Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Jeff Coker (December 31, 1977 - August 28, 1997)

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?


teacher dude said...

There are times when words, no matter how well intentioned, cannot deal with the enormity of what we feel. I know that whatever anyone says, it cannot come close to helping you with what you feel, but let me say them anyway.

I am sorry about what happened to your brother, from everything I've read about him in your blog he sounded like a wonderful person who deserved better.

Anonymous said...

I always saw you as a fighter, I'm glad you're still fighting, overcoming and surviving. I am very proud of you.

Tealrat said...

Thank you. I appreciate your comments very much. It helps a lot when my brother is acknowledged. He was a wonderful person, and I miss him.

Anonymous, who are you? I moderate these comments, so you can leave a private comment that I won't publish if you want :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being so open... I really am glad that I had contacted you. I didn't want the reunion thing to upset you... I will be sending you pictures later on (if you want them).

Take care of yourself... and please keep following the positive path.

I remember you when you were in high school. I remember when you were friend's with my brother and you'd be at my house. You seemed so sad... and now I understand why. I was just a child at the time.

I just wish somebody could have helped you and your brother. I really do... I'm so sorry.

Unknown said...

I remember Jeff well...I went to school with him since first grade. My life hasn't always been easy, but Jeff was always nice to me, (even when I wasn't). Best of the best.

Tealrat said...

Thank you Karin for the comment about Jeff. It's really nice to hear. Just went through his 37th birthday. I made him a Facebook page if you're interested. It's under "Jeff Coker". ~Kristina

Tealrat said...

Hi Nadia, I am very glad you did contact me about the reunion. I remember you and your brother as well. I hope you are both doing well. I'm on Facebook if you want to connect, under Kristina Ma'autseshat Morgan.

Take care! ~Kristina