09.08.2016

I thought about titling this blog “The Year that Didn’t Happen,” because, well…it didn’t–at least not as it was supposed to.  I was going to be juggling a job, a newly burgeoning film career, being a husband, and being a father to not one, but two boys.  But a year ago today I held my second son for the first, and last time.  I remember it as if it were yesterday.

Like all babies, he was lighter than he looked.  But this one…Isaac looked like me.  It was nice to see.  I love T3, but he certainly looks more like a Cooper than he does a Brown.  Isaac had my nose, which up until his mid-fifties would have been a good thing.  (It goes downhill from there.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not okay, and that that’s all right.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be “OK.”  I have an Isaac shaped hole in my heart that couldn’t possibly be filled.  But I don’t want that.

I still laugh.  I still dream.  And if you ask Isaac’s older brother what the meaning of life is, he will answer loud and clear: “Bacon!”  I’ve done well.

But Isaac, I miss you, boy.  And I always will.

Not many people ask me how I’m doing.  This, I believe, is mainly due to the fact that, as a Gemini, I’m quite good at keeping my cards hidden.  And I don’t take offense to it.  I’m usually more concerned about what is going on in others lives than to worry them with my own.  I am fine.  Just a little more sad than usual.

I’ve started (again) to write a novel.  I don’t have much written but the first page says the following:

To my boys, Thomas D. Brown III and Isaac Joel Brown.

I don’t know when exactly you became my compass on this adventure, but I can’t imagine life without you.  And so I dedicate this adventure to you.  

Love,
Your Father

Maybe I should have titled the blog “Meandering with Isaac.”  #LOL

You have never stopped being an inspiration my boy, and though the idea of waiting any longer to hold you again tears me apart, I’ll do us all a favor, and keep on kickin’ until I’m old and gray.  (Don’t tell anyone, but I’m starting to go gray already.)

Cheers.

Dad

PS: Your headstone / marker thing is pretty nice.  I liked that it had a tree on it.  A bringer of life. -T2

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Dear Isaac, #2

I read a love poem today and it made me think of both your mother, and of you.  E.E. Cummings wrote “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” in 1952, and in 2016, I share it with you:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Love,

Dad

2015

I moved across the country.
I lost weight, and gained it back.
I read twenty-three books.  Not one of them was the one I promised to read.
I literally, “leaped for joy,” upon learning of my wife’s pregnancy.
I starred in a movie and made several.
My son taught me how to be a triceratops.  I taught him about bacon.
I was unemployed. “Sorry, we’re going in a cheaper direction.”
But, then I got a job.
I wore a tuxedo, and cried at a wedding.
But then my baby died.  I held him in my arms, only once, for fear I wouldn’t let him go again.
We put him in the ground, and I held my wife.
And, then I went to work.
I made new friends.
I tried new food.
I cried a lot. 
I began working on my novel again.  We’ll see how it works out.
I have not visited his grave.
Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of year.
All I want is for it to be September 8th, and for him to still be here.
But time is a constant.
Thanksgiving was good.
I’ve whispered “I love you” into my son’s ear, on a consistent basis.
I’ve watched Star Wars twice.
I’ll see it again, soon.
I don’t like resolutions.
But I will promise myself, this:

I will not stop.  I will continue.  I will learn how to breathe again.
I will make him proud.
I love you, Isaac.

Dear Isaac, #1

I’ve been thinking about you today.  Trying to keep it to just at “lunch time” because I won’t be productive otherwise.  My heart breaks every time I do.  No good customer service experience could blossom from that.  #NewJob

I want to make a movie for you, but I don’t know what to do.  I thought I could do a documentary-style essay, or letter from me to you, but that’s too on the nose—I would cry the whole time and not get anything done.

I have a science-fiction idea, which could be really cool if I can shape it into a story.  Ideas come easier than whole stories do.  It’s something you learn the more time you spend writing.  It would help if I knew what you looked like, you know, grown up.  I don’t know.  You were a beautiful baby though, and you had your mother’s lips.  You looked like your brother did when he was first born.  A little more purple, though.

