and had dozens of folks show. We played games to honor George, and had pizza, wings, cola, and other noms. I met his brothers, his sister, and his father. George was greatly loved, and people loved celebrating his life by playing his favorite games.

The funeral service was beautiful and sad. People from all over North America had come to see George off, and to share their memories and how they loved George. I was honored with the chance to speak, and I held in tears as I bragged on him mercilessly.

This entire last week has been filled with joy, appreciation, and love. George filled a lot of hearts full of love and kindness, and even people who only met him a few times knew that he was safe and wouldn’t judge anyone.

I’m sorry I didn’t post over the weekend. It was a long 48 hours, and I couldn’t bring myself to write anything, because I was so sleepy, sad, and lost.

There are no words to describe George, and no way to explain the loss of George. But I can say this.

There is no hole in my heart. Instead, there is a vault placed in my heart, and it is full of the love George gave me. I am stronger for having known him, and I am forever changed by his love.

As for you, dear reader, know that you are loved. Know that you aren’t alone. Know that you are worth it. You have my humblest of thanks for your support, comments, emails, and digital hugs. You improve my life every time you see my posts.  Thank you.

Sharing Your Pain – The Dumping Circles

I’ve long since learned, and try to live by a simple rule. When in pain, grief, fear, or frailty, there are only a couple of rules for being a good human. I call it the Dumping Circles Rule. When someone has died, for example, there is an order of who gets to dump sadness on whom. Because of current events, I’ll use George’s passing as the example here.

Dumping Circles

It starts in the middle, with Family. Family should always be allowed to dump out, and should never be dumped on. If you are not family, you do not get to say, “I can’t handle this,” or, “This is just too hard,”  or, “It’s not just about you,” to the family. Ever. End of story. The only things that should go “in” are compassion, support, respect, and honor.

The next circle is Close Friends. This isn’t about people who know someone a little bit. This is the circle of people who know all of the deceased’s fears, illness, weaknesses, and passions. Friends are the people you trust so much that you’d die for them. Friends are the kick in the ass you need when you aren’t looking hard enough for a new job. Family gets to dump on Friends. Friends do not get to dump on Family. It’s the responsibility of the Friends to comfort the family if they can, and bring support from others even closer to the Family.

The next section is for less close Friends, and Friends of the Family. These are people who knew the deceased, but not everything about them. This circle knew their schedules, and their birthdays. They knew what the deceased liked on their pizza, and saw them on a regular basis. These people may have known the deceased a long time, or a little. These people don’t know about daily struggles, or successes of the day-to-day. This circles gets to dump out to the next level, and help in their own ways.

The last section is for everyone else. If you knew each other by name, or you attended some of the same parties or restaurants, this is your circle. This circle lacks knowledge of hobbies, diet, birth dates, religious preferences, and/or passions. This is not a bad place to be. It’s just a guideline for who to cry with, or who to support.

Now, none of this negates your experience. Whether you had a short but powerful bond, or you knew the deceased your whole life, you can’t compare pain. I’m not saying you should minimize your emotions, or make them less. What I’m saying is:

Know your audience.

If you think you might be dumping in, then stop. Bring the conversation back to them, and maintain your composure if you can. If you can’t handle it, greet the person in the inner circle, wish them your best, and then find an appropriate shoulder to soak with tears.

To George’s family: If you feel like I’m dumping in, tell me. This blog isn’t for dumping in. It’s for sharing my experiences as honestly and plainly as possible. It is not in any way meant to affect you negatively. I cannot fathom the depth of your loss, the memories now changed, and the pain of losing a lifetime partner and friend. I am always at your service, and send my love, respect, and prayers with you. But I can’t leave this experience off. Terminally Intelligent has become one of my most powerful coping mechanisms. I can only hope you understand.

It’s Too Real

Apathy Dude

Image: Rory Bristol

I thought it was supposed to feel like it isn’t real. I hear people say that it doesn’t feel real to them when someone dies… I don’t get it. I wake up several times a night, with no idea why I’m upset. The it hits me: George is dead. I return to restless sleep. I wake up: George is dead. Repeat. Repeat. Needless to say, I had a restless night.

