“I just wanted to let you know that my little brother, Austin, passed away on Friday night. Please send prayers for his sweet soul. ❤️”
This was the other text I woke up to this day. I received this text from Chelsie. Those of you whom have followed my blog for a while might remember her, the one whose parents both died in a plane crash when she five.
Chelsie’s maternal uncle became her legal guardian following her parents’ untimely demise. He promptly married a woman that he met at the funeral. They subsequently had a son together, Austin. Austin was technically Chelsie’s cousin but they were raised as siblings.
Austin led a tortured existence of mental illness and drug abuse. In his early 20’s, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. On a daily basis, he was haunted by voices and delusions until he committed suicide at the age of 26.
As if Chelsie’s life hadn’t been tragic enough already, her maternal grandmother passed away two weeks later. The octogenarian possessed the only remnants of Chelsie’s mother’s face, the face Chelsie last saw in 1985 before she left for that fateful business trip.
Chelsie and I sat at the In-n-Out right next to LAX where all the tourists go to watch the planes land while they scarf down the much fabled burgers. My kidlet sat on my lap while he tried to simultaneously shove all the fries in his mouth and throw them all on the floor. It was a brief meet-up between her rental car drop-off and boarding time before she headed back east. She had been in town visiting a cousin. We chatted about Tyler and Chelsie’s perpetual inability to secure a long term romantic relationship.
“I had this nightmare quite few months back. I was on a commercial jet and it was about to crash. Much like that opening scene in Garden State. The plane was pitched down and shaking, the oxygen masks had deployed and people were screaming. In the dream I distinctly remember not being scared but extremely sad. Sad because I was going to miss my son’s whole life. I couldn’t fathom that I only got a few short months to love him and watch him grow. And when I woke-up, after the initial relief of being next to my snoozing baby, I thought of you.”
“I thought of you and how much she loved you and how you were undoubtably the last thought in her head. (My voice began to waiver as I got choked up) I want you to know your mom loved you more than life itself despite there being scant evidence from your brief five years together. She loved you in a way that I never understood until I became a mother myself.”
There we were, tearing up on the In-n-Out patio midday on a Wednesday.
We hugged and said farewell for another few years.