Dear Ms. Sister,
unfortunately I have to bring you sad news.
Mr. Thomas Brother was found dead in his apartment in X-City on 15.12.2014.
From his paper work no next of kin could be determined so that I was appointed as curator for your deceased brother’s estate. …
Your brother has been cremated under order of the city council. Copy of order attached.
His urn has not been buried yet and you can decide where to bury the urn.
Unfortunately I have to also inform you that his estate is in debt and have to therefore advise you to reject the inheritance.
Please inform me of any other family and addresses.
The contact details of the morgue are…
With kind regards,
Mrs. Ice Cold Curator
I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your last email, I don’t even know why I didn’t reply. Maybe I expected to see you, but then life just keeps happening and we always assume next time, next time… And maybe I was upset that you couldn’t come to the concert I invited you to. Apart from being busy you were also honest enough to say that this wasn’t your type of music. But I got us on the guest list, with backstage meeting the artist I worked with. I wanted you to be proud of me.
But I have no right to be cross. I didn’t pay much attention to your 20 page business plan you sent me, maybe you wanted me to be proud of you. And I was, but it didn’t cross my mind to say something. I just replied that your business plan looks impressive but reads like Chinese to me as I don’t understand business language. I’m sorry I never told you how impressed I was, how proud that you had the courage to start a business. I could never do that, I’m too cowardly to start something like that. It takes a lot of courage, strength and determination to start a business. I always played it safe, just being employed and do my real passions and hobbies in my private life. You went further and gave it a go. But being employed did me no good after all. And now I don’t even have the courage for regular employment.
Can you believe the email this woman sent? She didn’t try to find out my phone number or mum’s address she lived at for 30+ years, in a country with a high sophisticated ID system where everyone is registered under law. She didn’t email and ask me to phone her or give my phone number and warn or prepare me that I urgently need to get in contact as she had to inform me about you. She just wrote a few sentences in a typical German efficient and straightforward way. No-nonsense, not wasting time, tell it like it is, no mercy. And she made sure she covered everything in one email. I cannot describe the hell, I cannot describe it. A huge hand of a monster thrust inside my gut and ripped it out in one fast move.
Do you know that the next day when I flew over to tell mum that you were gone, I called this woman but she didn’t want to give any more info. She sounded nervous, was upset that I called her at 9pm and said that she had no further information and that her husband is getting impatient in the background.
Do you know why? Why was she so short-cut and angry that I called? I kept calling the police, but they had no answer either. I am still confused. Why did the police handle this so poorly, why could they not give me a clear cause of death and couldn’t answer my list of questions? The only explanation the police guy gave me of why they didn’t do an autopsy was that they ruled out fowl play and suicide, and once they ruled out especially murder, they hand the case back to the coroner and close it on their file. Just like that. They have many cases to work on. A former police detective who was a customer of mine confirmed that if they don’t find anything suspicious, they just close the case as it would otherwise involve too much paper work. He told me that deaths in flats happen more often than we think. I’m sure if one of their family members was found like this, they’d go to town to find the cause. But there weren’t able to tell me what you died of. And they frankly didn’t care.
Everyone since then keeps telling me to not pursue any legal action as this would just add to the turmoil and the police always covers themselves. I had to put puzzle pieces together, with bits and pieces of information from your neighbours, your ex-girl friend C. etc. If you could hear me, I wouldn’t tell you that they sent your urn from your city to mum’s village council via post! Via post, Thomas. I’m sorry, I didn’t know they’d do that in Germany. If I’d knew they send urns via post, I’d made arrangements with the funeral service who arranged the funeral later, to bring it over in a dignified way. No one told me they send urns via post. I didn’t know so many things they’d do. I’m sorry, everything was a mess. Everything. Your three cats survived and they were able to catch two, but the third slipped through the door. I don’t know which one, but your neighbour said that she sees the cat outside sometimes, but it won’t let anyone catch it. I’m sorry your cats went through the six days seeing you lie there.
The police said that they rampaged your apartment. I know how clean you liked it, we had to take our shoes off, like in my place as well. But after you died, the cats just rampaged. They must have been distressed, the mum and her two kitties. The mum-cat in this picture you sent me before she had kittens, I wish I knew where she is. I’m sorry.
I dislike this country of ours. And if it wasn’t for mum, I’d never return. I buried dad in March, near you.
I saw an amazing play yesterday, Bury the Dead in which six soldiers who fell in a war refused to be buried. They got up from the ground where soldiers were digging out graves, but they just stood up and refused to be buried because they died too young. They died under the lies of the leaders who brainwashed them to fight and die for “honour”.
But they were too young to die and haven’t seen the world yet, or haven’t had the chance to start a family, or couldn’t finish that university degree they started before getting drafted. I wept through half the play and imagined you to refuse to be cremated until we got the news that your corpse was in the cold chamber. But then I thought if they would have found us before cremating you, mum may have wanted to see you. But what does a six day old corpse look like? Once an image is ingrained in the mind, it will never leave.
I wanted her to keep you in memory of this last photo she took of you a year before you died.
You look annoyed as usual of her taking photos all the time. I had to forbid mum to go to the police station as they spoke about photos they took when they found you. The way they handled your death and case, I panicked they would show her the photos. Mum was extremely angry that you didn’t have her address and phone number in your flat. I had to explain to her that I don’t have that either as we live in the Internet age and we know her address and number by heart, as she lives there since over 30 years. She slowly accepted that.
I’ve written you many emails since until your account was shut for lack of you logging in and sending emails. I kept writing though and my emails bounced back as if you replied. But getting “Mailer-Daemon” responses wore me out.
Remember when you visited me in London and I showed you around? We took the tube to Tower Bridge and as we walked towards the bridge that was hidden behind the trees you asked me what “castle” this was. I said that this is the Tower Bridge. You asked, “Yes, but what castle is this?” It is the Tower Bridge I repeated. “Yeah, but what’s that castle?” Thomas, this is the Tower Bridge!!! And as we came closer where you could see the full bridge you laughed and looked at me embarrassed “Ah, yeah!”
It was one of the rare occasions that I knew something more than you did, as you were always too smart for me! I beat you on this one! Stupid, I know. I have to think of this every time I am at the Bridge.
And remember when we sat in the café by Piccadilly Circus and you called mum from your mobile pretending to be in your home? You chatted for a while with her and then just handed the phone over to me to say hi to mum! That surprise surely worked! I asked her several times since you’re gone if she can remember you calling her from London to prank her to think you were calling from your home, but she can’t remember. I don’t know if she blocked it out or if her dementia is getting worse. She’s more forgetful now, you know? But she’s doing okay. We went through rough waters these last four years. It’s normal they say.
All I know now is that I let you down.
And I don’t know how to forgive myself.
Knowing you, I know you’d forgive me, but I can’t forgive myself, Thomas.
I made this silly “video” for you, one of many, but this is the only one with a German artist. He sings about his best friend, Michael, who was like a brother to him. But his friend died. I mixed in another song of a Swiss artist and wrote my text to it. I’m not sure if these would be your taste of music, as our tastes was often very different. I am not into German much but I wanted to use German speaking artists. But you can’t see it, I know. I did it to cope. I messed up in so many ways, Thomas. I can’t forgive myself.