06 September 2011

The last time I saw my uncle Steve, I was crying uncontrollably into a pint of Guinness. Until then, I probably had not cried in over a decade.

We had just buried my older brother Billy. I had on an ill-fitting suit and shoes that were far too small. I wasn’t ready for a funeral. I remember awkwardly stepping onto Steve’s shoes as we carried the coffin. How heavy that thing was. I seriously panicked that we would drop it, due to my clumsiness, ill-fitting attire and Billy’s massive bulk.

Apparently, Billy had joked that he always wanted Queen’s ‘Who Wants To Live Forever?’ at his funeral. Not that I would have known. I had walked down the street on several occasions and crossed his path and he stared right at me, into me, even. I’m not sure if he recognized me all the time or not. Maybe, he did. Maybe, he couldn’t get his head around what we were. On a couple of occasions, he obviously did recognize me and we briefly conversed and that felt good. But I always left it up to him, whether we were going to recognize each other or not.

When Queen played in the church, I knew it was going to be a heavy day but not for me. I mean, what did it mean to me anyway? We shared a few childhood memories. There are a couple of photos of us as young lads somewhere but we lived in different universes that we both had a hard time visiting. I was going to be OK. That song will never get to me, I told myself.

In the pub, after the fourth or fifth pint of Guinness, my cousin Gareth, Steve’s son, had asked me if I was OK. I thought I was but as soon as he said that, I lost my shit all together.

‘I don’t think so.’ I replied.

I  eventually left the pub and walked through the village to Oystermouth Castle and demanded an explanation from Billy. Other dead people had given me explanations but Billy never has and why the fuck should he?

Now whenever I think of Steve, who I hear is now living on a boat in the Mediterranean, I think about myself sobbing into a pint of Guinness and I wonder what sort of man, he must think I am.