That's an attention grabbing title eh?
11 April this year will make it thirteen years since my big brother Gavin was killed in a car crash. He was driving back from the pub (not drunk) with his friends through the country roads in Wetherby, Yorkshire which proved too bendy and dimly lit for him. He thought the road was sharper than it was, hit the curb, the car toppled over and he was flung out the car (NO SEATBELT!!) with the car ended up landing on him. He was twenty four. I was seventeen.
I often feel a connection to people when I find out they have lost a sibling. Its the forgotten thing. We talk about people losing their parents or children, but we don't really discuss what its like to lose a sibling. At least thats how I saw it, I never knew anyone who had lost a brother when I was young.
In all fairness, I think I dealt with it all quite well. I had a couple of months of counselling, and then like any seventeen year old, I then went out a lot! My friends became my extra family and I cried and laughed with them during the weirdest hours. His funeral song was Angels by Robbie Williams, and to this day we all phone/run up to each other the minute we hear the song. We must be the only people left in the UK still excited to hear it still! It definitely had its time!
Grief hits you at odd times. One day you can be fine, the next you can wake in tears. Thirteen years later and I can still sit there in a day dream thinking of him. That film PS I LOVE YOU(with Gerard Butler and his dodgy Irish accent) had it right in some ways... I went from seeing my brother's face in my mind every minute of the day, to every day, to once a day, to once a week to sometimes not even having a clear image in my mind. If it wasn't for photos, I sometimes worry I wouldn't remember his face at all.
But like the ultimate optimist I am, I wanted to share some of the things my big brother Gavin taught me.
Let's try do thirteen things eh? Seems apt.
1) Live fast but don't die young. My brother used to say "Live Fast, Die Young." Thats a stupid thing to say; nobody should encourage dying young. But we could all live a bit faster at times. Be spontaneous. Be courageous. Do something different.
2) Love your family. And tell them. One of my best friends was arguing with her sister once and stopped mid row to remind her that I would give anything to argue with Gav again. I never end a phone call without saying I love you, even when they are driving me mad.
3) Love your friends. This year has seen two of my best mates get married and it made me realise how much I really do appreciate my friends. They were all with me the day we found out Gav had died, and so we are a very open and honest group who really care about our friendships. If you are lucky enough to also have a group of close mates, TELL THEM.
4) Have confidence. My brother had an ego the size of France. He genuinely believed he could do anything, which meant half the time, he gave it a shot. Conversely, my other brother is the opposite. He is the most talented, funniest bugger I know but has no self belief. My advice to him, and to you, is be courageous. Believe in YO SELF.
5) Do something nice. On the Mother's Day before my brother died, my brother sent every mum he knew a Mother's Day card. After his death it was something everyone spoke so fondly about. You don't have to die to do something that means so much to someone. Send a card, a random bunch of flowers, buy someone homeless a lunch.
6) Appreciate. There's nothing like a premature death to get you appreciating life and all it has to offer but you really don't have to lose someone to look up and realise all you have. Be grateful more. We don't do it enough.
7) Laugh. I think one of the reasons I went into comedy production was because of my crazy ass family. They are literally the weirdest, funniest bunch of people I know. The one thing we all managed to keep doing after Gav's death was laugh and it's a real medicine. Don't take yourself so seriously. See the silly.
8) You are not an island. Hugh Grant was wrong. Us humans need each other and you should not only accept but jump fully on board with that. We can't do it all alone. Be open. Rely on people. It is ok to need people.
9) Think more of yourself. Growing up with two big brothers meant it was engrained in me from a young age to not be slutty, but this message goes to either sex. Value yourself, know your worth and don't lower it for anyone.
10) People move on. When someone that close to you dies they stay forever that age in your mind, and, not to be too morbid here, but a part of you dies with them. The problem with life is (screw you life) is that people move on. The world keeps going round. His old school friends and ex girlfriends don't cry and remember him each year, because they are married with children now, it's only the real close ones who will continue to miss everyday. I remember the day I turned older than my brother, now that's a head mess. Learn to let go, life goes on and people move on.
11) Be lucky. Ironically, we thought Gav was the luckiest guy in the world. He just oozed luck. He taught me that luck was a state of mind. So, lets all just start "being lucky."
12) Listen. I'm a gobby so and so. I could chat to a bloomin' mirror for hours, but after Gav's death (this is getting repetitive eh?) my friends just sat and listened to me. They taught me through it all, to be able to listen. Most people with depression won't scream from the roof about it, so try to listen more. Be responsive.
13) JUST DO IT. In the words of that Nike campaign, and to state the friggin obvious, just do it. If you want to see the world, book that flight. If you want that job, apply for it, if you like that boy, tell him. We hold back far too much for stoopid reasons. We don't know how many attempts at this we get, let's just give it our best eh?
So to everyone reading (hi mum) and in memory of my big, idiot, wonderful brother, and in the words of comedian *Nick Helm, let's all just go kick life in the dick eh?
*Not Nick's exact words.