I’m reading up on out of body experiences, lucid dreaming, anything that might get me out of all of this and let me see my dead brother again.
He’s been dead five years, so I’m under no illusions that it’ll be a clear vision. I’m starting to forget his face, and even the pictures don’t help. So I’m banking on an out of body experience. They say that if you lie real still, and focus on your breathing, imagine that a rope is leading out of your skull and up into the ceiling, beyond that, up into the sky and beyond that, that you’re on your way to a bonafide OBE. There are no guarantees, but that seems like as good a place to start as any.
I was never one for meditating, but Nick was. My brother was, and I remember some of what he told me back when he was diving into Zen, going to the temple every week, etc. Sometimes I wonder about mindfulness, about why it couldn’t save him from himself in the end, and then I come back to the hurt, the “why”s that go nowhere, the feeling like you’ve knocked down a wall past reality, and now you’re in grayed-out backroom that hasn’t been rendered yet, the grief puts you out of the world, and it’s just you lying on hardwood in your apartment, trying to imagine a rope leading out of your head so you can see your brother again, and you’re trying not to tell yourself that this is fucking crazy, that this is going nowhere, because Nick always said that right when you thought you’d figured it out, that was the moment you had to start all over again.
When we were still kids, Nick would do stuff like stay awake for two days straight, put halved ping pong balls in front of his eyes for sensory deprivation, just to see what would happen, if he could write about it. He’d go a day or two without food, which, granted, wasn’t hard when there was barely any in the house, but he’d have nothing but water or tea, and that was before the eviction but not much before, and everything was still in boxes from the last place we had to abruptly leave, and I feel like he was starting to unravel then, even though it was still years before the eventual suicide, but nobody knew, and only in hindsight could we see all the distinct signs. I think back to the Other Side of YouTube videos we’d watch, before meme proliferation, before Vine and TikTok, back when you had to hunt down all the weird shit, and it seemed like Nick was always trying to find ways to disturb himself out of what he was thinking, what he was feeling.
I’m still trying the out of body experience thing, but I’m not sure I’m doing it right. My brain keeps reminding me of how he looked in that room, hospital lights too bright, metal table, and when you’re dead they no longer have to worry about comfort. Gray skin, and water bloat, and it’s him all right, and hearing yourself make the sound that you made, and seeing yourself from up in room’s corner is the closest you’ve ever come to having an out of body experience, perspective shift, and if you never have to feel that way again then that’ll be fine, if that’s the only way it’ll come, but you can stay awake in caffeine haze and have the heat off in winter, so the hardwood is ice cold, and it’s starting to hurt, and maybe you’ll see him one more time, face un-gray, un-bloated, like how he was when he was still here, not a body slab on cold metal in hospital light, and come out of this body, come out of your mind and allow yourself communion. Come apart and don’t worry about putting yourself back into that trauma body. You don’t have to remember everything all the time.
And floating now, over yourself, it’s not a rope so much as a hole in the ice bringing you out of liquid cold and into the air, away from where bodies can die and decay and be forgotten. And maybe your brother is in there somewhere, apart from any memories you had of him. He’s just there, inextricable from the way he ended up. You’re sliding out, away from your head, floating through the old mall you guys used to go to as kids, but now it’s closed down, and all you can hear are the hits they used to play, and the speakers are blasting out to emptiness and decrepitude, and there’s the place where you’d buy a pack of Pokémon cards for a few bucks, there’s what remains of the food court, just mold and not-so-drywall, and you can see your brother as you want to remember him, floating above the fountain at mall’s center, and you’re starting to gain self awareness in this thing, whatever it is, dream or real, but you decide to stay a while and watch as he floats, airborne, catching rays, rotating in the air, dancing through it, smiling all the time.