Posts tagged ‘death’

July 28, 2010

My Funeral

I strongly want this to be read at my funeral:

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively outnumbers the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds, it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow

Since the first time I heard Dawkins speak these words in his beautiful manner, I knew it was what I wanted to be read at my funeral, even though I never really gave much thought to that before. But when I heard these words, I just knew that’s what I wanted. I then found out that Dawkins himself wants this (plus a little more) read at his own funeral.

I’m not planning on dying anytime soon. Life is good and I hope to continue a long, healthy, happy life. 🙂  But I figured I’d put this out there so that when I eventually do pass away, my wishes will be on record. I also don’t want any religious or supernatural traditions in my funeral whatsoever. This means that I don’t want any prayer or any mention of an afterlife or a god at my funeral. (However, what a person wants to do in private is up to him or her). I’m mentioning this because I’ve had some loved ones pass away who had funerals that were very different from the persons they were. So I want it to be clear that I don’t want my funeral to be religious and I want that to be read. Other than that, do what you want. I’ll be dead, so I guess I won’t know what you end up doing anyway, haha. 

Tags: ,
September 2, 2009

In Remembrance of Bryan B

On August 22nd, Bryan B passed away. He was a close friend of mine and he positively changed my life in many different ways. He was certainly taken from this world far too soon. I miss him terribly. I will never meet anyone else like him.

Here are some photos of Bryan. All of them were taken by Jim Lucio:

May 29, 2005

Bryan Burken
80s Prom Night at the Ottobar. June 2005.

The final Underground at the Ottobar. November 2006.

This was also taken outside the Ottobar the same night.
I remember I was standing in front of him while it was being taken.

Update – New Photographs added September 23, 2009:

There is also a video tribute to Bryan here: Video in Memory of Bryan Burken

November 28, 2007

Reflecting about Mike Q

As I mentioned about a week and a half ago, I finally found out the reason Mike Q passed away. When I found out, it was almost like finding out he died all over again. Well, it wasn’t fully as bad, but about half. That’s still bad enough. I had to process almost everything all over again. It made me ponder everything. But I’m glad I know. I feel a lot better and a lot of questions have been answered.

After he died, the most his friends heard was when his aunt posted on his MySpace profile that his father found him next to his computer over Labor Day weekend. She said that was all they knew. People weren’t sure if they really didn’t know more or if they just didn’t want to say. We would understand if they didn’t feel like talking about it yet. They were (and still are) going through something very painful. But we all wanted to know. Most people just assumed it was drugs. It was thought that he probably overdosed, went to sleep, and never awoke.

Let me tell you the abridged version of my friendship with Mike. We met in 1999 at the Brass Monkey. My friend, Andrea Schwager, was in town and so we were hanging out in Fells Point, looking for something to do. I ran into my friend, Tim Kaye who told us that we should walk over to the Brass Monkey to check out this band called Velvasheen. I heard good things about them, so we decided to go. My eye was instantly drawn to Mike from the moment I walked in the room. I didn’t know at that moment who he was. But he just had this magnetic personality that you could feel from across the room, even if you weren’t talking to him. Moments later, I saw his band play and thought they were great. We met, talked, exchanged contact information. After the show, we got to know each other and became close friends very quickly. We hung out often, shared secrets and not so serious tidbits of our lives. We discussed music. We went to shows together. He used to play solo open mic at the 8×10 every week back then. I almost always went with him. There are a lot of good times we had there. We jammed on music together. He remixed one of my songs. He convinced me to go by “CherryTeresa”. We went to Ocean City together for my senior week. (I could write an entry on just the stuff that went happened when we went there. Crazy stuff! Haha). I lived with him temporarily when I was going through some rough times.

Like many other people in this world, Mike had experimented with drugs. But he started doing it more often and dabbling with more dangerous substances. Slowly, there was a change in Mike’s personality. He became harder and harder to reason with. Sometimes I felt like I was not talking to the same person I knew before. He eventually never wanted to go out. It wasn’t a temporary hermit thing. He stayed like that for a while. So for a few years, I barely saw him. If he went a while without talking, he would get back in touch with me eventually. I would hang out with him here and there. Sometimes it was just because we coincidentally ran into each other. Other times, we planned it. But it was always so good to see him and we always enjoyed seeing each other again.

Then, for a couple years, I did not see him or even hear from him. I heard he was addicted to heroin and not going out much because of that. But out of nowhere, he contacted me and asked me if I needed a job because he was working for Apple Tech Support and knew I would love that job. I got the job and even though we worked in different departments and had different schedules, he would make sure to either come visit me or sneak out during my breaks to see me. When I saw him, one of the first things I noticed was that he had gained a lot of weight. But I was happy about that. Why? Because most heroin addicts I know gain weight when they first get clean. He seemed alive again. So enthusiastic. He was that acting more like the magnetic person I had first met that night when I was still in high school.

