It has taken me nearly a year to deal with the suicide of my play little brother Matteo.
I felt like shit when I first learned, nearly a year ago. In fact, I just laid on the floor and cried. When I saw that I had a phone call from a 510 number late on a Sunday night, I knew something was wrong; no one calls me from home that late unless something is wrong.
The day after I learned he passed, I still taught my class, but I mentioned to my students that someone close to me died, someone who was around their age.
Then I went to Ben’s with Jerm the Perm to eat wings. #NOTtheappropriatewayofdealingwithaDeath.
It really felt like shit to be there for my students, but not be able to be there for someone that I consider to be family, and I’ve held on to that until I went to Oakland three weeks ago and formally grieved his death.
You see, Matteo and I were close because I baby-sat him when I was in high school. When I say baby-sat I mean, 8 hours on Saturday, and 8 hours on Sunday. 16 hours per weekend for most of high school.
I had just spoken to Matteo last August right before comps, just to catch up. I am glad that I was insistent about making a point to meet speak to him and find out how school and work was going. I remember sending him a few text messages in order to set up a time. Normally, that process annoys me, but I did it, it felt right.
What was useful about grieving the loss of him in Oakland, is that I finally came to understand that he was in so much pain, and was ready to go then there was nothing that I could do about it, unless he wanted help. At the same time, I wish, if he were in that much pain, that he would have reached out to me.
So, while I was in Oakland, I made a short movie and walked around his/our old neighborhood. It was then that I felt better. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again. But there was something cathartic about walking around the neighborhood and remember which street to avoid because they had two pit bulls in the yard and which house had the great garden tended by the Vietnamese grand mother.
After I made the video, I walked down to the Farmers Market and I saw someone who looked just like him, tall, White, early twenties, box jaw, I almost jumped out of my fucking skin. But I suspect that that is simply apart of the process. I just bought some fancy pesto and kept on walking.
Have you ever dealt with the loss of a loved one?
What was your process?