Jake Update: 5:00 p.m. 3/22/16
No update. He’s not waking up. I wish I could say he was in any perceptible way waking up… but he’s not. The heartbreak of our situation has kept me from updating as much as I was before the end of last week. I know you all wish he would wake up and it breaks my heart to tell you otherwise every day. Together we wait and hope and pray and beg that he will. So instead of throwing out numbers and meaningless blood to oxygen ratios I’m just writing from the heart about Jake, specifically about memories. Bear with me as I’m no writer, but I don’t know what else to do. It’s all I have 3000 miles away from him and my family. Read it or don’t read it. If you do and you have some words of wisdom from your own experiences please let me know. Tell me your story.
Today I was sitting and suddenly daydreaming of Jake. Daydreaming of Jake happens a lot now. Our childhood rushing past in glimpses, snapshots, smells, tastes and sounds of innocuous moments, trips, holidays and words whispered in childish voices. Seemingly random moments of our childhood imaginations intertwining, others of shared boredom, some meaningless memories and others full of feelings and strong emotions come flashing through my mind without preparation or by my own free will as if they are fed to my subconscious from some otherworldly memory dimension. Things I haven’t thought about in years and in some cases decades take me back to those moments. My brain seems to be remembering then as opposed to now. Why I don’t know but for that I thank it.
I was thinking of him and I remember his questions when he was a kid, his answers to my questions as adults, his laugh on the phone, his eyes in person and the life in his smile. Playing catch or Kick-The-Can with neighbor kids on warm summer mosquito filled nights in Minnesota. I remember him and wish desperately that this wasn’t the end of those memories. I wish desperately that someday I will sit and think of Jake, our lives, our children, grandchildren, a million more new memories and those new memories will fill the empty painful places in my heart that exist now. To hear his laugh again, to listen to his voice again, even on the phone, but in a much older grumpy grandpa voice and seeing him with much older eyes, 100 years from now is all I wish for. That’s not too much to ask for is it? I think it might be.
But then I feel selfish. Things I wish for now, to talk to him again for example, they are for me. Those old memories are mine and his but what makes me feel the most selfish is that they will only be from my perspective should the worst happen. Snapshots, sounds and smells from only my eyes and ears and nose. When Jake and I discussed those old memories they were from his perspective too. We relived them together and they were real somewhere between his memory and mine. Two smoky wisps of recollection intertwining and blending together to make a single memory we both held onto, against our hearts.
The way he remembers events and the way I remember events are in two, sometimes vastly different ways. That is why I feel selfish, because I cannot see them from his eyes unless he is there to share them with me, his version of things. Why should that be? Why must it be that way? Where do those memories go to when it’s just my version, when it’s just my side of the story? How unfair it will be to have to share my memories of Jake with others from just my side when his side is just as real, just as tangible as mine, although vastly different in some cases? Where will that go? What happens to THAT reality?
When I was in Florida a few weeks ago my parents and I were discussing stories from the past and remembering Jake in all his sometimes awkward glory. In one of those stories I was home in the summer with Jake. He was in kindergarten, me in the 5th or 6th grade maybe. He’d asked me why people sneeze. I told him because we get stuff in our nose and we sneeze to get it out. It led to showing him an example and I put some pepper on the table for an experiment. He sniffed some of it up and started sneezing and couldn’t stop. He sneezed for about 30 minutes or so and he was crying because he thought he’d never stop. I thought my parents would kill me should he continue to sneeze forever. Jake’s version, as told by him to our parents’ years later, was that I had been putting pepper in his hair and that he was upset at the time because of only that. Upset simply because I put pepper in his hair? No recollection of the question of where sneezes come from or the experiment or any of the uncontrollable sneezing for that matter. A memory we both share, albeit different versions, it stayed with both of us but for vastly different reasons. A memory I don’t think we ever shared with each other.
Whose version was right? I don’t know. I think mine was but his was so vastly different… maybe his? Who am I to say he’s wrong? My point is, why does one of us have to be wrong? Maybe we were both right? Maybe we were both wrong? If the worst should happen and we lose the ability to share any of those memories together… not only will he die, but the version of me that he saw and smelled and heard dies too. A small piece of what makes me… me, dies. Forever lost. Cast out into the ether never to be seen again. Memories that are never to intertwine again, gone forever. I want to talk to him about that damn pepper story.
The feeling of my own selfishness on this is unbearable. The person I am is directly related to the version of me that he helped create. The Me in his eyes is the Me he created through memories both shared and unshared. Without my little brother to share the memories with me… that version is gone forever and I love that version. I want nothing more than to BE that version of me. To be the man he loved and the brother he deserved. The selfishness I feel is the worst thing I’ve ever felt.
To speak of our childhood, our lives, kids, and fun stories from the past will be just from my version, not OUR version. Without his versions are these stories somehow less important because they are only told to others and not remembered by him and me together? Are they going to be somehow less real, somehow less tangible? Somehow less reliable? It makes me feel so god damn selfish to think that without him, without the part of me that will die if he does, that without his side of the stories that these memories, these snapshots and smells and sounds will be less colorful. That these memories will be covered with a fog around them, with some of the color washed out like a beautiful forest seen only once on a cloudy day. That without him there to share the memory with, my memories are simply less real.
What does that make me? Without him in my life I would not be… me. It’s the stories, the memories, the smells and tastes and sounds with him there by my side that made me who I am and without this wonderful man, this wonderful kid and amazing little brother I am somehow less. My color is duller, my happiness is weaker. My own memory of the past is less reliable. I feel so damn selfish.
Maybe this will go away. Maybe with time the pain and anger and sadness will congeal into nothing more than a distant memory. A memory I can share with no one. A memory of him and I alone in his hospital room. Me asking him to wake up. Me telling him I love him. Me telling him he was everything I wanted to be and never could. But without him to laugh at me and tell me to shut up, get over myself and move on… then did it really happen? I want his version. I need his version.
Please Jake just wake up. I want a million more memories with you. I don’t give a shit if it’s for selfish reasons. I just want you to tell my why the hell you cried when I put pepper in your hair and why the hell you remember it at all and especially THAT way? What am I getting wrong? Tell me. Just get the fuck up and tell me.