Ten years ago, Tuesday 30th October 2007, my oldest brother Paul was interred after taking GHB a well-known recreational and date rape drug. Unfortunately, he had also been drinking heavily and once he took the drug I guess his body just stopped.
The funeral was humanist and was extremely well handled by the celebrant, showing respect to those of faiths other than my own (which happens to be none) and I was one of those who spoke. The following is what I said:
Like our Dad Paul had strong views and frequently engaged in "loud discussions" with others over them. Many a Christmas was spent in the local hostelry with Dad, Paul, Sean & Grandad discussing politics and me and Mike making inane quips from the sidelines. Paul always expressed his views strongly, always genuinely believing he was right and would try to persuade others of his views with enthusiasm, throwing at them point after point in an effort to drive his views to the fore, selling his views almost as if he were selling the latest technological innovation.
There were times he would deliberately pick arguments and stances that would challenge so much that he could drive you up the wall, round the corner and down the street. But no one, no one could ever stay mad at Paul for long and, as many have kindly said since his death, he was charming, dynamic, witty, compulsive, wore a genuine smile that is hard to describe and had an infectious laugh best heard just before the punch-line of his latest joke or story. He could (and did) disarm others almost immediately and any issue that person had with him would be forgotten in minutes ... I was no exception to that. I often sought his approval and that is something (a talent if you like) I envied about him, something I am at a loss to explain.
One of my fondest memories of him was when we, his brothers, met him in a London hostelry. Paul was last to arrive (as always) and did so with his hair tied back, wearing a long dark mafia-style coat, walked straight up to us stuck out his hand (upon which he wore a ring) and, with a hint of laughter, said, "You may kiss the hand of The Don" ... we collapsed in hysterics. My last memory, the one I think I will cherish the most, is after a drink we had a few weeks ago; Paul was last to arrive (as always), the "loud discussion" had started and, for whatever reason, there was more than a hint of acrimony as we parted but for no reason I can remember I called Paul late at night when I was near my home ... I sat for about 15 minutes on a wall outside my house chatting to him, him telling me how much he valued me as a brother and how much he loved me.
It would be easy to be sad, it's hard to imagine never seeing the dynamo that was Paul again but I know he'd want us to remember him as the person he was, to delight in the life he had and not drown ourselves in sorrow at his loss. He would want us to get up and get on with our lives with no more than a hint of wistful regret that he is no longer part of it.
Paul, you were/are my brother and I will miss you, you loved your family so very much and I only have one thing to say to you, "Right back at ya Bruv, right back at ya!"
There's not a great deal I can say about this except that even now, ten years later, I miss him.