Thursday, February 13, 2014

West of Independence Soundtrack Part 5

To Recap:
1. Willy Porter "Unconditional"
2. David Bowie "Heroes"
3. Journey "Don't Stop Believin'"
4. Matt Hires "State Lines"
5. Toad the Wet Sprocket "Windmills"
6. The Damnwells "Texas"
7. Ian Axel "Gone"
8. Greg Holden "The Lost Boy"
9. Rick Springfield "Tear It All Down"
10. Greg Laswell "Sweet Dream"
11. HYUNA "Bubble Pop"
12. Pink "U and UR Hand"
13. Mat Kearney "Fire and Rain"
14. Ben Folds "Still Fighting It"
15. Snow Patrol "You Could Be Happy"

16. Greg Laswell "High and Low"

I have heard it said many times that suicide is a selfish act. In Jared's case, I believe the more selfish act was mine, in that I abandoned him in his hours of need. Looking "high and low" for Jared, knowing that he was most likely already dead, was a painful and anxious experience, but nothing could prepare me for finding him. I am left now to wish that I had looked as intently into my brother's living eyes as I did for his body after his death.

From West of Independence page 296

I peeled open a dozen scraps of paper, one after another. Most of them were random thoughts and reminders Jared had scribbled to himself. I read each of them to myself, scanning them for some hint of a note, address, or anything else that might serve as a clue. Nothing stood out or made sense of Jared’s disappearance. Not until I opened the last piece of paper in the pile.

The date and time stamp on the drug store receipt were for Wednesday afternoon, the day before our search had begun. My eyes blurred as I read aloud the items purchased.

Sarah sat on Jared’s bed and cried.

17. Sigur Rós "Hoppípolla"

There are so many things that I want to experience in the afterlife, like flying unassisted over beautiful landscapes, soaring into the sky, and speeding across space to watch the birth of planets and the death of stars. I want to do all of it with Jared, and were I to arrive at the other side of death to find the afterlife to be nothing more than a myth, I would tear holes in space just to make it happen. I would create a God, define his plan, and reach back into the fabric of time to bring it all to pass.

But thank God I won't have to; I can tell you now that it is not a myth. In the afterlife we will be young and old, innocent and wise, content and restless.

And Jared will teach me to fly.

From West of Independence page 303

I held Jared tight.

“I’m so sorry that I abandoned you. I thought my life was so bad, and that I had so much to deal with that I couldn’t help you. I’m sorry that you hurt so bad for so long, and that I didn’t do enough for you. I should have spent more time being your brother and loving you, but I didn’t. I spent too many years telling you what was wrong with your life, I wish now that I had just loved you. All you wanted was love, and it took me too long to give you mine. I was selfish, hypocritical, and wrong. Jared, I miss you so much, and I will until the day I see you again...” I paused, my breath outpaced by my emotions.

Connor reached out and grabbed my hand. I felt a surge of warm strength course through me.

“And I know that I will see you. This is not the end; we will be together again, and we will laugh, and you will be happy, and you will never be sad again. I know this,” I said firmly.

I looked up at the sky and continued. “God, you’d better be listening. Please take care of my little brother Jared. He is sad, and he is lonely, and he needs love. We failed to give him enough of it here, so you need to do right by him. He is so beautiful, but he is broken. Please take care of him,” I begged heaven.

Connor and I stood holding hands.

It was a comfortable silence.


18. Mat Kearney "All I Need"

I've made no secret about the fact that I fell apart after Jared's death. Most of what I thought I believed crumbled away into the muddy river of grief that boiled around me. One night, Elizabeth (Ella) told me about a woman she knew whose husband had suffered a crisis of his own, and had done his absolute best to push her away from him forever. Rather than accepting that their marriage was over and leave him, she looked him in the eyes and told him that she had married him out of love, and that she had signed up for the bad times as well as the good. She would wait for him to work it out, and while he did, she would keep their family moving in the right direction, because she had faith that he would find his way back to them one day.

He did.

I was blessed to have had Elizabeth standing at my side on that terrible day in the woods, and I was blessed to have her patience and love as I found my way back afterwards.

From West of Independence page page 308

There is a tightness in my chest with each anxious, life-giving breath. Strange, feral, sorrowful sounds are coming from my throat. I look down at the ground, away from him. Through blurry eyes, I see long strands of spit dripping from my lips, and as I watch them coat the dirt beneath me, I marvel that I don’t care. 

My mind leaps across time. From one memory to another, a rapid, fitful slide show of the past thirty-six years flashes before me. I am trembling, weak, and defeated.

 Something warm glides across my shoulder, a reminder that I am not alone. Ella is with me, and I thank God that she is here with me in this terrible moment.

I can hear her whimpers, and feel her body shaking. She kneels beside me, her hand sliding up and down my back. She has put it there to connect with me, to comfort me, but also to hold me in place. She knows me. She knows that I want to run over there, to scoop him into my arms. To hold him. To fix him. I lift my head up, and my knees press harder into soil from the effort. My arms are limp and useless, my chest is heaving. I look over at him once more, and another growl escapes my throat.

Ella has her pink phone against her ear. I can hear her speaking, but her words make no sense.

I fall forward, and my forehead touches the earth again. A deep breath, and I begin to wail. I am surrounded by darkness as the whine of a distant siren blends with mine.

19. Glen Phillips “Released”

In the years since Jared's death, I have spent many hours at the spot where he died. Some may find this morbid and unhealthy, and I admit that the first few times were exactly that. In time, however, as I came to a better understanding of what my brother had been going through and the absolute desperation he had felt in those final months of his life, I was able to sit quietly and imagine his final moments without suffering a complete breakdown. I watched as he walked outside and felt the sun warm his skin while a slight breeze tousled his hair. His decision to leave the world made, he crossed the lawn looking into the big blue above, not believing that any sort of God was watching and caring. But I have no doubt that in some small corner of his mind, Jared was hoping to find a heavenly father waiting for him with open arms on the other side, to offer him the peace of unconditional love that he craved.

I won't be convinced by anyone or anything that Jared's sliver of hope wasn't fulfilled. I refuse to believe in a God that would withhold from Jared the only thing that could possibly make him happy and well, the thing he wanted more than anything else in this world.

20. The Weepies "World Spins Madly On"

Elizabeth and I spent last week in Hawaii, a welcome reprieve from the day to day. On our last evening spent at the beautiful North Shore of Oahu, we went shopping for tee shirts for the kids. Standing at the back window of a local shop, I watched a group of stand-up paddle boarders out on the ocean, and thought about how much I was going to miss the curling jade-colored waves. As I mused about our week in Paradise, the opening strums of "World Spins Madly On" by The Weepies came over the store's sound system. I stood an watched the world around me spin madly on, and marveled at the fact that is has been almost five years since Jared died.

Life has gone on, in defiance of the many moments that I have wanted it to pause, or even at times to end. Jared's death, in addition to bringing great sadness and guilt into my life, has also brought great joy and hope. My kids are more precious, my life is more meaningful, and for the most part sweeter to live.

Halfway through the song, Elizabeth came and stood beside me.

"Perfect timing, don't you think?" she said, letting me know that I was not alone in my thoughts.

"Yep," I replied, enjoying the buzz and spark of her presence as it tingled up and down my right side.

Thank-you, Jared.