Let me start by saying, please no sympathy, no internet hugs or pity.
For the last few days, I’ve been in the process of losing someone I love. He has been unplugged and we’re literally in the process of waiting for the body to quit fighting.
There wasn’t a car accident. He’s not old. He’s not the healthiest guy in the room, but he didn’t have a terminal illness either. His brain just decided to bleed. And the blood thinners he took for his heart made the situation critical and now…he’s not in there anymore.
It’s times like these that we re-evaluate ourselves, our relationships, and what truly matters. I woke thinking about non-romantic love. I absolutely loved this man. We are cousins and while I’m not exactly close with the majority of my family, I always had a sort of hero-worship with this man. I never had an inappropriate Jerry Lee Lewis kind of feelings for him, but it wouldn’t have mattered if I did, because he was gay anyway.
Discovering you were gay in the 80s was not a pleasant thing. He moved to the other end of the US to a more friendly (for him) place for many years. It killed me. My mom would let me call him once in a while and when he was home for a visit, I wouldn’t let up until I got to see him. As an adult, I drove my kids to Disney and we stayed with him. My kids fell in love with him immediately and when he moved back to Indiana, I was elated.
I was also the only member of my ENORMOUS family to take him to a gay bar, but that’s a story for another time.
Then I discovered he moved back out of necessity and it just broke my heart.
But I sit here thinking about what it was that made me adore him so very much. Why the hero-worship? Why the need to have a close relationship with a cousin when I keep my extended family at arm’s length?
When I was young, before he decided to move and come out to the family, he had the most beautiful girlfriends. Model quality looks. When my parents told me he was gay, I wasn’t surprised. I think I was like 9 or 10 years old at the time, but I called down to Florida and told him I didn’t care. I also cussed to the first family member for the first time when I told him not to give a shit what some of the family had to say. I loved him and asked if he had a boyfriend. He cried and handed the phone to his boyfriend. Said boyfriend and I had an awkward 30 second exchange.
He had been my babysitter and even chose to hang out with me and take me on his paper route when I didn’t need a sitter. He played the Led Zeppelin album backward to see if it would scare me. I think he was disappointed when I asked him to do the same with Dad’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album.
He loved animals, dogs specifically, and has a rescued German Shepherd who, in return, tried to save his life. She’s not taking this well either.
He was a great cook, though you’d better like spice and heat.
When I divorced the lawyer, I received a home that was about to be condemned as part of my settlement. I had to gut the place by myself. He came to my rescue, working through the pain of a badly needed hip replacement to give me and my children a nice home. He received a brown recluse bite for his troubles.
Last year, when my husband got laid off, he sent two bags of groceries over with my mother with strict instructs for us not to know who it came from. (Mother doesn’t take instruction well.)
He and my second husband hit it off and he’s remained my husband’s favorite family member outside of my parents. We’ve tried to spend time with him over the last few years, but due to the pain he’s been in from bad hips and a bad back, the pain meds and his affinity for Carona have kind of kept the visits to a minimum. So I’ve been missing him before all of this happened.
This man had been mistreated by the world. So-called friends had robbed him blind over and over again. His body caused him horrible pain, pain most of us have never felt. But he gave…constantly. Was he flawed? Who the fuck isn’t? But above all else, he loved others more than he cared for himself. He gave more than he ever took. How could I not love this man?
And how do I put a man like him in a novel and make it believable? It wouldn’t work. No one is this selfless. Well, not anymore. The world just lost the most self-less man I know.
RIP Ron. See you on the flipside.