I found out this week that my brother's high school class (of 1996) is having a reunion this weekend. The class reunion website memorialized him. I feel good that they are remembering him, but it has been an emotional week. I thought I would take a stab at writing a memorial for Jeff, to mark the occasion (and the anniversary of his death at the end of this month).
Jeff was the saving grace of my childhood. It scares me to think of what I might be like if he had not been there. He is the reason I can believe in other people and that I did not lose faith in humanity. He was my friend, my ally, the one person I could always count on. He was proud of me- the only person in my life who recognized how hard I was fighting and how well I was really doing. To have him look up to me, brag about me, idolize me, was an amazing feeling. He made me feel like I was worth something.
I wish I could have given that feeling back to him. I do not think he had any idea how important he was and how devastating his death would be. He was funny, smart, and original- it was not just that he kept me company while we were kids. He kept me laughing at the absurdity of life, kept me aware that not everyone was cruel and vicious. Some people are sweet and care about other people. There are people who are fun and make you happy when you are around them. He was light, and I was dark. He saw good things in me, and trusted me. I was important to him, and he was the person I admired the most. I was guarded and distrustful, and he was open and vulnerable.
How he changed in the last year of his life shocked me. One of his closest friends, Brandon Wisniew, died around the time they finished high school. His friends left for college, and he spent a semester in Eugene, Oregon living in an apartment so small you could not stand up straight without hitting your head. He seemed less light, less open, and more dark and secretive. He seemed more like me- bad development. I needed him to be happy, lighthearted, and hilarious. I needed our inside jokes, our comedy routines, and our sarcastic humor. It was what kept me going. When I lost him, I lost my optimism, I lost my faith in myself, and I lost trust in the world. He was that important to me.
I suppose I have had to find those qualities I valued about him in myself, and accept that it was unrealistic for me to think that I could protect him from his life, and take on all the struggle and pain for the both of us. I wanted him live in happy, supportive, social, friendly world, while I battled loneliness, depression, and untrustworthy people for the both of us. I thought he was better than I was, and would live in a better world that I experienced when I was around him.
Obviously, better world did not work out so great. I still think he deserved better though. He was a good person, a very good person, a credit to humanity and a blessing to his friends and family. He did not deserve to die. It should not have happened. Life is not fair, is it?