It has been a year since you died.
My heart aches for your mother and your father. I cry when I think of you, I cry when I think of them.
Your father gave me a beautiful picture of you standing by a lake with your arms spread wide. The picture hangs on the wall right across from my recliner.
Every time I look at it I shake my head in disbelief, and I often cry.
I look at it a lot.
My deepest regret is that I never got to really know my nephew as a man. My brother's only son. The last seven or eight years of his life were an enormous struggle, and I did not get to see much of him.
He was 27 when he died.
But there are some memories. We went to an Allman Brothers concert once; Jonathan, Eddie, Kevin and me. Did up some barbecue on my porch before we went and had a great night at Meadowbrook.
I visited Jonathan in rehab once with Eddie. Made a long trip down, I forget where the facility was, and when we got there we sat with Jonathan, just the three of us in a room.
Talking. Just talking.
He seemed so upbeat at the time, seemed like he was making progress.
That's what sucks about that goddamn disease. Heroin addiction. It doesn't let go.
He bounced back so many times, got himself a job and started over. Just the fact that he kept landing jobs considering what he was going through is a testament to his willpower.
So many lazy people say they can't find a job and my nephew would get out of rehab and find himself a job. Usually cooking, and he always did well and was often offered the opportunity to manage the kitchen.
Then he would succumb once again to the power of that goddamn drug.
Jonathan was a talented musician and artist. One of my brother's greatest sources of pride was teaching him to play the drums. He played well. I know that for a fact because my brother told me so and he would not sugar coat it if Jonathan couldn't play.
Jonathan was smart, he was witty, he was charismatic, he was creative.
I wish deeply, with all of my heart, that I could have been closer to him as an uncle. Just so I could enjoy his personality and feel his magic. I think we would have made a pretty good pair.
He has left me feeling like I somehow blew it, and I ache because of that.
Jonathan was destroyed by a drug that hollows out your insides and turns
you into someone else, someone darker, someone unrecognizable.
I used to joke about hard drugs, make stupid comments about how I could use some heroin to kill my pain. I thought guys like Pablo Escobar and George Jung were cool; outlaws getting rich and flipping the finger at society.
I see things differently now. I see those guys as assholes.
Ultimately, Jonathan's gift is the love and pride and happiness he inspired in Eddie and Kathy for most of his life. He brought a lot to this world, a lot more than most people do.
He made my brother happy. He made my brother proud. I love my brother deeply and I can take some comfort in knowing that.
But it hurts to know how much Eddie hurts since December, 17, 2014.
It has been a year and the pain is no less. No less at all.
The loss is too big.
I wish I could have gotten to know Jonathan a lot better. A lot deeper.
I will never get that chance now.
I regret that deeply.