Brian Justin Ha, 1967-1995
I've just finished the 3 issue Project Superman miniseries for DC, and I'm taking time off to organize my life. That includes the papers of my late older brother, Brian Justin Ha. He killed himself in 1995, after repeated drunk driving arrests threatened his right to drive. Fearing he'd lose his job as an accountant if he couldn't drive to work he turned on his Honda's engine in a closed garage and sat back. He must have changed his mind because he stumbled out, leaving handprints on the hood, and almost made it free. He lay only two feet from the doorknob.
His ashes reside in the town we grew up in, South Bend/Mishawaka. He hated South Bend and was glad to leave. The cemetery is across the street from a shopping mall, and he hated that mall even more than he hated the town. So I'm hoping to move his ashes this year. I suppose it doesn't really matter to the dead, but that doesn't mean I can't show some respect.
Anyhow, while going through his papers I found this:
As I grow older I like to think that I grow wiser. That my vision and my judgments are less cluttered.
byAnd as I look back on how I had thought before and laugh, I like to think it is because I have gained new insight and have climbed another step in my search for truth. Not that I have jumped to the other side of the fence.
I keep those two drawers worth of material, and much more, in a leather bound chest. I also have some of my dog Georgia's stuff in there too. They never met, but I think they would have really liked each other. And a man can't find better company than a dog, even in death.
Sometimes I pull out the two drawers I save my memories in. I rummage through the papers and envelopes and find the material I need to prove to myself that I have indeed become wiser for the days that have passed. And when I am satisfied, I return the drawers to the
cabinetbureau. Two drawers full of memories, used only a few times a year. Already a third is taking form, pushing aside the shirts and the pair of argyle socks that found their way to that drawer...
I'm always haunted that he could collapse under the weight of life while I go on. He was smarter than me and more talented as an artist. He didn't have the patience to sit at a single drawing for hours on end, but that's because he had better things to do. He played high school football and wrestling, and he was pretty smooth with the ladies. Charming and funny . He was also handsome: girls would scream at him from cars while he was jogging, and women would ask him about produce in the grocery store. None of these things are true of me, but he was used to it. I was a nerdy kid, but I had him to protect me. I never told him if I got beat up at school, but if he found out he'd make the bullies pay. I heard he once went after two at once, and they went running. If I've ever done any of you a good turn it's because he thought the good in me was worth protecting.
But he was cut down by addiction. Drinking and depression. So you can see why I take offense when people say that Amy Winehouse was a waste of oxygen.
Anyhow this one's for you, BJ. You pushed and inspired me hard growing up, and you're still there pushing me today to be a good man. I wish you could do it in person, that's all.