Patrick's Reading

Hello, this is Patrick, Brad's brother. The following is what I wrote to say at his memorial service. Please understand that it was written to say to the people attending, and to capitalize on the emotions and anxieties everyone was feeling. The anxiety of facing someone who might break down crying at any time, the tension of knowing you might break down and cry at any time, the frustration of being helpless and unable to turn back the clock... all of these extreme emotions could be used to show what Brad felt probably every day. My goal was, to put it bluntly, to show that Brad was not some worthless junkie. I understand why people would have this thought, and I certainly don't think less of anyone who felt this way. 

It was very difficult to balance what I wanted to say with what I thought I could get through without falling apart. I had to make my points with the shortest text possible. I had to hold back on explaining my stance and justifying my opinions. It was very important that I provide evidence to show that I wasn’t painting an unrealistic picture simply because Brad is gone. I wanted to scream, “You couldn’t handle being in Brad’s shoes, and most of us are not worthy!” I wanted everyone to know it was true.

I guess before I get to my reading, I will ramble like I would have done had it been appropriate and possible at the memorial... maybe you will see more clearly what my condensed reading was about.

In talking to Brad and Kris over the past couple of years, I have realized that we all shared similar anxieties and imbalances. It seems like we have all taken different routes to deal with them. I consider it luck and not strength that has gotten me through unscathed... the alcohol and drugs just don't work for me. Maybe, had I taken that route when I was younger and had less responsibility and much less concern for cause and effect, I would be in a different place right now.

I am extremely sad that Brad and I had an incredibly intimate conversation for our last talk. Brad actually called me for some advice, which just about made me cry with joy and relief. I wanted this type of relationship with Brad, but it was something that had to happen on its own, and here it was. Over almost two hours of talking, we had many revelations about similarities and parallels in our lives. I could tell we were making huge leaps, and Brad was just as astonished as I was. The very last thing floored him... he said he had to go, that he was getting tense and had to get off the phone, and didn't want to be rude. I said, "Feel like you are going to puke?" There was dead silence. Then he said, "How did you know that?" I said, "When my stores of socializing are used up, I feel panicky and like I am going to puke. But, I am bad and uncomfortable at extricating myself politely, which makes me more tense and prolongs the anxiety." He had never known someone to express exactly how he gets, much less feel it. I told him we didn't need to have a long goodbye, and that we would talk more. I swear, it sounded like a tearful cry of relief when he said, "Thank you... thanks." I am extremely sad because we connected and it should have been the start, yet it was the last time we talked. I am extremely happy though, because we had at least started the process.

Brad was certainly different than me in one way, and my last statements in the reading sum it up. While I have a genuine concern for mankind, even while hating most of it, it is a deep concern in two ways: It comes from the center of my heart, but it is buried deep. I do nothing about it. Brad, at the least, was outspoken. His bicycle has a sticker on it that says, “No war! No K.K.K! No Fascist U.S.A.!” Such a simple thing to do to wake people up. Brad also had the discipline to study Tai Chi... on his own! I can’t even get myself to go to classes, and I know the benefits to mind, body, and confidence that martial arts has. Although I don’t know Brad’s diet, I think he was a vegetarian. I saw a sticker or drawing in his apartment that essentially said animals are our friends, not our food. I feel that there is a food chain, and that there is nothing morally wrong with eating meat. However, I do have a problem with how animals are treated before we eat them – often they are tortured for years before being put out of their misery, and the poor conditions are all in the name of money. I don’t like this, but I do not do anything to make a statement, I do not boycott meat from places that are like this, and I don’t even try to find out what major places buy from them. Damn, I always thought that my anxieties and chemical imbalances and depression would not mix well with my concerns, so best to keep them quiet. Brad, with his life being much tougher than mine, still did something proactive. I am a worm.

Brad was a dad. Every time I talked to him, I was impressed with his care. Brad was zen-like in the way he described his interaction with his daughter, Emily. Through our mom, I heard many stories of his disappointment when he felt he had let her down. He recognized these things in himself. I heard stories of how hurt he would be when Emily was mad at him. I don’t feel I could handle being a father... when I talk, I expect to be listened to, and the little runts just can’t be trusted to do that! I’ve been told that you fall right into it when you become a father. OK. If you say so. Brad’s enthusiasm and care were heartwarming. Kate told a story about Brad becoming concerned about the environment after being completely uncaring. I see soooo many parents who claim to love their children, yet they don’t recycle and they don’t worry about consumption and they don’t consider the almost inescapeable crap that kids are exposed to both in diet and in society. How can you really care for your children if you don’t care for the future they will have to live in? I wonder if Emily was a big reason Brad came around and was proactive in certain issues. If so, he was a unique parent, and a better parent than any I have ever met. Emily, your dad loved you more than most parents... there is proof.

I don’t want to forget or hide Brad’s problems. Instead, I want to show the burden they were, which makes Brad’s strengths so much more amazing. I want everyone to empathize, not sympathize. By using the terrible emotions everyone must have felt at the memorial service, I wanted everyone to consider how hard it must have been to do positive things while weighed down like that. Enough. Here it is:

You don’t want to be here today.

It’s hard.

Some people didn’t come today because they couldn’t handle it. But, we can all understand the depth of emotion and anxiety that crippled them.

We have felt that tightness in our stomachs today. We have felt that lump in our throats.

Imagine feeling this way every day. Imagine it stems from social anxieties.

You can’t escape it. 

What would you have done if someone offered a “fix?” I’m not going to blame a child for taking it.

The problem was covered, but an addiction was the price.

Brad got older. Brad got wiser. He had responsibilities. He knew what he was doing. He wanted to stop. He couldn’t.

Imagine, when trying to quit this thing, you not only get back today’s lump in your throat, but you get withdrawal symptoms as well.

That isn’t all.

Have a very clear picture of the ugly world around you. The stupid, inconsiderate, even deliberate things people do to each other.

The greed.

Pull your head out of the sand and care. 

Brad did. 

Brad cared, and the burdens of lonley idealism are depression and frustration.

Add depression and frustration to withdrawal symptoms and today’s lump in your throat.

Don’t you DARE think Brad was weak.

Brad faced things that you and I ignore. Brad made hard choices and maintained changes in his life to fight things we should all be fighting.

I am a confident, proud man, but, if you ask me, the world needs Brad more than the world needs me.

I am not wearing rose-colored glasses when I say I’m proud of my brother.