This morning’s Pre-Caffeinated Wisdom:

The first thing I noticed when I logged on today, still fighting the first migraine I’ve had in months, was the little notification that it was my little brother’s birthday. So I hit his page, to find he’s posted a few lines from one of my favorite songs from my favorite band. Thus, through a fog of pain, sleep deprivation, an overbearing amount of things to accomplish today, and the nigh-irresistible urge to just give up and go back to bed, I’ll say a few things about the duality of existence. There’s the Good, the Bad, and the totally Sucky. Yesterday was a tough day for me, and though I know it was even tougher on others, it was both bitter and sweet.

The Daily Citizen rushed through an article for us and had it in yesterday’s paper on short notice, and I was pleased that it was well written and Honored both Jeremy and what we are trying to do in his name. Last night, some of us laughed, some of us cried, and some were just too young enough to understand what was going on. But for the first time, almost exactly a year and two hours later, we took a group to visit the spot Jeremy spent his last moments on this earth.

It was torture for me. It’s hard enough leaving the house on most days, moreso yesterday, and I fear today will be no different. We’re well into the memorial event, with cleanup and movie night happening tonight. Tomorrow’s the big day, and it will take everything I have and more to get up, get out, and do what I have to do. I have to do it myself. Even though others have stepped up and picked up parts of the responsibility I just haven’t been strong enough to carry, those I depend on the most are just as wounded as I am, and though it shows in different ways, having just as hard a time moving through it.

It’s been a year now. I’ve procrastinated long enough, and I’m finally doing what I said I would do. It will help a lot of kids, which will both establish Jeremy’s Legacy, as well as help me gain a sense of accomplishment, both by making a down payment on an unpayable debt, and simply doing something good for the sake of doing something good. We’re going to watch some movies tonight, throw each other around tomorrow, find a way for more kids to learn martial arts that otherwise wouldn’t be able to, and have some burgers.

But.

There is so much wrong with this picture. Wednesday night I went out at sundown for a fresh pack of smokes. There were no explosions in the sky. With my birthday so close, the 4th has always been MY holiday. Even though I haven’t actually bought fireworks in years, every year I enjoy going to the various shows, or just rolling down the road watching the sky light up in various directions. None of that this year. It was still, dark, and quiet. That’s not really the problem, it just sets the tone. It’s almost prophetic of the downfall of America. Half the posts I see are complaining about the administration, policies, desecration of the Constitution, and other political pissings. I’ve taken the most pessimistic stance possible, pretty much giving up hope on any redemption. Any computer tech can tell you that once your pc is so overrun with viruses and malware that it’s time to just wipe your hard drive and start over. While I do not advocate it, the only hope I see for any real change in this country is a similar wipe and restart, and I fear that both this heatwave/drought/or whatever, as well as the current situation will end in a rain of blood rather than water.

Yeah. Who is in a cheerful mood today?

But none of that really matters to me right now. I was quoted in the paper again yesterday. Yay. I’ve got several very possible ideas for now projects that could result in a comfortable living doing things I consider more fun than work. The Foundation is lifting off. I have hardcore, dedicated students that make me proud. My own children are finally taking an interest in following the family tradition of both Martial Arts and Motorcycles. I have so much to be happy about. But like I said, none of that really matters right now.

The only thing I can think of is this: My friend is gone.

Yeah, his spirit walks beside me. We had moments last night where I made the comment that he was laughing his @$$ off at me for some things that happened. Several pictures were taken where this mysterious light slashes across the image, hinting at the supernatural. I try to keep my mouth shut on politics, but usually fail. I really try to keep my mouth shut on religion. I’ll say this, though, there are two types of religious people: The Spiritually Religious, and the Dogmatically Religious. The former follows the message. The latter follows the rules. Sadly, the rules are often what they’ve been told, rather than what they actually are. As someone who has actually STUDIED religion, I’ve learned that a lot of what I was taught was blatantly WRONG. Dogma handed down to me by people who had it handed down to them. If you actually read the gospels, Christs’s message was a far cry from the Dogma that most people try to pass off as the Word. But that’s fodder for a whole different edition of PCW. Suffice to say, that the scripture supports the existence of the supernatural, and not all of it in a bad light. Those who have passed before us are not in Heaven. They are not in the Pit. They are still here, in Hell, waiting to be judged, just like the rest of us. Some spirits linger. I don’t put a lot of stock in psychics. A true psychic would hide their abilities for fear of ending up in a government lab or simply being burned at the stake. (Yes, it still happens.) But simply put, I’ve seen and experienced too much unexplainable $#!+ to not believe in ghosts. Just as I know my grandfather hovered over and guarded my daughter in her early years, just as I know the cats living in my house protect the dreams of myself an my family, I know the spirit can remain long after the body has passed.

