My dearest Jerry, my favourite, my only brother,
Well, today marks the 10th anniversary of you leaving us. Incredible to believe it’s been a whole decade since we’ve seen your face, heard your voice, shared a joke and heard you laugh, talked about music or films or books or politics together. Ten year since seeing your freckly face, your big hands or come home to see you in the kitchen with a mug of tea or gone up to wake you and seen your big bony feet sticking out of the end of the bed. 10 years have past in the blink of an eye..
So much has happened with us, with the world, with everything and you’ve missed it. We’ve missed you..so much.
As that guy said in one of your favourite films Princess Bride- ‘inconceivable’
Where are you? Why aren’t you here? This is where you belong.
It has been 10 years to adjust to life without you. On this day 10 years ago, when I opened the door to the policeman and police woman, I had no idea that would be my last few moments of peace and normality before the world around us dissolved. I just thought they were there to take some details as mum had reported you missing and went off to put the kettle on. As soon as I heard the screams and cries from the other room, that was the moment everything shattered. I would have bolted the door if I’d known the devastation that was to follow.
It was truly a nightmare, Jerry. Everything you know to be real can suddenly just turn paper-thin and blow away right before your eyes… I remember seeing Esther walk down the road from the front window, her head bobbing over the hedge and thinking to myself ‘she doesn’t know’ envying her innocence, wishing there was a way to keep her from being part of the heartbreak.
I would have done anything to stop what happened to you, we all would. Your big sister couldn’t look out for you. I am so sorry I couldn’t help you.
And you died. None of us could prevent it. You were taken away in a horrific and cruel way. And we have had to make sense of it ever since.
Life has an annoying habit of just carrying on and has taken us with it..
And we’re doing ok.. We’re still here
But there’s this massive Jerry sized hole in our lives, and on days like today it seems cavernous. Each anniversary takes you further away, numbs the pain a touch more. And yet this one makes you feel very very close, and brings it all back as if it was just last week.
You left us back in 2003, it seems so strange. Another time.. We’re all older now; your friends have all progressed through their lives, got jobs, got married, had children.. All the things you should have been doing. I wonder what you would be up to now. Would you still be living in Paris, what you would have done with your life.. Would you have a job writing or teaching? What you would make of the state of the world? Still protesting for peace and equality and justice. Still dancing, still being an idealist, a romantic and following your dreams. I’m sure you would be living to the full and making everyone laugh in the meantime.
Things have changed so much and you have no idea. All the music that you’ll never hear, all the films you’ll never see, all the birthdays and parties and joy and sadness, good times and bad times that you’re not around for. The dog walks, the cups of tea with granny, family meals together, christmas presents, new years parties, hanging out in Soho, laughing at childhood memories, the seasons changing and changing and changing, spring into summer, into autumn into winter into spring. Granny’s garden like it’s own evolving cycle of life to mark the time. It was so strange that you died in the spring, just as the would was bursting into life, colour and blossom everywhere- it was like nature was shouting at us with every glorious radiant raucous outburst into our dark days of grieving ‘but look what’s here -look how amazing this is- look look look!’ And on the day of the funeral, there was every kind of weather-snow,rain, blue skies and sun.. It was bizarre.. everything turning out to say goodbye.
Where was I? oh yes..
Everything moves on. So what else is new in 2013.. well, everyone spends all their time gazing into mobilephones constantly, we all have cameras, on our phones and take pictures of every little thing. There are a million pictures of your lifetime now. Every crazy day, every weird thing you see..every meal you eat! Seriously that’s what people do- life is there for documenting to see if anyone else cares….I wish I had more pictures of you.
Facebook, you never knew about facebook- how you could connect with all your friends that you ever met, from your long forgotten best friend at primary school to some random you met in the bar last week. I bet you’da loved it, probably have hundreds of friends and be constantly sharing music videos or getting everyone to sign some online petition.
