suzie's patchouli


California, USA
April 24
Aging hippie biker chick, neurotic Earth mother, good at rocking babies to sleep, baking bread, and procrastinating. Live in the sticks with kindly patient husband, many cats, and a needy dog. Have four excellent daughters (two birth, two step) and five bright and incredibly photogenic grandchildren. Writing makes me happy and crazy and sane all at the same time.


NOVEMBER 14, 2011 12:07AM

Missing Joey

Rate: 24 Flag


My beautiful sister & her lost boys.

Well, God knows, I can't turn this into a post about "me" but I am sad & grieving & I have the shittiest cold in the world & a fever of 102 & I can barely breathe & I'm all snotty & disgusting & my chest feels like it's filled with rocks.

But that may just be grief.

My nephew died tonight.  My sweet kind funny trusting nephew left on another journey, & we are all heartbroken.  I thought the odds were on his side, seeing as how his younger brother, Todd, died over 30 years ago.  I mean, what are the odds of losing TWO sons.  My brother-in-law jokes that whenever he flies, he carries a bomb in his suitcase, because what are the odds that TWO people will be carrying a bomb.

That's kind of how I felt about Joe.  My sister had already paid her dues in the Lost Child department.  It seemed impossible that it would happen again.

Even when we stood by Joe's bed & heard stuff like "hospice" & "brain stem damage" & "so-small-a-chance-of-surviving-as-to-be-practically-nil" we still hoped for the Big Giant Miracle.  

And it didn't happen.  

And, just like when Todd died, we have no idea how to properly cope with it, except now we realize there IS no way to properly cope with losing a child.  Doesn't exist.   "Proper" & "grief" don't even belong in the same sentence.  I think wailing is in order.   Heavy drinking, maybe.   Staring blankly into space for weeks.  Asking Why Why Why over & over, even knowing there will be no Deep Voice answering your question, unless maybe it comes to you in a dream.

If you ever sleep again.

When Todd died, we all fell into our roles.  His broken & grieving mom & dad took down all his pictures, his dad turned to drugs, his mom read Kubler-Ross & tried to cope with the chaos of their lives & the fact that she still had two small children to raise.

We siblings -- we cried, but only alone.  We darkly joked, which is our way, about death & blindness & stuff that we couldn't talk seriously about without being scared shitless at all the potential disasters waiting around corners & in dark rooms & Ford Pintos.

Our mom -- Todd's Grandma -- told me (when she was falling into old age & trying to dodge senility) that the worst thing that ever happened in her whole life was Todd dying, that she never got over it, & never would.

And now I am sure that she is with Joey.  Mom being impatient, she was probably standing in the corner of the hospital room when Mercy stepped in & took him away from his suffering.  I am sure she held her arms out & pulled him close.  Joe always was her favorite, being the oldest AND a boy.  The first grandchild always holds a special place in the heart of the grandparents.  And no, I did NOT read this off a bumpersticker, I know this because I'm a first grandchild and...hey...entire photo album of  JUST me!

And of Joe.  Tomorrow I'll put up Memorial Photos on Facebook.  Maybe it will help us all feel better, seeing his life, from little blond kid thru acid-washed jeans teen thru Mullet-Wearing 20-something (& Joe did have the World's Best Mullet) thru happily-in-love-finally Almost 40.  

I wish you'd made 40, Joe.  And 50, damn it!  60, even! (I read a quote once that said "60 is just like 30 except with a case of really bad flu."  I wish you'd had a chance to find out if that's true.) 

I know you're at peace now & with your grandma who is gazing at you all adoringly, like she always did.  Meanwhile, we're all left here, once again broken, seeing you in shaky 16mm & trying to figure out how to manage without you.  (And if this sounds all Hallmark-y & maudlin, too bad, I'm grieving & have a fever.)