I’m carrying on. But truth be told, I’ve spent the last year in denial, walking around numb. Not really accepting the facts. I sit on the porch and wait for him to show up. I turn and look every time I pass a truck that looks like the one he drove. My neighbors bought a pair of trucks nearly identical to the one he died in, and every time I walk around the house I stop, thinking he’s dropped by to visit. But then I remember. And then I hurt.

I’ve lost a lot of people in my life. When I was a child, one of my own instructors suddenly passed in an unexpected accident. Dennis Remy was one of my favorite Instructors. I was too young to understand it all, but I knew one day he was at class, and the next day he wasn’t. I know how my students feel. I’ve been there. I’m there again, just from a different perspective. When my Grandfather passed, I was sad, but he had lived a long and full life, and the pain of his last years was finally over. I miss him still, but I know he’s not in pain anymore. I remember when Jim died. We had a complicated friendship, sometimes like brothers, other times as bitter rivals, but when all the cards were laid out, he was my friend. He died young and unexpectedly, and at what was probably the best point in his life. His twin is still a close friend, but has never been the same. I’m happy for the fact that Jim went out on a high note, but that he went out so young and damaged so many others in doing so is tragic. I clearly remember his funeral. In The Crow, the villain, Top Dollar, made the statement, “Childhood’s over the moment you know you’re going to die.” One of the reasons I remember the funeral so clearly was because I was one of the pallbearers, and I remember that moment when I looked down at Jim as we were carrying him, and suddenly the bitter truth of mortality sank in. I’m rather good at hiding my emotions. Growing up in the solitary life as the only child of an only child, expressing my emotions never did much good. I can hold a stone faced expression and bury what I need to as deep as I need to. But in that moment, everything changed, and something inside of me broke. Even though I try to act as childish as possible to fight my aging and mortality, the truth is that my childhood ended that day. I remember helping baby brother through the loss of his best friend. Another loss that still haunts me. I only met him a handful of times, but those times made an impact on me. He was misunderstood, but a truly good kid, and one of the few that I could instantly get along with. I remember one of our first meetings when I gave him a ride home and we just chatted the whole way, and I was impressed with how intelligent and mature he was for his age, almost the exact opposite of the image that had been attached to him. I struggled with guilt for the longest time, because I knew if I’d been there when it happened, I could have saved him. This was silly and unrealistic, because the simple fact was that I had no reason whatsoever to be there that day. Still. Survivors guilt.

Wow. Getting even more cheerful, aren’t I? The point today was supposed to be duality. Bill’s death inspired his mom to help others. She took care of baby brother, and baby brother moved in with my family and we developed a strong bond. Jeremy’s death pushed me and others to carry out what he had always talked about doing, and in both cases, lives will be improved through the sacrifice of theirs. But that coin has two sides. Other lives have been diminished, even tormented at their loss. Some days we get up and use it as inspiration to do great things. Some days, we wallow in self pity and misery. Tomorrow is the big event that I hope will be the first of many to not only honor my friend, but help a lot of kids who need it and otherwise wouldn’t have it. But will I be able to fight through the pain and loss to do what I need to do? Even then, have I done enough to make it actually work, or will I fail him? I know the effort will honor him, but despite that, failure will dishonor him, and that is unacceptable.

It doesn’t really matter, though. None of it. My friend is gone. Yes, I have other friends, but not ones who understand me as well. Who have conquered the roadblocks of my life through the same means and methods. Who dealt with the daily tortures of our very existence through the same philosophy and technique. But again, the coin has two sides. I am stronger now, even on my weakest days. I am not alone in this. I have purpose, even more than before. As I said, tomorrow is the big day. Today I have to finish up the last touches, but as long as I can do that, what happens tomorrow will happen tomorrow. This PCW started because of a song. I find it very fitting, even though I clung to the darker side this morning. As for the rest of the day, tomorrow, and the tomorrows after that, should the come… “Winners and Losers, Which One Will I Be Today?”

— at Castle Grayskull (Zombie Plan HQ).

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