Some people will read that last bit and think my joke in poor taste, but it isn’t for them.  It’s for you and for me.  And if you’re anything like your Dad, which I’m sure you would have been, you’d appreciate a good corpse joke, as I appreciate a good one-nut joke (as it pertains to my survival of testicular cancer in 2001).

Here’s what it boils down to: How can you miss someone you’ve never met so much that it breaks you apart every few days?  How do you tell that story?  You know, without just saying it–that’s too easy, and you deserve a masterpiece, not some Hallmark movie of the week.  I love you more than life.

It’s therapeutic to write to you.  I’m going to do it again.

Does it make a good blog post?  Probably not, but I’d rather keep it here than risk losing the piece of paper.  I’ll write you again soon…once I’ve figured out your story.

Love,

Dad

Moving Forward…

The snob in me wants to wax verbose about how the breeze feels across my neck, but I think that part of me died two weeks ago. I’m sitting here in Garfield Park in Indianapolis on a Saturday evening, getting ready to crew the pick-up shoot for Dark Ground, a feature film I had the pleasure of starring in shortly after moving back to the heartland, and I’ve been hit with a horrible revelation: I might survive this.

My second son, Isaac Joel Brown, was born six weeks early on September 8th, 2015. He was 18.5 inches long and weighed 5 lbs 9 ounces. He died the night before in his mother’s womb, and the moment that should have been overwhelming in its joy was instead filled with sorrow as I saw my son for the first time, a corpse.

Now, I’m a spiritual man, and I believe Isaac to be in Heaven right now and in that moment as well. He left a warm and happy place and found himself in an even better one. This does not comfort me much. I would rather replace this knowledge with the memory of his laugh, smile, cry, touch, smell or any of the other events that might have been had he survived. I look at my oldest son and know that Isaac would have had the best older brother and that not only was his family denied his presence, but he ours.

It’s very easy to look at the horrible things that life throws at you, and simply “throw in the towel.” I could lose faith. Saying “everything happens for a reason” not only sounds stupid in times like these but cruel as well. What reason could be good enough to kill my son?

Dwelling on thoughts like this is the path to the dark side of the force. I will not search for blame. Fear leads to anger, anger to hate, and hate to further suffering. We’ve suffered enough. I have an Isaac sized hole in my heart as proof of that.

So I continued. I continued to take job interviews, work on film projects and I have not stopped writing. This Friday I was offered and in turn accepted a full-time job. I have also begun working on three different film projects and began prepping a fourth (for the 60 Hour Film Challenge).

I make time for my wife. She is suffering as I am suffering. I have hobbies though. I’ve never prayed in a blog post before, but I pray now that God place his healing hand over all of us. Things won’t change over-night, but one day, one minute at a time, we will get through this.

So, Internet, here is my vow: I will not dwell in sorrow and anger, I will not deny them, I will feel them for as long as I must, and I will let them go. I will make this life the best one I can live and I will remember Isaac Joel Brown. I will remember him as he should have been, beautiful and alive. For he was beautiful, and according to his mother, one heck of a kicker!

DSC_4534

I love you, Isaac.

Now, it’s time to make a movie.

Throwback Thursday or My New Old Best Friend

Dear God,

First, thank you for today.  I love it when I wake up and I’m still here.  Now, secondly, thank you for my brother, Richard.  When we were younger neither of us were very good at the whole “being a supportive brother” thing, but now that we’ve grown, I couldn’t ask for a better friend.

This isn’t my typical blog post, but it’s something that’s been pressing on my heart.  I need to say these things and not just privately.

