Two years ago on Friday July 13th Charlie lost his twin brother Connor and I lost my best friend. It’s funny how fate works. I met Connor during my freshman year of college. He was a doctor and I was a bright-eyed small town girl. I didn’t know what our future would hold or how close our friendship would grow. Connor and I dated briefly. I was young and not ready for a relationship. I needed to find my wings and try to soar on my own. I dabbled in love, traveled the world, and eventually came to rest at a place I called home.
Home wasn’t in Connor’s arms. Instead it was in the arms of a man I thought I loved. We had our family, our dogs, and started making our house a home. Connor looked on from the side lines. He tried to tell me I was making a huge mistake. Refused to come to my wedding and told me I would regret the day I said “I do.” I know he was hurt. He had been waiting for me to find my way, to stop searching, and to land in his arms.
Life has a funny way of working. After 5 years I had enough I bowed out and who did I call? Connor, I called him crying and he hushed my fears. His words gave me strength and he led me to belive that I could make it on my own. Connor had been waiting for this moment. The moment where I was no longer in the arms of another, but free to find my way to him. Yet, it didn’t end up that way. Connor decided to leave the stage in the middle of his song. He never dared to ask, he never took the chance to find home again. He took his own life and with that my life was forever changed.
I was the last soul Connor spoke to before he took his life. I wish I could remember the conversation we had. I try to play it in my mind. Did I ask him if he was all right? Did I whisper I love you? Or did I talk about a geek, an attorney, and forget that my friend was hurting too. Hurting so much he asked me to get on a plane and I said no. To this day I wonder if I had said yes would he still be with us. Charlie was angry with me. He blamed me for Connor’s death. I tried explaining our last conversation Charlie uttered in anger “You are just a spoiled little brat. Thats all you are. You didn’t care about my brother. You could have saved him.” With those words in the background I walked through security and made my flight back to Minneapolis.
Months went by. Charlie’s words haunted me and I refused to reach out to him. Fate is funny. Charlie ended up coming to Minneapolis for work a lot. We never crossed paths. His mama told me when he was in town urged me to talk with him. I politely told her no every time. That is until one evening a snow storm was coming in to the cities. Planes were delayed and the roads were a mess. I looked at my phone and recognized the NYC area code it took everything in me not to hit ignore. I picked up the phone and Charlie was on the other end. He needed a ride to his hotel as his flight was delayed, again it took everything in me to not say no. I told him I would be waiting in baggage claim.
An as they say in the story books the rest was history. That night he broke down and cried. Apologized for the hurtful words he spilt in the airport concourse and asked if I would forgive him. A friendship grew out of a horrible circumstance. In Charlie I found home. In Charlie I had a small piece of my best friend. Fuck they were mirror twins exact copies of each other. I can tell you that Charlie and Connor were to very different men. Two very different men who fell in love with a curly-haired midwestern girl. In the midwest they found their home.
Last July 13th we put candles on two little wooden boats and set them in the river in honor of Connor. I watched it float down stream, with a silent prayer the tears began to fall. I looked over at Charlie he was trying his damnedest to fight back the flow of emotion. Into my arms he collapsed. Charlie began to tell me how much he missed his brother, how painful it was to see the look in people’s eyes. He asked me “Do you know what its like to look exactly like a dead man?” No I told him. No I do not. As we walked up from the river he took my hand and asked me “AJ how come we don’t date? I mean you are incredible and I’d be one lucky man to have you by my side.” Oh boy I said and erupted with laughter. Don’t you think it would be kind of weird. Charlie looked at me and said “Why because I look like a dead man or because you dated my brother for three seconds while you were in college? Let the world judge dear. Let them fucking judge.”
With those words I let the world judged and fell in love with a NYC attorney. Spent so much time at The Ivy they no longer thought I was an escort. I found my home. At one point I looked to the heavens and said “All right Connor you can stop pushing.” Connor always joked that I would be a good match for his brother and you know what he was right. Connor’s death was horrible and something I will never get over. However out of that one shear moment of pain something beautiful was born and that was love. Connor brought Charlie and I together. Because of him I was able to find love again and feel at home in Charlie’s arms.
Charlie wanted to honor his brother at our wedding and let the world know how amazing he was. He became very involved in suicide prevention and awareness programs. Charlie hung on to everything that reminded him of his brother right down to some old ratty sweat shirts. I understood Charlie’s pain, he came into this world with a side kick and he would have to leave this world alone. Alone is something he never liked. He surrounded himself with friends, family, and sometimes complete strangers. I asked him once why he didn’t like to be alone he said to me “AJ I don’t know how to be alone. Connor was always at my side and now I have to face the world without my brother.”
Charlie wasn’t alone on the day he died. I have to believe that God has a spot for his weary travelers and Connor was waiting on the other side. That Charlie found peace when he saw his brother. Because now there are two black stones in a little cemetery in the Hamptons. Connor is no longer alone. Once again Charlie is at his side and once again a curly haired midwestern girl lost her best friend. She had to say good-bye. This time I walked away broken-hearted and knew full well that a part of me went into the ground that day.
Two little wooden boats have been bought and on Friday I will set them a drift in the mighty Mississippi. I took the time to find ones that would hold a tea light perfectly. I can only hope that Connor and Charlie will see the boats from heaven and smile down upon them.
Below is a song by Mercy Me, “I can only imagine” was played at both Connor and Charlie’s Funnerals.