Someone once said to me that people often love you more once you are gone. Perhaps they’d got their emotions mixed up because you don’t love that person any more, you just miss them, and that’s what you mean when you say love. Love is a living thing – it ends when all other things end, just like an on and off switch.
My mother stayed at home during Jake’s funeral. Of course people talked when they noticed she wasn’t there – what kind of mother wouldn’t go to her own son’s funeral? Truth is that she couldn’t bare saying goodbye just yet, the wound still fresh in her heart. She will only let go once Jake’s death is avenged.
About[LM1] fifty people turned up to the funeral service, most were Jake’s university friends who came down from Bath specially to say their final goodbyes. Jake’s best friend since childhood, Shane, was there too, with his arm around Jake’s girlfriend who sobbed throughout the whole service. Shane had to take her out during my speech because she was getting too loud.
I didn’t cry. I had cried enough already in the privacy of my home, with the closed doors barring the world against me. My mother was always in her own room, grieving alone, and hating alone. My father has never been around, so it was just the two of us. My voice did crack once though near the end of my speech but I held my head high and counted to three in my head before carrying on. I thanked everyone there for coming, I told Jake I missed him, and I announced that there would be no wake at the house since my mother was ‘sick’. Then the coffin was closed and was taken to be cremated. Everyone slowly trickled out of the crematorium and I sat down alone on one of the benches. I imagined that I would be able to smell the burning from here, but I know bodies were taken down into a pit. I wished that I could have had another moment with Jake alone, that I could have woken him up just for a second so I could him say something to me before he went back to sleep… back to death.
Jake was a Jane Austen fan, despite the jeers he got for being the only boy in the module to idolize her works, and he was a master at the subject. Even his tutor said so, that perhaps Jake knew Austen better than the teacher herself. Anyway, during one Easter break Jake eloped off to a Jane Austen convention camp where he met Elissa (his ex) and Elissa’s twin sister, Eliza (his girlfriend now). When Jake decided that he liked Eliza more than Elissa more we don’t know, but I’ve never seen or even heard about Elissa since. This was about a year ago, but since then their relationship has been on the rocks. Whenever they had an argument at our house, Shane would be the one to come pick her up, and this would only make things worse. Jealousy was one thing Jake couldn’t control. I could never understand what their fights were about, but a part of me knows that these weren’t normal domestic arguments. They were hiding something but I couldn’t ever find what it was. The nights when Shane would come to pick up Eliza, he would have to wait about twenty minutes before she’s come storming down the stairs, tears still wet on her cheeks. In these moments, Shane would sit with me in the kitchen and make small talk, basking in each other’s peaceful silences rather than feel awkward.
Two weeks before Jake was to return to university, he was stabbed three times in an alley on the other side of town. It was two in the morning, and no one was around. He bled to death, alone, lying there in the rain unable to call out for help. It must be the loneliest death I’ve ever heard of. He was found the next day by a dog and its owner as they were on walk to the nearby park. Life has never been the same since we got the phone call.
Mum wanted Jake’s body cremated – she couldn’t stand the idea of him being in the ground, his scars and flesh rotting away into nothing. Mum believes that we were made from dust, and thus we should be reverted to our original states. The ashes will stay at home with us until she decides what she wants to do with them.
Our father left us when I was two and Jake was five. I have no memory of him at all, and Jake said that he remembered that he had large hands. But all kids think men have large hands, right? Jake doesn’t remember anything else, not even the divorce. It was like he was never there, forever a stranger to us. Mum never kept any pictures of him, we only have pictures of us as babies and toddlers and loads of pictures of us in different stages of growing up. But never one of him. No one told us why they divorced. To all our relatives it was just ‘one of those things in life’ that has no reason, no meaning. I never understood why there were so many things that could be left unexplained. ‘It doesn’t matter’ Jake would say. ‘After we’re gone, no one’s going to care or remember us anyway. We’ll be sucked into a black hole, and everything will be forgotten.’ Jake was always like that – he didn’t believe in God. Our father was sucked into a black hole, according to Jake’s philosophy. And one day, we’ll be going down with him.