Fifteen years ago if you had asked me what I thought of my younger brother I would tell you “I love him.”  Or I would have made a fat joke.  (Oh, the irony.)  What I wouldn’t tell you is this:

He is funny, charming, intelligent, honorable, kind, and fair-minded.  He has been nothing short of a beacon of support for me in any endeavor I have ever had, and doesn’t speak to me as if one day I will be successful, but as if I already am.  Do I have disagreements with him?  Of course, one could say “all the time,” but they are no longer fights, they are conversations.  Do I think he’s obnoxious?  Incredibly.  But then again, so am I.  I like to blame it on being a Gemini, but the stars hold little sway on my behavior, not nearly as much as I do.

No idea who all those other people are.

When I was younger I was indifferent to this “younger” person who was not smaller than me.  I know, if you ask him, he would say I was a horrible older brother.  I wasn’t mean, and I cared about him deeply.  That being said our relationship never really evolved past the point it was when my parents brought him home from the hospital:

“If I hit him (physically or emotionally) he’ll make noise, and often times he’ll make enough noise or the wrong noise, and he’ll get in trouble instead of me.”  Like the time when I poked him and he threw himself through a table in order to get me in trouble for pushing.  As quick and clever as the plan was, our mother saw through it.  #Skills

It wasn’t until I was 21 that I stopped this.  When I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and despite all of our previous history, my brother showered me with support.  I let a lot of things go during chemotherapy, to say nothing about my hair.  I don’t usually sweat the small stuff (outside of food in restaurants) anymore, and hurting my brother for sport had no more appeal.  It was childish.  And though, not intended, it was cruel.

Now, not all of the change was me, but it was enough.  I have found that this crusty Tech Sergeant is and has always been my best friend.  And I can’t thank God enough for bringing him into my life on that June morning, so many years ago.

Love,

T2

Too many ideas?

 

I don’t actually think it’s possible to have too many ideas.  Too many ideas at the same time?  Yes, that could be a problem.  Learning to focus on one project and stick with it to the end isn’t a new problem for writers, and certainly isn’t one I haven’t faced before.  But, like any good villain/addiction, it keeps rearing its ugly head.

I must learn to narrow my focus from time to time.

And I have done this.  I did it for my web-series (and was set to shoot it when my producer/guy-giving-me-money-to-do-it bailed on me), and I did when I was submitting for the ABC Writing Fellowship.  And I do at work.

Deadlines.  That’s what these events have in common.  Well, how do you impose a self-inflicted deadline?  What am I going to do for myself if I achieve it?  What am I going to do if I don’t achieve it?  At the end of the day I’m not going to punish myself.

I like me too much for that.  #dumb

Instead, I’m trying to build healthy habits in my life.  One of them is daily writing.  If I can’t manage to focus this Gemini-addled brain, at least I can work it on the regular.  And by the sheer quantity of work I produce, I’m bound to finish something without a deadline.  Right?

-T2

PS: On a side note, here’s an excerpt from a recent short story I wrote for the Ventura County Writer’s Club Short Story Contest.

            Marnella Millhouse Maddison-MacGuffin was born with only one eye. “She only has her right eye,” people would say; which of course was ludicrous.  How can you have a right eye, if you’ve never had a left. It was simply put, her eye, and she was quite happy to call it that, thank you very much.

             “Who needs two eyes anyway,” she often thought. She could see as good as any dual-eyed person she knew. She often saw better than most, in fact, with the small exception of peripheral vision, but that’s why necks exist.

            And she could see as clear as day that stealing an Ogre’s treasure was a bad idea. But did anybody ask her what she thought of the plan? Of course not, that would have been smart.  

            “It’ll be alright Marney, there’s nothing to worry about.  Just go play with your dolls.” Well, she didn’t want to play with her dolls, and she didn’t want to go trouncing into the Ogre cave to rescue the morons either, but it was obvious that someone who could actually see what they were doing had to get involved.

            So, there she stood, knee deep in snow and ash, peering into the darkness of the Ogre cave, with her father’s broken sword by her side. The wind bit at her neck.  Couldn’t risk raising her hood. Whatever peripheral vision she had, she would need. 

            “Well, here goes,” she said as she entered the Ogre’s cave.