What many people don’t realize is that when you lose someone it affects every single part of your life. And this was especially true for Jay.
He had been so close to his father. Always the golden boy, he used to go fishing and hiking and the pair could always be found on the back porch, talking about the future and the way that life could turn out.
Neither of them could ever have imagined that this would happen, that Jay and Ved would be without a father.
Jay found that the only way he could deal with his pain was to internalize it and he tried to carry on as usual, only allowing himself to cry at night when no-one could hear him. Or so he thought.
Ved’s bedroom was on the other side of the wall from where Jay lay his head and Ved could hear his older brother sobbing way into the night. Ved went to his brother at first, wanting to share the pain and talk about it all. But Jay turned his head in shame and refused to even acknowledge that there was a problem.
Ved had no choice but to start to internalize his own feelings – he had nobody to talk to about it and soon found that if he surrounded himself with things to do, people to see, places to go that his mind could block out what had happened, the pain that had torn his heart to pieces.
Ved started to stay away from home and this caused more friction in the home. Jay would get angry with Ved, how could he do this to their mother when she had enough to worry about? Now she had to stay up at night and wait for her youngest son to come home. At times she had to wait all night as Ved stayed out longer and longer, getting into more and more trouble.
Whenever Jay tried to tackle Ved about his behaviour he would get a look of disgust thrown back at him. What did Jay know anyway? Always the goodie goodie, always at home to wash up the dishes for Mom. Never putting a foot wrong.
Jay couldn’t stand the way his brother was behaving and nor could Annie.
She too had gone into herself and was literally half the woman she had once been. The eyes that had shone so brightly with good humour at one time were now dulled with the pain of loss. And not only the loss of a husband but of a son that she had no control over.
Ved developed a friendship with the guy the brothers had met at the hospital, Mega and started to hang out with him whenever Mega could get away from the small apartment he shared with his father.
Jay spent more and more time with his girlfriend and their relationship started to flourish. Jay found that he could open up to her and after the initial shame at crying in front of anyone else he discovered that with Rochelle he really could let it all go and that it was safe to do so, that someone actually understood him. She understood because she had just lost her own parents in a plane crash when she was younger and was lived with her older married sister.
Jay and Rochelle gave each other the comfort and support that both needed and they became closer and closer with each day that passed each tear that was shed.
Ved meanwhile was becoming ever more distant from the family and was getting into all sorts of trouble with the neighbours, the school and the police.
Annie grew tired of asking Ved where he had been, of talking to the police that brought him home time after time and she all but gave up on this wild child of hers. But she would always wait by the window to make sure that he got home safely at night.
One night Ved came home earlier than usual and was surprised to find that there was no one waiting for him. His ego slightly wounded he popped his head round Annie’s door to make some smart comment about her not caring any more. And he found her lying in bed, her face ashen, her mouth blistered and her eyes swollen shut. Raspy breaths escaped from between her black lips and when Ved felt for a pulse he could barely feel one at all.
Screaming for his brother, Ved found that he was all-alone in the house with his mother and as he found the phone and called an ambulance he reverted back to being a frightened young boy again.
No longer able to ignore his grief. He was staring at it in the face again and was stung by the intense pain that it brought back to him. After having swallowed the sorrow he felt over the death of his father he suddenly felt it all rising back to the surface once more. When the ambulance arrived and the officers took his mother’s pulse and pronounced her dead, Ved could not contain his grief any longer and was taken to hospital himself for sedation.
Jay was tracked down and called to the hospital. He was shown to a side ward where he found his young brother lying in the fetal position and crying silent tears. Jay couldn’t control his own sorrow at the sight of his brother, so small and alone in the big white room. He climbed on to the bed and held Ved tightly, their tears flowing together in the grief that reunited them once again.
Jay and Ved grew used to being alone in the big old house. For a while there they had visits from their auntie’s but soon the Virus grabbed a hold of them too and took them to the grave.
More and more adults were dying and the world was a dangerous place. Everything was changing so quickly. Gangs were out in force in the streets and it was fast becoming a dog eat dog world.
Ved and Jay joined a gang of guys, led by a slightly strange kid in a wheelchair and this ‘tribe’ gave the brothers some kind of focus, something to cling on to in this place where you weren’t safe unless you had a gang to back you up.
Jay and Rochelle slowly drifted apart and when she was sent away to live with some relatives in the countryside, Jay was secretly glad. Since his mother had died Jay felt it impossible to deal with other people and their pain. His own pain was so deep that he didn’t feel that he could share it with anyone other than the one person who understood him – his brother.
He grew sick of Rochelle telling him that she knew how he felt, that she had been there, that it would get better. What did she know of his pain? She had grown up not knowing her parents. But he had known both his parents. Had laughed with them, cried with them… how could Rochelle even relate her pain to his?
Jay’s feelings soon changed when the train that she was travelling in crashed and all passengers were killed in an instant.
He couldn’t live with the guilt that haunted him, how he had turned away from Rochele and ignored the help, love and support that she had so freely given him. He wanted to die. He couldn’t live with any more pain. But then he looked at his brother and realised that he was all Ved had. And that Ved needed him.
This realisation brought Jay even closer to his brother and he swore that he would always be there for Ved, through thick and thin until the end of their days.
Whenever that might be…