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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Requiem for a Tortured Soul



He took his first breath just three days before I did. He took his last breath a few weeks ago, lying broken at curbside, bleeding, just a shattered body laid to waste in the dead of night with only a crumpled bicycle for company. My cousin had breathed his last...and left me choking, gasping and blinded by grief.

If the talents we possess at birth are simply promise...mere seeds for a life to come...well...his fell on stone.

I suppose it is fitting to find oneself composing a eulogy through hot, acid tears. My cousin, my sweet cousin, deserves to be eulogized, not for his accomplishments (which were precious, though few), but for his heart and soul which were most worthy.

I’ve found it difficult to find the words. I wake in the middle of the night, restless, searching and yearning for words and solace and comprehension. My cousin’s death affected me more than I can express, for we were brothers, he and I. We grew up together.
His death permeates my very marrow.

His was a sweet soul. When I was but three, my family joined his in a tenement two-flat mere spitting distance from the Chicago stockyards where immigrants such as we slaughtered living things by the thousands. He and I smelled the same smells, were soiled by the same urban grime as we played in impoverished dirt. He was the brother
I would never have and I was his faithful companion.

My cousin struggled...while I did not. He was not born to be an academic. Schoolwork interested him not a whit. I was the teachers’ pet...the “Straight-A” pupil who filled his teachers with pride and awe of their own success. My cousin? He doodled and he drew. He spent his time in school drawing amazing things. He never cracked open a book, nor memorized his multiplication tables or remembered the names of the early explorers, the continents they discovered and the history they made. He was a scholastic reprobate, but he limned figures and dreams faster and better than I could ever hope or imagine. He envied me my talents (for memory tricks came easily to me), and all the while, I dreamed and ached to draw as capably and creatively as he.

I wanted to inhabit the world he depicted. I envied his talent, his genius and his passion...his naïve goodness. And I learned that the world loves the scholastically minded, and scorns those who merely draw, paint and create. The world smiled upon me...while the seeds of his talents withered on stone.

He was my cousin, my brother, my friend and my idol. I suffered to watch him descend into madness. Forsaken...ignored...dismissed and reviled...he turned to drugs and drink. I was witness to his forays into hell, the sojourns of a loving soul whom no one loved. I was there the night he ingested too much peyote, so much alcohol and LSD that his mind dissolved to a state I could neither recognize nor fathom. He was institutionalized shortly thereafter. Locked within an asylum where he wailed and trembled, irrevocably lost and overwhelmed in the wake of hallucinations that had no end, he suffered.

He suffered more than any soul should.

My cousin failed many. That is the truth. But he loved more than most, with a heart as open and searching and hopeful as any heart could ever hope to be.

He took his first breath just three days before I did. And with his last breath...well...something broke inside of me.

* * *

15 Comments:

Blogger someGirl said...

No words Jonas, no words.

I am so sorry.

Fri Jul 25, 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Charmed said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Sat Jul 26, 06:42:00 AM  
Blogger anna said...

Another who is speechless here, other than to say I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you.

Sat Jul 26, 04:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you, someGirl. Words aren't necessary. Sometimes (most times) it's enough simply to know that others understand.

Thank you, Ms. Charmed and thank you, Anna. Really and truly.

Sun Jul 27, 10:26:00 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

They all go, so yeah.... I understand.

Sun Jul 27, 11:32:00 PM  
OpenID bernice92 said...

Oh Jon, I'm so sorry. Somehow the difficult, frustrating relationships can be the hardest to lose. "Cousin" hardly seems to do justice to the closeness you two had, and my prayers are with you as you grieve for what seems like a big part of your very self. Peace, friend.

Mon Jul 28, 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger rebecca said...

i'm so very sorry to hear of your loss... it seems, however, that despite a much tragic life, he had the comfort of you.

best,
rebecca

Mon Jul 28, 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

I'm sorry for your loss Jonas. It sounds like he had some great triumphs as well as tradegies. As we all do.

Mon Jul 28, 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Gigi said...

I'm so sorry, Jonas. Love is the greatest gift...

Tue Jul 29, 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Brenda Starr said...

oh jonas, your pain and love piercing my soul right now. what a cruel world we live in. this is why i belive there has/must be something beyond this. if not, what this is...would be maddening.
So, so, sorry, friend.

Wed Jul 30, 01:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well eulogised. Jonas my sympathies are with you. You are a great person to remember your "brother" so well.

Stihl

Thu Jul 31, 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger Jonas said...

Thank you Scott, Bernice, Rebecca, Jay, Gigi, Brenda and Man of Steel...

your consolations are much appreciated. My cousin earned my love and admiration...and, now, my grief.

Fri Aug 01, 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger shadowlands6822 said...

Dear Jonas,
I too have cousins that are like brothers. A few Sundays ago at church during the service, I was not emotionally prepared to hear a wonderful song that was played at my husband's memorial.
As the tears came and my heart grieved for my husband, my cousin, Larry, quietly came to where I was sitting and sat down and put his arm around me. I laid my head on his shoulder as he let me cry and grieve. He was there to comfort my hurting heart.
Yes, my cousins are my brothers and I have many. Like you, I would mourn their passing and I would feel a great emptiness.
I am so sorry for your pain and your great loss...

Sat Aug 02, 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Please forgive my lack of visits of late...I mourn for you the loss of your brother of the heart. You were blessed with a love that so few recognize. May his soul now find some peace~ {{{U}}}

Sat Aug 02, 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Starrla said...

Wow, Jonas. I am sorry. Although it is not much, tonight I will run in honor of you and your beloved cousin. Take care.

Thu Aug 28, 06:54:00 PM  

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