Friday, 19 April 2013

the nineteenth of April

today is the day my brother died. we don't know when, exactly, but the landlord found his lifeless body in the communal hallway around half past ten. nobody knows what was going through his mind then. he didn't leave a note. just two empty vodka bottles and a body that ran out of breath.

i remember quite clearly the phone call. i was walking past Dream beds on Tottenham Court Road when the nightmare began. "the inevitable's happened. Paul's gone." i think i squeaked something out before a strange, impassive sense of calm descended on me.

i met my boyfriend at Warren Street and greeted him with the cold, hard words: "Paul's dead". we hugged for too long and then walked up Hampstead Road to get back home. past the old alcoholic's treatment centre, of all ironies. past flats full of alcoholics like Paul, i expect.

when i got home my housemates asked if everything was alright like they already knew it wasn't. i don't know if they did. i know i didn't want to upset them so i just said yes, with a fake cheerful smile that i stuck on my face over the coming black weeks. then i went home to my mum.

i don't remember anything of that weekend.

on Monday i called my boss into a meeting room and told her with what i thought was the appropriate tone of voice that my eldest brother had died last week and i would need exactly two days off for the funeral and no more because i was absolutely fine and i wouldn't need to take any more time off from work at all.

i don't remember anything of that week.

until the funeral. i wasn't sure whether to wear trousers or a skirt. but i couldn't ask my mum because my voice had disappeared. maybe it was visiting Paul's soul to say the last words i never got to say. i didn't visit his body.

Jason cried in the car park. it was the first expression of grief i'd seen. it just made me more like stone. i wasn't upset. i was relieved, and guilty that i was relieved, and angry about feeling guilty, and ashamed because i couldn't cry. my Dad did though.

i read a poem. well i tried. the congregation gasped as my shell-shocked vocal cords straining at the sounds a normal person would make. but i wasn't normal and i never will be again.

at the wake, Jonathan played Paul's music and distributed copies of his poems, "because they should be seen." shame no one saw that while he was alive. i was angry again, but only on the inside.

it took a long while for my anger and guilt and shame to reach the top of the bottomless pit of deep dark despair that i didn't know existed in a hole in my heart. once that happened i started leaking. it wouldn't stop.

it doesn't stop.

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