The past six years since The Wired Man came out have been filled with exciting and wonderful events in my life. My birth of my two daughters, changing jobs three times, moving across the country then moving back.
There have also been hard times. My cousin's and then a childhood friend's suicide, both my wife's grandfather and my own grandfather's death.
Four deaths in six years. One funeral I couldn't attend, another I wasn't notified about, one I had to refuse carrying a casket, and then there was my cousin.
My cousin was a talented soul, someone who when you talked to them you knew she cared. She was intelligent, and talented, and funny. When I was a child, she was my best friend, the big sister I never had.
And mental illness took her all the same.
A few people in my life can claim that they saved me. My wife, my daughters, my mother. And my cousin. I didn't grow up in a great home. Fear was a pretty regular visitor. Screaming, blaming, irregular waves of terror of what you're going to do next.
As a little boy, I needed someone to look to. My cousin was that person. Five years older, she knew the world, what to do, how to do it, and why we were doing it. For a brief period from first grade to fourth she was my lighthouse. I don't know if I'd be here today without her. She punched through the veil and gave me a small ledge to hang onto. She also shared a birthday, Feb 3rd, with another important person in my life.
For those who don't know me personally on May 25th 2010, my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. A minivan cut in front of him at a stoplight and he died at the scene.
As most devastating things are, this one was clean, quick, and utterly fucking destructive. One second I was cooking dinner, the next I was lying on the floor wailing.
He was an amazing person. I miss him. I miss my cousin. This book started as an idea and ended a struggle. Not between me and my unreasonably high expectations (though that does happen), but between me and the dead.
Anger. At the driver, at my brother for insisting on buying that fucking bike, at the universe for giving my cousin, a person so amazing, something so horrible.
Sadness. A dark gulf widening every year. They'll never meet my kids, they'll never grow old with me. There are no parades with our kids, no Christmas phone calls, no impromptu dinners. Just a pit.
I'll never be whole again. I know it's cliche, but there's a vein of truth in most cliches. They're our shared experiences put into words. Great methods of expression that everyone can identify with.
So yes, I will never be whole again. Yes, you can be sorry for my loss. Yes, this book was about seeking a new normal, and yes, my life has gone on.
It's that last one, that final hurdle, that was so hard for me pass. I wanted time to stop. To always remember my life with them. To hear their voices, to remember the last day we spent in cinema clarity.
But that's not life. That's not what happens. I may have stopped, but the world kept turning. It kept spinning until I was a homesick time traveler, trapped on the kitchen floor wailing on a night that I could never escape.
I tried to pretend that I didn’t need them, that my life would go on, that I could do this, that I was strong. I remember sitting at the funeral dinner after carrying my brother's casket. It felt like the world was alive with color and sound and love, that I was done with that horrible week and I could move on.
But I was wrong. There were no brakes on this train. No pills to numb the pain.
For three years I filled that hole with chronic pain. A mystery agony that filled my pelvic muscles day and night with fire. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I couldn't breathe without excruciating pain.
Then came my first daughter. The pain magically disappeared, the hole paved over with new love. We named her after my brother and I still see his face in her warm smile.
But the hole was still there.
Another daughter, advancements in my career, a home, a loving wife, a published book.
But the hole continued. Got deeper. Demanded more.
I wish there was a happy ending to this. I wish could explain how I overcame and conquered all this. How my next book is a non-fiction book on how to kick ass.
It's not. It's simply my attempt to pat the dirt again, smooth the plot, plant the flowers, cry the tears, and walk away.
So on Feb. 3rd, 2020 I will be releasing my novel, Loaded with Black Magic, for a beta read. There's no profound importance, no greater wisdom contained within.
Just a sharing, a communion of feelings, of emotions that tie us together on this lonely dirt-ball tearing through space.
If you have the time, you're invited to have a read. Let me know what you think.