Tag: coming of age

Twin Summers Together

mary-ann-fallsEvery year my family and I went up to the north. Up to the island where the best beaches opened up into the Atlantic Ocean. My father was from this part of the province. We spent Christmas time each year at his parent’s place a bit south, then camped up north for at least a couple of weeks every August.

Our family was always up in these parts during late summer. Something I always looked forward to soo much after a year of being bullied at school. It was an escape from “reality” and from feeling “trapped” at school and in the town we lived in.

This time It was the summer of 1994. We always camped in tents. We never could afford a trailer or camper van. I always preferred this. My grandfather had a camper trailer that fit on the back of his truck. I was always told that it was only for the girl cousins in the family. Camping in a tent seemed much cooler to me anyway since I was a child. My Dad wanted us to experience the outdoors. So I never complained.

In 1994, that summer, I was fifteen going on sixteen, I had my own red, two-person tent anyway. My own space. My younger brother was in the big tent with our parents still. During this time I was in my early years of learning to play guitar. I always had my cassette tape walkman and headphones with me. Even at the beach and while I walked around the campground. I was always walking, dancing and singing…and miming the guitar. A guitar I couldn’t bring camping.

It was during one of my walks that a girl, one year older than I, approached me. A tall and beautiful girl. Brunette. She was from Massachusetts, USA. Her name was Theresa. She was a year older than I was. We started chatting so much that we went to the nearby shelter of picnic tables. There we got to know what we were both into. We talked about music a lot and she even got me to write down what songs I knew on my guitar (which took a while). This girl really seemed to be interested in me. I still remember how she smile an looked right into my eyes when she talked to me.

For my entire family trip, Theresa and I were inseparable. My parents got to know her father, Rick, whom she was there with. She (and even her Dad) came with us to various beaches that summer almost daily. We had camping meals together too. Theresa and I became very close. The very first girl I ever became close with. We were two peas in a pod that summer. It was hard two weeks later when we had to say goodbye. Like being set with a prison sentence.

I never had many friends in my life. Very little true friends. I can count them on one hand to this day. Theresa was a great friend. I was fifteen and she was sixteen. I knew she had a boyfriend at home, but we were in our own little camping and beachside world together up there by the beach when we were together. I was very hard to say goodbye that year…

…skip ahead to one year later. The summer of 1995. Same place. My family is camping in the same campground…and Theresa and her Dad were also back again camping in the same place. Talk about happiness. I wish there was a home video of our smiles and hugs together after seeing each other once again when we both thought it would never happen.

I couldn’t believe Theresa was there again. I couldn’t believe it. We were inseparable again, strolling around the campground and hanging out at the beach and by the mountain river waterfall. My favorite waterfalls. The falls I want some of my ashes spread in some day. We talked and talked about music, movies, tv shows, and high school. She was a most special friend to me. We stuck together for our entire trip there once again. I even went on adventures with her and her Dad while my parents went elsewhere with my younger brother.

We said our goodbyes that August of 1995 thinking we would likely see each other again the next summer or speak on the phone. We did speak on the phone once, around Spring 1996 when I got permission to call her long distance into the USA. That was the final time we ever spoke to each other or had any contact.

We also never returned as a family to that same camping place or vacationed anywhere together again. Things changed for whatever reason as a family. I graduated high school and moved out the following year. My parents divorced seven years later. Yes. Things do change. I imagine things changed in Theresa’s life in many ways as well.

This all happened during many years before social media and Facebook…or even digital photography. I wish I had a picture of her and I together. I am sure we would have kept in touch on Facebook, if it had existed. We knew each other during the time when the internet was only in its baby steps. Barely in our schools. Letters in the mail or phone calls were how you communicated with someone as far apart as we were from each other at that time. Hard to believe.

I hope Theresa is doing very well these days. She likely is married with kids by now. I wish I could say the same. I imagine she has also thought about what happened to me from time to time. I am sure she wishes me well too.

I hope so. With things like this, a person can only remember and smile at the good times we had with that other person. She now only exists in my memories.