I can’t stop thinking about it. Not that I’m trying to. It’s just that every time I get lost in my work, or relax, or literally five minutes goes by, someone calls, or texts, or emails me. People looking for answers I can’t give them. People hoping that I’ll be strong, or help them understand. I don’t have answers, and I feel powerless and lost.

People keep saying things like, “I know it’s not as bad for me as it is for (Rory, Jenny, George’s family, etc.), and I cannot say this enough: Grief is not a scale. There is no comparison. If I thought anyone had the rights to all the grief, I would have never mentioned it once. The loss of George is overwhelming for George’s family. I cannot fathom their thoughts, their pain, or their loss. But there’s no metric for this.

I want to say to all of my readers, friends, and family: I am not alone. I am not the only one with pain. I find solace in the voices crying out. I want to cry out back:

You aren’t alone, and your feelings are perfectly valid.

It’s okay to be hurt. It’s okay to feel lost. It’s okay to not know what to do, or what to say. We don’t know either. This is a total nightmare for everyone. Feel your feelings, be honest with yourself, and be honest with those you love. Your feelings are valid. And I realize as I type this that my feelings are valid too.

I’m going to go cry in my room, hiding from my kids while my snot and tears soak into my wife’s shirt. This sucks.

My Best Friend Just Died

Dispair Dude Death

I don’ t even know where to begin. At therapy yesterday, I received a message from George‘s mother, asking that I swing by and check on him. This isn’t an unusual request. He’s long since accepted that I would just show up sometimes to make sure he was okay. My therapist’s office was about, I dunno, a block and a half from his house, so I said “sure” and went over.

I knocked on the door. I called into his (slightly open) window. I got no answer. I knocked for another few minutes, and finally realized that knocking wasn’t going to do it. His car was there. His roommates’ cars weren’t. I really wanted to just go in. But, of course, there are trespassing laws and stuff, and I’m not on a come-on-in basis with his roommates. So, I did the only rational (and most responsible) decision possible. I called the police, and requested a wellness check.

In case you don’t know, a wellness check is when an officer (or a few of them) go into a person’s home without a warrant because of justifiable belief that the person who should invite them in, well, can’t. I answered a bunch of questions about when he had been seen last, about his recent personal and professional life, and then they went in. It turns out, one of the roommates was home, but didn’t hear me knocking over his video games. 100% understandable, and I am not being sarcastic, that’s a thing, and it’s totally valid. #HermitLife

The roommate invited us in. The officers knocked on George’s bedroom door, called out, etc. No answer. They went in, saw him in bed, and called out some more. I looked in. He looked like he was sleeping. He was laying in his bed, looking just like he always does when he’s asleep. Except he wasn’t breathing.

The officers had the roommate and me leave the house, and we talked with a lot of officers and a detective, and stuff happened. They were kind, professional, and were seriously the nicest folks on the planet. I think I may bake them cookies, and that’s not a joke.

An officer drove me to George’s parents’ home, and I had the saddest honor of my life. I broke the news to them in person. For the rest…. Well, I’m going to leave that alone. Not my story to tell.

What I came here to say is this: Call you mother. Tell her you love her. I am going to today, and that’s not something I normally do, for a variety of reasons. *cough, cough* Call your friends. George was not an old guy. He was not even middle-aged. He just died. Don’t assume everyone knows you love them. Tell them, goddammit.

Goodbye George. I wipe a tear from my eyes as I type this, but I love you, and always will.

Rory the Rodeo Raccoon

Yes, you read that right. No, I am not a raccoon. I’m just very excited to hear that Jenny Lawson has finally finished her second book! The cover features a rodeo raccoon named Rory. See?


Image: Jenny Lawson's publishers, I think.

Image: Jenny Lawson’s publishers, I think.

So yeah. You can pre-order the book. It is totally coming home with me. I wonder if Jenny Lawson would sell me this cute guy? I want him in my home, pronto. So yeah.

Pumped up day.