The last time I saw my brother Matt alive was at our annual Halloween party last year. As always, his costume was incredible, and he even managed to reuse some of his famous clown costume to transform himself into a rodeo clown. Thankfully, our friend John gathered us all together before the party began to take a few photographs.
The photograph on the table above was from that day. I had posted it on my Facebook account, and my brother unbeknownst to me, had copied it and arranged to have it shipped to him. My mother discovered it in his mail the day after his death. I don’t think I can even began to describe how much this photo means to me. I keep it on an end table in our living room, so that I can see it each time I go upstairs, and remember him for the fun loving artistic character that he was.
My brother truly looked forward to and loved Halloween, and was always great at coming up with original costumes. Even on the occasions when he copped out and purchased a store-bought costume, he always managed to make it his own. While going through Matt’s house, we stumbled upon most of his costumes from years gone by. I decided to keep his clown jacket and shoes, unable to bear the thought of them ending up in yet another pile of his items to be sold or donated, and had plans to wear them at the party this year in his memory.
However, when it came close to the date, I realized that there was no way that I would be able to wear that costume for an entire evening without completely bawling my eyes out every few minutes. Instead, I decided to pay tribute to my brother by sharing pictures from Halloween parties from years gone by, and asking people to honor his memory by taking a shot of whiskey, which we inherited from Matt’s vast Jack Daniel’s collection.
While to some people it might appear morbid, it somehow felt right that we should dress a skeleton up in Matt’s clown costume as well; I truly do believe he would have loved that. After discovering a Mario cap and Fred Flintstone wig above our garage while rooting around before the party, I threw them on the skeleton as well. They were pieces from Matt’s previous costumes, which Bob had grabbed without me knowing, as we were cleaning out Matt’s home in Madison.
At the end of the night, I was touched by all of the kind words partygoers shared with me, the amount of people that traveled to our home to share in the celebration, and that the bottle of Jack Daniel’s was near empty. Spending the evening remembering, acknowledging, and celebrating “my favorite clown” really helped get me through what would otherwise have been a difficult night.
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