And East London is the place where all the cool people go, what I wouldn’t give to be able to go out dancing with you again.. Digital radio, being able to record telly without needing video..ipods being able to keep 1000 of songs on you in a tiny doodah. No more mix tapes. That is a bad thing- I love the tape you made for me, it’s one of my most treasured possessions along with with your notebooks with your arty wobbly handwriting. Skype! ha, skype is amazing- you can talk to people on the other side of the world through the computer screen. All this stuff Jerry.. you see?! The world is a wonderful place, you were right.
And you did have a good life, Jerry I was so proud of you. I wish I could have told you how much I loved you. I didn’t even speak to you that last time you phoned up at dad’s birthday party, the surprise one that you were meant to come home for. I wish you’d come home.
We went out last Friday for dad’s birthday. Just the 4 of us, we went for a meal to the hotel where he and Judith got married.. YES! They finally got married in 2007, it was one of the best days ever. There was so much joy, and Esther gave the funniest speech, talking about stick game! Honey and Rupert even made an appearance. We missed you, of course. I hope you were there somehow. Anyway, dad never really does much for his birthday anymore but this was special. The funny thing was at the table behind us was a family with 4 children, the dad and eldest boy came in late, he must have been picked up from boarding school as they were all so pleased to see him. He was about 10/11 and looked rather like you, pale with brown hair and freckly. When they went to leave, the younger son stood up and put on his school blazer and cap, it was the Quainton Hall uniform, I pointed it out to dad- it was so strange to see and left all of us silent for a few minutes, thinking of you, a cheeky schoolboy with gappy teeth in the blue striped blazer. It’s moments like that when your absence hurts like hell.
But dad’s ok. He works hard still. It’s how he got through it all. But often I think when we mention you, I see him get choked up and his eyes go red. I know he misses you.. misses you laughing at his bad jokes. Even he says that- how you would laugh first and then realize they weren’t even funny. Him and Judith are very happy, she looks after him so well, and they love each other enormously.
And Esther- oh you would be so proud of Esther, she’s a social worker now, she did a Masters and works in a hospital..Remember how she would always say hoppital? She’s just brought the sweetest little house also; it’s a real oasis and just perfect for her. I love her to bits. It has been very strange to go from being 3 to just 2. Just 2 sisters. Missing the third side to our triangle. She was the middle child always and me, the eldest, being little mum, knowing I had two younger birdlings to boss around. I was always a bossy knickers, wasn’t I? Sorry..We’ve had to rebalance ourselves, like a table with three legs suddenly toppling over when you take one away.
Esther had a difficult year at one point and there were times when I wished so strongly that you were around to support her and give her advice when she needed it. She lost a lot of confidence but fortunately she is back to being her amazing, hilarious self again. She really is so funny with her quirky sense of humour. You and her were a great combination. A right old double act.
And mum, well mum has been quite incredible. A real powerhouse, she has tried to move mountains to find out the truth about what happened to you and the horrific events that led to your death. She is a real fighter, and the strongest woman I know. Her powerful love for you has had real effect in the world, always the search for truth and justice.. I hope one day there will be answers. It is immense how she has carried on searching again I guess it is what saved her.
And now she is doing a writing degree, finally doing something for herself and she is so very happy and loving being immersed in reading and writing. She loves it so..
And Granny turned 100 this year! She got her telegram from the Queen! We are so lucky that she is in our lives, she hasn’t changed, Jerry! Still interested in everything, still positive, still singing and playing the piano and complaining about the government! Still saying ‘me too’ whenever we tell her we love her! I hope we will enjoy many years with her as we can.
And as for me, well.. I guess this is another reason why I’ve written this letter to you. I’ve really needed you these last few months and another reason why I felt so close to you. I’m still playing the harp, so that’s not changed. I play in the nutcracker ballet every Christmas, and will at least once in the season remember how you came to see me play that last time you were over. Was that the last time I saw you? Maybe..