I lost touch with him and other people at that company. I had to stop working there due to my health issues at the time. And shortly after, they laid off a ton of people. (Apple decided to move their tech support to India for U.S. customers, which didn’t last long. Now they’re back in America).

I saw him a few months later because he came to visit me. I never asked him if he did heroin or confronted him about his past drug problems. But he told me what happened. He told me how he was addicted to heroin and how he realized how it was ruining his life. He was on a methadone program. He said he was determined to turn his life around. The thing that worried me was that he was obviously abusing the methadone and not just taking is as prescribed. He pretty much told me that.

But he eventually did end up turning his life around. Earlier this year, he went to rehab and got off the methadone. He was clean. He was doing well at the job where he started working. He was making music again. He re-connected with a cool girl who he was dating. He had plans and goals and it seemed like he would achieve them. He was planning on moving to New York. He did get into debt because of some issues that happened while he was on drugs. He fell asleep at the wheel because of the methadone, so there were legal bills. He had health/teeth problems caused by his drug abuse. All that stuff was pretty depressing and enough to make someone want to give up on life. It could make someone want to just say “screw it” and do drugs again. But he didn’t. He was fighting the odds and winning.

But then he died. No one knew what happened, but figured the logical explanation was: He must have relapsed. It was Labor Day weekend. He probably wanted to have a good time. His tolerance went down because he stopped using. He took too much. He got sleepy as opiates tend to make people that way. He laid his head down on his desk and never awoke.

He lived in his father’s basement. His father is the one who found him. It turns out that after he called 9-1-1 and the police showed up, they searched the place for about six or seven hours. They found no drugs there at all. His family also searched the place afterwards. Nothing turned up.

The toxicology results showed that there were no drugs in his system. They then ran other tests and eventually the results showed that he had died of acute bronchial pneumonia and that his lungs were filled with fluids. I am guessing that the past drug use didn’t exactly help his overall health or immune system. His basement also flooded a few months earlier, which may have contributed to that.

But the point was that he didn’t directly die because of drugs. When I first found that out, I felt so relieved. But part of me was thinking “What does it matter? He still died.” And I felt like it was almost worse that he didn’t relapse. He went through all that work to better himself and he died anyway. I just kept thinking about all the things that could have been and probably would have been. And I thought about the fact that there are at least two people I know who died after kicking heroin.

What saddens me is that I didn’t see him in the last few months of his life. He would try to get back in touch with me but I pretty much ignored him because I had almost given up on him. I didn’t know that he had went to rehab and I assumed he was still in drugs. The last time I saw him, he was acting like the weird druggie again and not himself. I used to try to save people but it never worked and only caused me frustration. I decided to distance myself from him. I feel awful. I just wish he would have told me he was clean. I wish I would responded to him more. One thing that does make me feel a lot better is that Becky (the girl he was dating before he died) told me that he talked about me often as if we were still in touch and he had nothing but positive things to say about me. She said she had no idea we lost touch by the way he would talk about me. So I’m glad to know he didn’t seem to resent me for that. But I still wish I could have been around him, especially since he probably was the old Mike Q again and acting like that.

Mike, I truly miss you and I am sorry I didn’t believe in you more toward the end. You were such a good friend to me. You did so many wonderful things for me. I never asked, but you did them anyway. I never even came close to repaying you and for that, I am a jerk. Please know that I do think about the real you – the you that the world saw when you were clean. I remember the good times more than the bad. I think about you a lot. I always have. You have influenced me in many ways. I am still somewhat in denial that you passed away. Part of that is because you are still a part of my life.

