My brother, Paul, was two and a half years older than me.
In 2004, at age 25, he fell fifteen meters out of a tree, actually survived the initial fall and was quite lucid.
His personal power brought an off-duty nurse to his aid.
As she cradled him in her arms, waiting for an ambulance, he held the small circle of people surrounding him in stitches, laughing at his wise-cracks.
By the time the ambulance got him to the hospital, though, he was not really conscious, screaming inanities. They took a CT scan as he went into a coma, on life-support.
Turns out he had a blood-clot the size of a golf ball in his brain – not sure of the technical term but there was nothing that could have been done really.
Add to that, he had hit a couple of big branches on his fall down so his intestines and insides were pretty mashed up.
After we were notified, Dad arrived first to the hospital in Sydney, really early the next morning. Mum and I got there a few hours later.
According to the Ancient sorcerers of Mexico, every person has a song that they’ve heard at a critical moment in their life, which plays to them when Death finally taps.
I knew that in the few transformative years preceding this moment, the album, “Pet Sounds,” was one Paul had connected with – partly because of the personal history of Brian Wilson.
In a moment of helplessness, I actually raced to the nearest music shop and bought the album as well as a set of headphones.
I got back to the hospital and let Paul ‘listen’ – however much that was possible – to the whole album right through. Afterward, I took the headphones off him and sang the most beautiful song from that album, “God Only Knows,” softly into his ear.
I wasn’t trying to bring him back. I was trying to send him off, like the Warrior I saw him to be.
We pulled the plug an hour or so after that.
What was Paul like as a person?
Without quite knowing it, I think, my friend, Ben, described Paul’s abstract purpose as well as anyone ever could have:
“Paul was a powerful man, there’s no doubt about it. But he was ultra-secretive. There was a fog around him. Nobody knew who he was or what he was going to do. We were all waiting for him to conquer the world or disappear into thin air or who knows what.”
At his funeral, Dad finished by saying,
“He was truly a child of the universe.”
As I began writing this post, I was a little sad.
Now, I have just added those last two quotes and I am filled with joy & admiration again for having known him.
He was my best friend, my hero. He knew me better than anyone.
When he died, even though we hadn’t seen each other for over a year, we didn’t have anything pending between us.
Quite the opposite – we had gone our separate paths with no foreseeable reason to socialise again.
Whenever I think of him, I have happy thoughts (usually about how ruthless & cunning he was). And it was like that right from the moment his awareness drifted off into the ether.
What was difficult for me was seeing my parents lose a child.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for them.
Sometimes I selfishly wonder how he would relate to me now. You never know how people and relationships can change over time.
A few years ago I was driving a taxi in Sydney, part-time. I connected with a passenger one night. He had Portuguese parents so when I began speaking Portuguese with him, he was pleasantly surprised.
Turns out his brother had died young as well. He summed up my general feelings succinctly:
“You go through the day pretending or portraying the idea that you are getting on with things but, really, you think about them every day.
You wonder whether they would approve of
what you are doing and becoming.”