Mom -- give him a big hug from all of us & tell him we miss him so much already!  Yeah, Mom...we miss you, too.  NO, I didn't just add that as a last thought, we DO miss you...Granted, you were kind of annoying those last few years, but...Mom!  I don't want to argue!  Just love him, okay!  Yeah...I KNOW you're good at that.  I love you, Mom!  I love you, Joe!  


Oh...and P.S.:  Joe, could you remind your grandma that we could use a little celestial help with our lottery picks...


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I tried to sleep but found I couldn't and somehow knew this time I would find you here. You make me cry and laugh nodding my head and I thank you for that. I love you sis and we will survive somehow I still have children to raise and my beautiful granddaughter. Seems God gave me another reason to live again this time..
What a beautiful little boy. Like an angel. This is unbelievably surreal. Your sister losing her second son. Losing one child goes against the natural order of things but losing two - it defies everything you think you know to be true. How can you even think logically when there is no more logic in the world. I have 4 of my own and I can't even pretend to understand what it feels like. And how strange, today a friend of mine broke down thinking about her own tow-headed Joey, who died in 2009, also far too young. Of course your mom will take good care of him and he has no worries or pain now - but I am so very sorry he didn't make it to 40 and beyond. Please accept my condolences and take of yourself too.
thinking about your family
This was beautiful.
"Oh...and P.S.: Joe, could you remind your grandma that we could use a little celestial help with our lottery picks..."

ME TOO!! ME TOO!! Please? :)

~hugs to you both~
Suzie, the pics are lovely, and this whole story makes me cry. I can't imagine losing one child. Two is unfathomable. Holding you both in my heart.
Beautiful. My fingers are too choked up to type. And, the tears are again running down my cheek!
Suzie, I am so sorry. This is just so sad. Holding you all in thoughts and prayers tonight.

With love.
What beautiful sisters you are.
How lucky Joe to be surrounded by so much love.
How lucky we to be allowed to listen in.
Know that however feelings are and come and go
that you, both of you, all of you,
are held ... in the darkest night
and in the brightest dawn
by all you have touched so deeply
here ...
Your sisterly love for each other and the children in your life will help you get through this devastating loss. xo
You are blessed to have each other.
There are no words to help so I send love to lift you both through this horrible time.
(Hope your cold goes away too!)
Your sister needs your love and support now and here it is. I am so sad for all of you. Blessings.
Hear, hear . . . lighting a candle for you guys . . .
I love the way you write. You and your sister are special souls and I am so sorry that the odds decieved you. I love the bomb joke-- Seriously what are the odds? In my own personal hell, which pales in light of your loss, I kept saying/screeching, " What are the odds." Suddenly, it seemed that the odds thing was junk science. What a powerful picture at the end-- what a reunion that will be. Beautiful, charming, humorous, and sad words here.
suzie, you are simply the best there is - best sister, best auntie, best wailer. and sometimes, yes, that's what you need to do, all you can do. and since you're one of the best writers on this site, it's a none-other sort of experience to read your pieces about a boy none of us here ever met; they make me feel as though he lived nextdoor. i'm sorry you feel like crap. colds and flus and dead children will do that to you. i'm so so so sorry, woman.
Thank you all so very much for all of the kind words, the virtual hugs, the poems, the outpouring of caring & of shared experience! Sometimes it seems odd to pour everything out, but talk is difficult when you can't form the words without a shaky broken voice, & writing is healing. I think back to the world before phones, & how so much of our communicating was done by letters, & OS reminds me of that time. Because when you're grieving you don't always hear what's spoken -- like the Far Side cartoon -- "blah blah blah Ginger" -- but you can hold words -- cards & letters & "comments" -- & go back to them again & again for comfort & understanding.
Missed this earlier. Really lovely.
I was raised not to presume a friendship unless invited, but part of the problem with OS is that it feels like family- and family doesn't need an invite to care. I'm so sorry for your family's loss, losses- it's good to know Lunchlady has a sister like you.
You have a way with words Aunt Kathy, I started bawling with the truth of your words but as any your spirit calls for you lift with the silliness to keep some sanity. I love you so much and I am so thankful for you.