Saturday, 14 March 2015

Joe

So today I thought it was time to start writing about something, or rather someone, who I feel I have been overdue in talking about. That somebody is my cousin Joe. It's been 3 years since he died and I still find it difficult to get my head around how someone you spent time with, someone who's this big part of your childhood, is now gone. Sometimes I say it out loud just to try and make it sink in. Even now, when I've had a fair bit of time to adjust, there are days when it still doesn't feel real. I suppose I would say that the pain isn't as raw anymore, and although I still have those moments when I can't stop myself from crying when I think about him, they're not as frequent as they used to be. It's easier to focus on the happy memories now and be thankful for the fact that he was and still is a big part of my life rather than feel sick to my stomach from the hollowness I get when I think about the fact that I'll no longer hear his voice or spend summers with him at my Nana and Grandad's. I'll never again hear him laugh or hear him talk. It's hard to always focus on the happy things. The fact that I got to share some of my best childhood memories with him and got to know this amazing person who was in many cases more of a brother figure than my oldest brother ever was. It's hard not to feel angry and heart broken that there won't be any new memories. That he won't grow up and experience some of the greatest joys of life. That he won't be there to tell when I experience them too. That I became older than he ever will be and the amount of time since I last saw him will only ever be an increasing number. It's hard not to miss having him around. I'm not sure how long it will take before it doesn't feel like there's a gaping hole when I see family. We all miss him and we all would give anything to get to spend just one more minute with him.

One of the most overwhelming things about Joe dying was this sense of responsibility. A responsibility to keep our memories safe, to remember all the things we did together as I'm the only one here to remember them now. I couldn't bear the thought of them being lost forever. So the day he died, and the weeks proceeding, I made a list. A list of memories. And whenever I have a particularly hard say, I sit down and pick a memory and write it in as much detail as I can remember. The memories I found most precious and most sad were surprisingly the little things that you take for granted and never even think about. The day when I first properly began to realise that he wasn't going to make it, I went to bed in the evening and as I was standing, brushing my teeth in the bathroom, I broke down in tears because I realised that we were never going to brush our teeth together again. It seems like such a strange thing to miss but it was suddenly one of the things I was going to miss the most. That normality. That routine. 

Death always taints memory. It makes you more inclined to make a saint out of a person. The thing is, for me, Joe was and always will be seen through rose tinted glasses. He was a year older than me and had such a way about him, a charisma and a genuineness that is rare to find. And there I was, lucky enough to have him as my cousin. When I was younger, when my brother still spent summers at my Nana and Grandads with me and Joe, he was just like an older brother to me, except infinitely cooler because I never spent too much time with him so I was never mad at him. Although he did come close a few times when I got incessant teasing from both him and my brother. But then when it was just me and him, he would always treat me with respect and we had our own jokes together. I always treasured those moments and for a long part of my childhood I absolutely idolised him. Any time I got to see him was a good time for me. Even when the childish adoration faded, there was always that deep rooted excitement whenever I knew I was going to see him and when my brother stopped spending summer holidays at my Nana's and it was just me and Joe, I couldn't have been happier. Joe was always a highlight in my life. I used to get so upset and angry if I thought we weren't going to see each other in the summer. Because it was always a treat to spend any time with him and never a disappointment. That was one of the bonuses of living so far away from each other, although I wish I could've seen him more often, when we did see each other, we wasted no time in feeling upset with each other. Besides, I can't imagine ever being angry with him. We got on so well and had such a great time together. I'm just so thankful that my childhood and part of my teenage years were filled with such wonderful memories with him, my Nana, my Grandad and sometimes other family. What I'm trying to get at is that seeing Joe was one of those things that was always good, and from early on I learnt not to take it for granted. I used to cry when we had to say goodbye, and that only stopped when I was old enough to keep my own contact with him between visits.

I was planning on writing out some of the memories that I've kept in a notebook but if I did I'd be here for ages, and this post would go on for a while. That fact alone makes me smile, that we had enough memories that i've still not written them all down. The one regret I have is that I never really took any photos or videos when we were together. My Nana and Grandad weren't exactly tech savvy and I was too busy enjoying myself to even pull out the camera. So, without going into detail of memories, I'll just say this. I love you so much Joe, I miss you so much, I can't believe that 3 years ago today you left a massive hole in our lives. I really hope that I'll get to see you again someday and if not, if death really is the end then I thank you for all of the happy times we had, all of the laughter where you can't breathe and for being such an amazing person. I really am so lucky that you are a part of my life at all. 

xx


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