Living Out Loud: : Some Days

Remembering my twin brother

His name was Jered.

Last month, I was back in his neck of the woods, Seattle. I walked past the apartment building where he lived and hung out at some of the bars and restaurants that he liked.

On my first morning there, I was awakened by a seagull flying past my hotel room window. It reminded me of a dream that I had 10 years ago, of a seagull flying against a backdrop of mountains and pine trees. Somehow the beautiful white bird was Jered and it would be the last dream I would have of him while he was alive.

He could make me laugh harder than anyone. His dry, often wicked sense of humor would throw off people who didn't really know him, and he loved that. He loved being off center, being bizarre.

He could keep a straight face while telling outrageous, ridiculous tales and I, his gullible audience, ate it all up.

Then later, when thinking back to his remarks, I would realize — hey wait! Yeah, I'd just been had — again.

He was a private man. He didn't like to talk much about himself or where his life had taken him. Some considered him aloof and standoffish. He was careful about people he let into his world.

But for the family and friends he let in, he was a warm and generous person. When Jered loved you, you knew it. He took it all very seriously. If you were down, in trouble or just needed someone to talk to, you could count on him. I know this, because I counted on him a lot. He never once let me down.

Ten years ago I was getting ready to hop on an airplane back to Seattle to be with him, because he was ill. I was paged before I boarded the plane. It was a friend telling me Jered had died.

I don't remember much about that flight on Sept. 27, 1994, just that I wasn't with him. He died alone in a hospital bed in Swedish Hospital. He died of AIDS.

His dying alone will haunt me forever. I wanted — I needed — to hold his hand. I wanted to tell him that I loved him over and over again, to thank him for being my twin brother.

But I didn't. I couldn't. I was getting ready to get on a goddamn airplane that would arrive in Seattle too late. Maybe it wasn't my fault, but I fucking blew it. I fucking blew it.

It's not right for me to be 50 years old and not have him here. It's not right for me to have this empty feeling inside and to feel so incomplete. It's not right for me to remember our childhood together and to always feel sadness. It's not right for God to have taken him from me.

But my life goes on.

Most days, I'm going about my business as usual. Most days, I do what I need to do. Most days, I go to work, go home, listen to music, read good books, maybe put my own words on a page or get together with some friends. Most days, I'm doing just fine.

But some days are not like most days. Some days when I'm shaving, the man in the bathroom mirror looking back isn't me; it's Jered. Some days when I'm walking down the sidewalk, it's not I walking; he is. Some days when I'm talking to someone on the phone that we both knew, the words coming out of my mouth are not my words but Jered's.

Some days I need him standing beside me. I need to see him, hug him and laugh with him again. Some days I need to pick up the phone and talk to him. On those days, it's hard to face the fact that he's gone.

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