Very good and cherished memories. ♥

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Remembering Michael

15181694_801180620022931_2358942613352664409_nI originally wrote this for myself to deal with grief in March 2017.

This blog post has been months in the making for me. I didn’t even know what to write at first. On November 17th, 2016, my cousin Michael, passed away. He was only 37 years old. I was told about this two days later on a Saturday morning by my mother in the car when she picked me up from work after my night shift. I did not sleep that day…or even that weekend. I was absolutely devastated. More than any other family members could even know.

Michael was more than a cousin to me. He was my “second brother”. The best friend I ever had in life my life. Mike, as I always called him, was half a year younger than I. Our maternal grandmothers were sisters. So we were 3rd cousins officially. During seventh grade, in junior high school, bullying was really taking its toll on my mind and my body. I was literally losing my mind. I was suicidal. My parents pulled me out of school in the last few months for my survival. I was sneaked back into the school library in June to write my final exams. For eighth grade, I was transferred to another school an hour’s drive away where my mother taught grade three. This public school was for all grades up to grade nine. This is when Mike and I first became close.

Mike and I were in all the same classes. Since I lived an hour away and in another town, my Mom usually worked after school. I would go to Mike’s house after school. So Mike and I were together all day long at school and afterward. These were our “coming of age” years and we talked about everything that young men think about at that age. I had been bullied all my life, even to violent extremes, but Mike accepted me as I was. Like the brother he never had. We became inseparable during our junior high school years. We were basically Wayne and Garth, or Bill and Ted. You messed with me, you messed with Mike and vice versa. I have countless stories about Mike and I during these years that I could write a series of stories on the subject. I am sure I will share them over time right here.

I went on my first date together with Mike. It was a double date. Mike was dating a girl and he encouraged me to ask out this girl, Becca, who danced with me at the school dances and who I had a crush on. So all four of us ended up going to see the Charlie Sheen movie “The Chase” at the Air Force base theatre. My first date ever. I remember later on that night calling her on the phone after 9 pm while sitting on the stairs at Mike’s house to “officially” ask her to be my girlfriend. Sadly, her parents answered the phone and were freaked out over a boy calling their daughter that late at night. I guess they thought I was bad news. If they only knew the truth. Who knows what could’ve happened with her and I. I never saw her again other than in the hallways at school.

In 1992, I got my first electric guitar and seriously started to learn how to play. Taking lessons at the local music store. Each month Mike would either come stay at our house for a weekend or I would stay at his house in the basement. I would bring my electric flying-V guitar and mini-amp and I would teach him what I learned on guitar in the basement. He had his 12-string acoustic guitar. So many musical good times we had. I still privately play and sing all the weird and silly songs we wrote and sang together in that basement with our guitars. We both also got into martial arts. Other than mimicking Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Jean_Claude Van Damme movies, Mike and I took actual classes. I had taken Judo, boxing and Taekwondo classes. We would always be trying out new movies on each other, either in our front yards or in the basement. We’d still be doing this today I am sure. Friendly challenging each other. We were always having strength competitions with each other. I miss those days. Dearly. The last time I spoke to him on the phone, we still planned our little tests of strength and might between us. We so respected and admired one another still.

My family moved again and so Mike and I were in separate high schools. We visited each other for weekends all throughout high school.

Mike’s younger sister, Michelle, was (and obviously still is) only a year older than my own brother. I babysat her a few times while Mike worked at the local video store. I remember to this day taking her to see the movie “Batman Forever” in the summer of 1995. I thought of her as the little sister that I never had. I still do to this day. Mike and I had a deep conversation one time in 1998 that I will never forget. Something he brought up again in our last phone conversation. He asked me man to man to look out for his sister if anything was to ever happen to him one day. I promised him I would. I wish I was closer to his sister Michelle these days. I will NEVER break that promise I made to her brother. i know she is a grown woman now and even as of writing this, has someone in her life that I know is a good guy. Still…I will ALWAYS look out for her and want to protect her. Especially now with Mike gone. I will be there for her. Always.

