For our 40th birthday, Aaron and I spent it together in San Diego. As always (just like the tradition of watching Big Brother together), we find a way to be together for our birthday. So I drove down to his house, and we rang it in together. The day included a lot of work (typical…the day I want the load to be light, it’s all funky), Aaron painting me a picture, eating Mediterranean food and ending the night at our favorite pizza joint, Paesano. A random hodgepodge of activities, but so quintessential Farmer Twins. Up until that day, I never had any issues with turning 40. In fact, I still don’t feel 40. I feel 32. Which also makes my comprehension of Aaron’s death so hard: we just turned 40. I mean, that’s not old. And we even rang it in celebrating at a pizza parlor (and a damn good one! HA!). I have said from the moment that Aaron passed away that August 10, our birthday, is going to the hardest day of all of this. It’ll be hard for mom, dad and Bob, too, but for me, it’s going to be a very surreal day. My birthday without Aaron? Just typing that word is very, very, very strange. So I told myself that on August 10, I wouldn’t be anywhere familiar. Not in Long Beach, nor San Diego. Not in San Francisco or even California. My gut tells me to be somewhere where there are no ties to Aaron, so I can get through the day. I will honor Aaron in my heart and mind, but being somewhere so different will help me begin to find a new normal. After all, our birthday is the last of the “firsts” I have to go through.
The morning of Aaron’s death, I was playing host to Alex, my visiting doctor friend from Scotland. Sitting on the foot of the guest room bed, I was talking with Alex, who was laying under the sheets. I do not remember anything we were talking about right before the call, but it must have been about our trip to Hollywood the day before. Since this was Alex’s first time to Southern California, I wanted to make sure he got to see all the good (the weather; the beaches) and the bad (grimy Hollywood; traffic galore) of where I call home. He had been staying with me for eight days when I got the call from Bob regarding Aaron. I know that recalling certain events, especially under the pressure of extreme fear, grief and confusion, can be a little bit fuzzy at best. My favorite crime shows will tell me that 60% of what a witness actually recalls seeing is muddled by a host of mental, physical and arbitrary circumstances. Kinsey Millhone, Sue Grafton’s fascinating detective in the Alphabet Mystery Series, has always dealt with unreliable (or surly) witnesses. But, I’m sure any real life detective will have heard a gazillion times before, but I remember the morning of September 28. My phone vibrated at 6:00 am with Bob’s picture displaying on my iPhone. It was weird to have him call me, especially that early, so I answered. “Bryan, it’s really bad. It’s really, really bad” was what he told me first. I guess I should stop for a second to mention that none of this is easy to write about. I’m a writer, and I’ve written about a ton of difficult situations. But they were always someone else’s situation. Never my own. Never about my own twin brother’s early death. Bob spoke to me for a few more minutes: Aaron was unconscious, being transported to the hospital, with Bob in tow. I called mom and dad, perpetuating that idea that calls happening after midnight but before 7:00 am are never about good news. Having mom pick up that phone in San Mateo, California, some 350 miles away from me, and telling her that Aaron might not survive this whatever the fuck happened to him, haunts my mind to this day. She hung up with me, called Bob where the doctor at the hospital told them both that my brother had died. Mom called me to tell me and I hung up and crawled into Alex’s bed.
Without a Twin Six months ago my identical twin brother, Aaron Farmer, died of a massive heart attack. We were only 40. It was a basic Wednesday morning filled with showering, teeth brushing and breakfast. As a high school math teacher, Aaron would need to leave by 6:30 a.m. in order to make it to the campus in time to start meeting with some of his students. However, by 6:15 am he was dead. I know it goes without saying that this day changed my life. September 28 now lives in with me forever like my Nancy Drew tattoo, only the tattoo is something I wanted. I’ve also found that I think of things in terms of Before Aaron and After Aaron. A before and after form of reasoning and recalling that has weirdly shaped remembrances and the future. Aaron and his partner, Bob, got their dog, Opie, four days BEFORE Aaron’s passing. Opie’s first vet appointment happened a week AFTER Aaron’s passing. It’s like two different recipe boxes, but instead of containing grandma’s top-secret formula for making red velvet cupcakes with real vanilla frostings, they are holding separate timelines. This blog will serve as that recipe box, with each entry toggling between time, memories and our adventures. Much like Pulp Fiction did with storytelling (and I can’t believe I’m even thinking about Pulp Fiction while I write this), this blog will bounce around. Have a great day, Bryan