Geeks Vs Loneliness: the loss of a sibling

Jo tells us about her brother, and the pain of losing him...

If it’s all the same, we’re going to skip our usual intro to Geeks Vs Loneliness this week. Instead, we’re handing straight over to the brilliant Jodie. We’re proud to be able to run her words on our site. And we’re sending her a massive hug.

A perfectly innocent and heart-warming cartoon on the internet triggered me today. It depicted a young girl reminiscing about playing video games with her older brother, and how they eventually got their old gaming systems out of storage to play again. By the time I’d swiped through all the panels, my phone screen had become blurry with my tears. I had to put it down and take a few moments to breathe. I swiped through it a second time and decided to challenge myself into writing something about how I feel, and openly share some of the nonsense my brother and I used to get up to, while gaming. It’s taken almost the whole day to pick up my laptop and get hammering away on the keys, so here we go.

Five years ago, I lost my older brother in a road traffic accident, the single most painful experience of my life, so far. I went through months of torture, clearing out his room, funeral arrangements, talking to the newspaper, it was one thing after another, an endless stream of agony and metaphorical punches. I barely had time to think, and for the most part, hid my pain, doing all the classics like making jokes and crying on my own, worried people might think I should just ‘pull myself together and get on with life.’

Well the truth is I haven’t, and probably never will pull myself together, so sorry Great British public and your general ideals. I deal with it, one day at a time. Five years later, I’m still dealing with it, and clearly certain things trigger me, like the above mentioned cartoon.

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My brother was always someone I could rely on to game with. Being a girl, growing up in the 90s, games weren’t exactly the ‘cool’ thing for me to be doing. I distinctly remember the ‘popular’ kids at school mocking me by telling me that I fancied Sonic, and I was in love with Sonic. Idiots, if they knew anything about me they’d have known Super Sonic and Knuckles the Echidna were my jam, but that’s another tale altogether.

Anyway, with my brother, I could just get on with it and be myself. We often played Sonic 2 vs mode, and generally he’d let me be Sonic (I wasn’t a fan of Tails.) We were pretty evenly matched, yet, he always had a secret weapon to deploy when we raced through the Special Stage. If he started doing slightly better than me, to put me off and cement his victory, he’d start singing the special stage music. It was so annoying and totally brought out the Raphael in me! Whenever this tactic was used, his victory was assured and as the results screen popped, he could chant “Win! Win! Win! Loooosseeeee!” As I ground my teeth into furious dust.

When we graduated from the Megadrive to the Playstation, he used a similar tactic while playing Tekken. His character of choice was Paul Phoenix, and to put me off, he would mutter the mantra, ‘Paul will never be defeated. Paul will never be defeated. Paul will never be defeated,’ over and over again. As a result, I’d get angry and more often than not, lose! I never seemed to learn.

We used to play what we called a ‘Battle Royale Super Deluxe,’ on Tekken, a mode we created. This could only happen once all the characters were unlocked. What we’d do is fight each other as the same character, until we’d gone through them all, to discover which of us was the true Tekken master. The advantage to this sort of battle meant I’d only hear the Paul Phoenix mantra once!

We also played through the Tomb Raider and Resident Evil games together, these games bring back some of my fondest memories, sitting in the dark, being scared and eating all the chocolate in the room to block out the nightmare fuel I was playing with. Aside from games, my brother also taught me the importance of how something could be so bad, it’s actually good. We spent a summer watching episodes of the James Bond Jr cartoon, just because it was so laughably bad. As a result of this, my adult self developed a penchant for films that are so bad, they go beyond bad and back to good again. I see this as a gift passed down, and something I’ll forever be grateful for.

Eventually, we both grew older and moved out of home, he went south and I went north. I remember visiting him and absolutely destroying him on Soul Calibur, I’m proud to say I only lost once all night, no Paul Phoenix to hide behind in that game, bro! With the advent of online gaming, and with Resident Evil Five being out for some time I started talking him into getting a 360, selling it with the fact that we could play Resy together again! He told me he’d play on mine in the summer, then decide what to do. Unfortunately he didn’t get round to playing on my console, as he was killed a few weeks after that conversation.

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To this day, I still struggle with my feelings and emotions. I can sometimes fondly reminisce about the Megadrive and Playstation days, with my brother at my side, guiding and giving me severe beats through the world of gaming. During these moments I can sit back, smile and be appreciative for the times we had together, knowing how special and unique our relationship was.¬†Whether we were solving puzzles in Resy or beating the hell out of each other in fury of Tekken fists. Though sometimes the thoughts take a dark turn, and I can get stuck in the loop of how it isn’t fair that he’s gone, and how utterly heartbreaking it is, that I cannot make anymore memories with him. It becomes frustrating, unbelievably painful and difficult to deal with. I’m still searching for a way to fully cope, when these black clouds of pain descend upon me.

For now I’m taking it a day at a time, a therapy session a week, and maybe I’ll treat myself to Tekken 7.

For writing this article, we’re going to be sending Jodie a copy of Tekken 7. Thanks, as always, for reading.