Mike and I had not seen each other in over ten years. Though we talked on the phone. The last time we talked was about a year or so ago. We talked for at least 3 hours straight. Which is what usually happened when we were on the phone together. I wish I had that call recorded. You’d be able to tell how much we loved and thought of each other. We made plans. So many things we wanted to do together again. Things we talked about doing back while coming of age. These things still seemed so possible. Neither of us even thought possible that either of us would be gone anytime soon. Never seeing each other ever again…never came to either of our minds.

I had no idea that he was so sick. Fuck. Goddammit. Fuck. I guess he only wanted his sister and parents to know. I did get a Facebook message from him requesting my phone number again a year ago. I replied with my number. He never got around to calling me. I would’ve called him each day to be there for him. No matter any cost. It kills me each and every day wishing I could have been there for him. I wish I had known how sick he was. I cry almost every day wishing I had known. I know Mike was tough. He held me up during some of the hardest times of my life when I was younger. He would fight anything that came his way. He did his best. I know. I just wish I could have been there during his final days. To hug him and remind him how much he meant to me. What comforts me somewhat, is knowing Mike remembered and knew how I felt about him. I am sure of this. Knowing Mike, I do understand why he kept his illness private. I get it. I do respect his decision. No matter how much I wish I had that chance to say goodbye. I always will.

Now in full disclosure, I’ve fallen down and smashed my fists to the floor many times in recent months. Mike’s death has been devastating for me. Not to dare compare my pain with that of his parents or sister. I never could imagine. For me, with how close we were. As you’ve read. Especially with him being my age. My brother. My fucking TWIN in many ways. I’ve had grandparents die in recent years, but with Mike dying, it is like having an arm amputated. I’ve thought about suicide again. Truth. Full disclosure here. He was so much a part of my existence and my world. My future plans and world. As I mentioned before, I could go on and on with many stories of him and I growing up together.

Yes. I do love my own brother, Thomas. My one and only brother. Mike and I were the same age and basically grew up together as best friends but I am always here for my own brother. I love him very dearly. I mentioned suicide above just now so I know people reading this have it on their minds. I have tried to take my own life three times in the past. I have both mental and physical scars from each of these events. One time, I barely survived. Mike was the only person my age that I truly had on my side. When someone gets you…and truly accepts you…that is special. You fucked with me, you fucked with Mike. So many times he had my back with bullies. I will always love him for that so much. He ALWAYS had my back.

My goodness. I could go on and on about Mike. I am still upside-down without him around in many ways. Over the past few months. I have had many breakdowns. As I’ve already stated. Screaming for Mike to be alive. Wishing I could have done something to keep him here. Wishing I was there for him while he was sick. I’d have given my own life for his.

Losing Mike, for me, has been like living the movie “Stand By Me”. Mike was like Chris Chambers to me if I was Gordie LeChance in that movie. That movie holds so much more meaning to me now. The final words from the narrator of that movie state my truth:

“Although I hadn’t seen him in over ten years, I know I’ll miss him…forever.”

In the end, all I can do is remember him. I am now taking better care of my own health. Losing weight and working out. I want to do my best to live a longer and happier life and be a good man. For myself. For Mike and his family. I will always keep my promise to Mike and watch out for his younger sister and his Mom and Dad. Till my final day.

I love you, Mike. My brother. My best man.

Forever.

Still Here. Remembering. 

Sorry for the absence.  It has been a wild month with work and emotions. I’ve been a bit distant on social media and most of all here on this blog. I really do plan to post here regularly. 

On August 16th, it would have been my cousin Mike’s 38th birthday. He died last November. I was devastated even though I hadn’t seen him in person in over a decade. We did, however, talk on the phone at times in recent years for hours. 

Mike was private. Had his pride. Always wanted to appear strong no matter what. I had no idea he was seriously sick during his remaining months. His death has hung with me every day. 

I am working on a story tentatively entitled “Always”. Though it is fictitious, it has so many true memories of Mike and I written into the story. I hope to share it soon here. A story I just HAD to start sitting down to write. 

Thanks for reading. I will share more sooner than later.