Life seemed to be going quite like a Billy Joel song. Well, I’m not really one for Billy Joel. Actually, let me rephrase that before all of Long Island starts sending me death threats. I like Billy Joel, and I’m just as guilty as the next person for blasting a song or two, but if I had to give my life a theme song, I’m not enough of a fan to say it would be a song by Billy Joel. I’m more of a Slightly Stoopid girl myself. But you get the point. My life was nice, and it was easy. Well, at least looking back now, I’d say it was. I’m sure there was something stressing me out at that time, like my boss asking me to work late, causing me to miss happy hour with my friends. Or trying to remember what that dude who was texting me looked like so I could decide whether I would accept his invitation to drinks or not, just to end up deciding I didn’t want to get dressed and do my hair and end up blowing him off for said happy hour with my friends.
I was working a job that I actually really enjoyed, which seems like a rarity these days. I was boomeranging brunches (which I think, we, as a society have decided to stop doing, god bless), or forcing shots down my friends’ throats at a classy vineyard or something, and probably getting us kicked out. I’m not saying the chicks boomeranging brunches have it all figured out. Actually, I’m pretty sure three consecutive brunch boomerangs is a literal cry for help according to the FBI. But my point is, I had good friends, a good job, was having a lot of fun, and life seemed to be going pretty smoothly. That is until someone took the aux cord and cranked up a Heavy Metal song.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Heavy Metal rock out, but for it to become the new theme song to all areas of your life after just having a Slightly Stoopid vibe going for a while, without any warning, is a bit much. No one asked for the aux cord. They just hit “next” mid song, like an asshole and cranked the volume all the way up.
We don’t get a warning that life is about to get shitty. You don’t get an email saying “Hey Rach, seems like things are going pretty well, just a heads up – your brother’s going to die soon. Best wishes, Management”.
If I am being honest though, a part of me new something was going to happen. I definitely didn’t think my brother was going to die, but I knew something major was about to happen. I got this very strange feeling, a sense of anxiety almost. Not a good feeling, not a bad feeling, just a sense of change coming. There was no excitement, no anticipation. Just a feeling. I couldn’t shake it. My mind was blank.
I had always felt this strange connection to Kenny. And I’m not saying this now because he’s gone. I just always have. Kenny got in trouble a lot (more on that later). But even before my mom would tell us something was wrong, I always got this strange feeling. I couldn’t tell you exactly what was wrong, but I always kind of knew when something was wrong when it came to Kenny. They say that happens sometimes, a connection between the oldest sibling and the youngest sibling. Kenny was the oldest. I was the youngest. Sylvia and Garrett in between (sorry guys). I’m in no way calling myself a psychic because if that was the case, geez, things would have gone much differently. But I do like to think of myself as pretty intuitive and I believe you can share that with certain people. And I believe I shared that with Kenny.
For about the whole day before Kenny died, my mind raced about what this feeling could be. Like I said, things were going smooth. Work was good. Friends were great. Stress was minimal. I couldn’t pin it. I couldn’t even label it with one emotion. When it came down to it, it really just felt like change. But a big change. Big enough to the point that when a guy asked me out and I read that message, I thought, “I don’t think I’m going to be able to meet up with him for a while. I don’t think I’m going to be able to see anyone for a while. Something is going to happen and change a lot.” I answered with a “sure!”, but a part of me didn’t think it would happen. Something just felt wrong. It wasn’t the guy. I was actually kind of into him and we ended up dating for a bit about a year later. (But his strong hatred for 7/11 coffee ended up getting in the way, as most do) It was the timing. Something felt off. Those texts were exchanged around 5:30pm that day. My brother died at just about the same time.
Maybe what I was feeling was some external force, maybe it was just a reaction to repetitive behavior, maybe it was hindsight. Whatever you want to call it, either way it in no way prepared me for the truth.
One night you’re just getting ready for bed and two police officers come knocking on your door to tell you your brother was killed in an accident and that you need to go identify his body in the morning. Your body goes numb. You’re standing there with no feeling in legs. You’re nauseous. Your brain freezes. Your thoughts are moving in slow motion as your mind is trying to translate what just happened. Everything was just fine, and now it’s not. You immediately think, “Ok how do we fix this?”, and you quickly realize, you can’t. This is life and death. Your heart stops, your brain stops. You panic, you bargain, you plead. But nothing changes it. Kenny died. There was life before Kenny died, and now there is life after Kenny died. You wonder how everything could have just been fine and now everything is on fire. Your brain begins spiraling down a drain of thoughts, questions, and ideas that you would have never imagined (but I’ll save all of those scary thoughts for another time). And before any of you start calling me a pessimist, I’m a Pisces, so fuck off. For those of you who aren’t constantly reading about astrology, searching for some hope or reassurance that the douchebag you’ve been texting is for sure “THE ONE”, Pisces are the “dreamers” of the zodiac world. So, as a Pisces, I cannot be a pessimist. The planets said so! No disrespect to my astrology peeps either, I still get my daily AstroFuture notifications too. But astrology aside, I would label myself as a hopeful realist. I hope for good things. I wish the world was better, but I know it’s not. Horrible things happen all the time at random. We have no say in who lives and dies. We lose the people we love and we’re supposed to just continue on. It’s cruel, really. One day you’re just here, loving the people around you, and then they’re just gone. Well that’s life. There are no caution signs of what lies ahead. People get sick. People hurt other people. People die. It’s a cruel place.
Life, real life, I’m talking after the traumatic experiences, the real experiences, the hurt, the sorrow. That type of life…is a poorly lit night club with moldy shag carpeting. They only serve cheap rum. It smells like old wet cigarettes and the DJ is playing your least favorite song on repeat. Take any seat you want. There is no one else here. Well at least it feels like that for now.
No one invited me. No one even welcomed me at the door. I was just there. That’s how it happens. Life, I mean. Life just happens. Things are fine, and then they aren’t. If you can’t relate to this now, one day you probably will, and you can stop reading this now because you probably won’t relate to much else in here, or maybe you will, I don’t know. Or you can just keep reading to feel better about your own life compared to mine up until this moment. But if you can relate to this, then hey! I hear you and I am with you. So, on behalf of whatever deity you believe in, I would like to formally welcome you to the Shit Show.