A couple of years after you died, I met a guy. A man who made me happier than I had been in my entire life. He loved me enormously and I him, we had some incredible times together. I felt so lucky. I always thought that you and he would have been great friends. You would have talked about music, he supports Arsenal, we even went dancing to drum and bass club together and I thought of you- honestly you would have loved him. Everyone did. He has two brothers, really good guys, it felt great to have brothers again. We got married and had a truly beautiful wedding, it felt so good to have something to celebrate for our family and was a way of proving that life did go on and there was some sense to it all. But, ah I don’t know. Last year, everything went wrong. And then last summer he just left. It was all such a mess and I felt my world and my heart shatter for a 2nd time. I feel so sorry that I got it all wrong.
And I really really could have done with you being around. I was desperate to speak to you, have you tell me I would be alright. I would hear your voice in my head saying ‘don’t worry Geega, you’re going to be fine’. Wanted nothing more than a hug from my big strong younger brother who was always so wise and so full of good advice. I really needed you. I imagine you would have told me to get on the Eurostar and come to Paris where we could have got drunk on red wine and sat in cafes having deep meaningful chats about life, and I could have flirted with your handsome French friends for an ego boost. That would have been brilliant. Sometimes I walk around with my hand outstretched imagining I was holding your hand, probably look a bit weird. I just bloody miss you. Wanted something, someone to make the pain stop, you would have made me laugh again.
Oh well, I know I will be ok. I am a strong person, it’s just I thought I’d been through enough, cried enough tears for one lifetime. But I guess it’s like what happened with you, the worst things can happen out of nowhere, pootling along and then suddenly your world changes forever. I guess it feels a bit strange where we all are at this 10 year mark, for me the end of one stage and beginning of another. .not really knowing where I will be or what will happen for me. But then again why would you know that anyway? I know that I will have a good life, I promise you, I will make it so. One thing I’ve learned is that life can be blown away like dandelion seeds .. and to be thankful to be part of it. At the funeral they said we should live 2 lives with one for you.. but you’d probably just want us to live our own really, really well.
I have so much love for you Jerry, I am truly grateful for the time we did share together. I was sad that we were just becoming great friends as adults leaving behind all the annoying sibling clashes we had when we were tetchy teenagers. We had so much in common, but I am thankful for those happy times we spent, although they weren’t enough. There are so many things I have to remember you as a happy, gregarious, entertaining fellow- dancing at Bar Rhumba to Black hole of the sun, Stevie Wonder Superstition and Les Fleurs. So much music. Quoting Withnail and I, singing along to Bugsy Malone or Zippiedidoodah.. “Hello Bedford Falls’” Seinfeld. Walking on Sandy Heath, or by the Seven Sisters. There are a multitude of memories and things that make me smile when I think of them.
You were the best of us, the brightest, the cleverest, and the funniest. Always learning, always wanting to experience and take the most you possibly could from life. And you are so loved, are still tight in the hearts of so many people. You meant the world to all of your friends.
It’s hard though for us as a family to talk about you still, drop a memory of you into conversation..perhaps the sadness and shock is still too raw. Sometimes we can, we remember a funny story or joke but it’s not as often as I’d like although you know you are there always. Never doubt that. Maybe we will be able to do this in the future with more time to heal us.
We’re going to do a big concert for you in November, on your birthday. I hope it will be amazing. It will be in the most beautiful place. I always wanted to do this and now, by a series of wonderful coincidences, finally we will be. I want to make it a celebration of everything you loved! Music, comedy, dancing- the Jerryfest!! I hope you will approve. This band Starsailor even wrote a song about you – imagine that?! It’s quite incredible to think that there is a song in the world because of you, and there have been tv programmes and radio programmes that mum has been on to bring awareness to what happened to you. People know what happened. I wish there was a way they knew how brilliant you were, not simply the unbearable way you died.
And today hasn’t been all sadness, not at all. We went to the cemetery, planted daffodils and laughed our heads off trying to remember that silly phrase you used to describe yourself. PCMB, you know the one..
And as dad says we think of you everyday so today is no different really. I guess it’s the actual marking of such a huge amount of time that has passed since your physical presence was with us. But I hope your energy, your spirit still exists somewhere. It was truly great. We carry you with us for always.
Anyway Jezebel,Jelboy, Bozo,
Love you forever and ever .
Your Geega x
JEREMIAH DUGGAN – 10/11/80- 27/03/03