Tag Archives: George

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.

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.

Three Very Mature Adults Play a Game

Last night was a blast. We had fun eating too much pizza, eating ice cream, and playing games with the kids. After they had adjourned to enjoy the last week of summer break, we busted out Cards Against Humanity. We all dreaded playing without George. It was one of our favorite games to play together. Preferably while drinking. We decided to get it over with, and start feeling like normal, horrible human beings.

At some point, we nearly gave up. We weren’t having fun, and it just didn’t feel right. We decided (by lack of decision making) to keep going. God, I’m glad we did. All hell broke loose with this combination:

Image: Rory Bristol

Image: Rory Bristol

Guess which answer was mine?

It broke the tension so hard. So hard I thought we’d all laugh until we split our sides. Later, another card made Jenny and our other friend laugh really hard. I loved the card, but gave them this quiet are-you-done-yet look until they settled down. Then I whispered, “bad, bad girl.”

That was it. The tension was so damned broken by that point, I wondered if I’d ever stop laughing. It felt good. It felt really good. Sitting down with two amazing people, playing an intimate game of horrible everything, and laughing at how horrible we actually aren’t. It was great. I was still depressed, but I felt like my soul had seen some of that magical stuff called “sunshine”. It was just what I needed.

The tears came back later, but they came with a smile for the red-faced laughter that George would have been wearing for twenty minutes after that card had been played. It wasn’t quite so terrible, somehow.

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.