25 February 2010

Laughing 'Til It Hurts: The Lighter Side of Heart Trouble

It has been 6 months since my Big Bro passed away suddenly, last August. It took my breath away to face that realization, amazed and saddened that it seems like such a long time and no time at all. Six months and the brother-shaped void in my heart is nowhere near to filling up.

I think about him, in some way, nearly every day. It most often happens when I am listening to music. Recently I was shutting out the world with my iPod, headphones on and air guitar amped and ready to rock. As often happens, a song will come on and Big Bro is right behind it. This particular day it was "Sheer Heart Attack" by Queen. Not exactly what you would call 'easy listening' music, more like 'six-Mountain-Dews-and-a-head-full-of-teenage-angst' music. It's fast, it's aggressive and it kicks ass. In the context of my brother's death, it is also funny as hell.

Funny to us, anyway.

Big Bro most likely died of a massive heart attack. When I think about it, I'm not sure he could have gone very many other ways. His was a life and an attitude that invited the quick, the sudden dramatic event. Do I wish I could have said goodbye before he slipped away? Hell, yes. But he knew and I knew, deep down, he didn't want a long drawn out and ultimately futile fight. So perhaps it was better for him this way.

I also know this: his sense of humor was deep, sharp and wicked. He more than most people I have known could enjoy tremendously the bittersweet joy of rockin' out to a song named after 'what done 'im in'. And when I hear Freddie Mercury snarl "DoyaknowDoyaknowDoyaknow just how I feeel!", I can hear my my Big Bro saying "Yes...yes, I do."

(drum solo!)

Hey, heyheyhey, it was the DNA!
That made me this way!
Hey, heyheyhey...


  1. so good to keep remembering him. he sounds like he was ALIVE while he was alive. i'm sorry it hurts so much.

  2. Have you ever watched "My Sister's Keeper?" it's so heartbreaking, kinda chick flicky, so I wouldn't be surprised if you didnt. But the end of the movie, she says "I was brought into this world to save my sister. But that wasn't the point. The point was, I HAD a sister, and she was fantastic!". I think its safe to say this applies to brothers to, I'm sorry for your loss again, but I'm happy for the good memories you still hold.

  3. And perhaps now your brother and Freddie Mercury play in the same band!

  4. Nice remembrance, Irish...but what do you mean he most likely died of a heart attack...aren't you sure?

  5. Aww see ... it's thoughts like this and memories that fill up that brother sized hole!


  6. A lovely touching post Gumbo. It's Elvis songs that remind me of my big bro (he died at the age of 47 from lymph cancer), in particular 'Wooden Heart' because he was always singing that. Whenever I hear it now, it reminds me of all the fantastic seaside holidays we shared as children.

    It's early days for you but I hope that soon only smiles will replace the tears when you think of him.

  7. It's always surprising and special when our people visit us through music.
    Really great post.

  8. Ane liked pop songs- Hansons, 'Barbie World', and such that I almost barely stood the car rides on her 'radio' days, but now and then it creeps up to haunt me...like hearing Marc Anthony's 'I need to know' as we do the upper body back and forth 'stop light' car dance...tell me baby girl, cause I need to know...girl I am exactly where I need to be...but I want, need you to be here with me...

  9. Hey come over to TMI, something funny is waiting for you when you got a moment...plus I got another poem published Wednesday...

  10. Music is transportation isn't it?
    It always grabs me by the waist and takes me to where I should be going...
    My grandma's kitchen, the rez ( hangout spot of my teen years), or dancing with my daddy
    I lost my daddy in August of 2008
    believe it or not his favorite song was "Our House" by Madness
    I feel like saying now..Kasey, would you please play...

    Music transports us, binds us, heals us...
    Thank you for this, Irish
    Love you, man

    Peace ~ Rene

  11. My mother went quickly and very likely the same way your brother did, but she was like him in that her life was big, quick and dramatic. She wouldn't have wanted to linger, either.

    I'm glad you can and do remember him so fondly. The missing gets easier.


  12. I just love the musical connection which you continue to have with your brother Irish.
    Its something which can often be hard to explain, and which I don't think many get, but its something which means so much to some teenage boys well (forever!) into their life's!

    Mix a love of juicy riffs, stand out lyrics and a good sense of humour and your bro is gonna keep you laughing for years to come...and what could be more personal and more of an ongoing tribute than that?

    "This one goes up to eleven!"
    Ohh yeah!

  13. They say that the sense of smell is most closely tied in with memory, but I don't know about that. I say it's music.

  14. Music is communication and transportation, it is sublime in its imagery and raw emotion. The soundtrack to our lives.

    This was a perfect tribute.

  15. I'm glad you are thinking of him and honoring him. I'm sure he would have loved that. BTW: he's not the only Gumbo in the family with a sharp sense of humor.

  16. Aww. This is a great post. I'm so sorry you are in this stupid stupid grief place. Stupid heart problems. Stupid death. It's a good thing memory is such an amazing, visceral coping tool. With much love,

  17. I would rather go quickly and not have a lingering death. My father died suddenly in his sleep. A good way to go.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...