Tags: ,
November 20, 2007

I killed a bunny last night

    Saturday night was the Lennex show at the Stone Cellar in Ellicott City. Do I need to describe that I had a good time? No. That’s a given.
    I went to Fletcher’s last night to see Oddzar and Truth Be Told. Great music and fun times. The place had a good amount of people for a Monday night, but it wasn’t packed. But it was better that way. Quality over quantity. For real. A lot of the people who went to the Lennex show were there.
    Of course, I did my typical “I’m leaving after the bands are done! I have to work tomorrow” thing. Then it was “Okay, I’ll go downstairs. But only for a minute!” And eventually it was “Well, it’s 1:30, I might as well stay until close”. And then the “I shouldn’t be outside talking, I will only get a few hours of sleep” situation happened. At least I turned down going to some of the afterparties.
Mike Miller from gODHEAD showed up later. He was hanging out downstairs. He’s a nice guy. gODHEAD are on tour with Jonathan Davis and played at the 9:30 Club earlier that night. They’re playing an acoustic set Thanksgiving evening at Fletcher’s (not with Jonathan Davis) and I’ll be there. I’m looking forward to it.
    I was in a great mood all night. But during the drive home, I hit a bunny! I tried not to hit him, but he just ran so quickly that even though I braked and swerved, it didn’t do any good. Still, I’m not happy about that. I’m surprised it was a bunny. I haven’t seen too many in that area of Mount Washington before. I’ve actually been slightly worried that I might hit a deer or fox because they are everywhere in my neighborhood since they turned the golf course and the quarry into neighborhoods for the wealthy. The animals’ homes are gone now and so they just run into the street. I feel badly for the animals, especially since they are so cute! Haha, I know it shouldn’t matter what they look like. But still, it makes it even sadder. I didn’t even know there were foxes in this area until they built those $600,000 houses. Rich people ruining everything! (JK). 

Edit (4:04 PM EST) – I forgot to mention that I won the Retarded Dance Contest last night. I know that’s not a politically correct name for something, but I didn’t make up the name. And I should mention I didn’t have much competition haha.

November 17, 2007

Mike Q update

I found out how my friend Mike Q died. He’s the one who passed away on Labor Day.  It took a long time for the autopsy reports to be completed. He died of acute bronchial pneumonia.
At least I know now.      

I will always remember how he lived more than how he died.                                                                                      

Tags: ,
September 6, 2007

Horrible news and good news

Things have been busy and hectic for me.

Horrible news – A good friend of mine, Michael Sean Quental – better known as Mike Q of Velvasheen – died on Monday evening. I don’t know too many details right now. But this is very upsetting. He was only 27. We were pretty close at one point in time. Some of you may know that he re-mixed of my songs.  I lived with him temporarily. We went to Ocean City together. And we had just tons of other random memories. His viewing is tonight. Sorry to those of you who have been emailing me or sending me myspace/facebook messages that I haven’t responded to yet. I won’t be able to respond for at least a few more days.

Mike Q and I at his house circa 2001.

Good news – School is going well. I like it. It’s a lot of work and my four hour class is long, but I like being busy.
Also, I am going to be collaborating with some really awesome musicians in the very near future and performing with them. This is in the very beginning stages, but I am optimistic. More details soon.


August 7, 2007

Random Nelly Furtado Dream

I had a random dream Saturday night that Nelly Furtado died. I don’t have anything against her and I don’t think about her much since her first and second albums came out. I have her song “Powerless” in my iTunes, but I haven’t heard that in at least a week. So this was pretty random. I mean, I even saw it on the news and everything (in the dream). I had to double-check online to make sure she wasn’t really dead.

August 19, 2005

Current Events

With the cost of gas so high right now, I really wish I wasn’t scared to ride a motorcycle. Sure would save a lot of money on gas. And my car can’t run on ethanol. Maybe all cars should. It’s made out of corn. Farmers would be making a lot more money. They are in a constant struggle to make profits. And if they do, that can change in an instant. And corn is a renewable resource. Let’s make more cars run on ethanol! Then maybe we wouldn’t be fighting over oil so much. Lots of cars already can run on ethanol (E85 – which is 85% ethanol, 15% gas) and their owners don’t even know it. Unfortunately, right now there are only a few gas stations in Maryland that offer this alternative. For more info and to see if your car can use this money saving (and more environmentally friendly) alternative to regular gas, you can go to

So my friend David who died earlier this year was on my tv screen a couple nights ago unexpectedly. I was watching the news and they showed local protesters of the war in Iraq. There was a woman I’d never seen before and had this poster that was a collage of pictures of David. I was just semi-day dreaming. In la la land. And out of nowhere saw his face and emotion just came over me.

They said it was his mother. Then I realized it was his step mother and that’s why I’d never met her. When he and I were hanging out, he had no mother in his life. At least in the physical sense. His mother had recently died of cancer – breast cancer I believe. And he struggled a lot with that. But he still stayed strong. I dunno, it’s just kind of sad. This was a good friend of mine at one point in time who I knew had a lot of hidden pains. But he didn’t usually let that get the best of him. At least he didn’t let people know it. When people die, I always hope that they made peace with the hard things they’ve dealt with in their lives. But it’s hard to imagine if he had made any peace when he was at war and that’s how he died. And he was so young.

I go from that thinking and the outrage of this war. But then I watched the Today Show. And they showed strong men and women who are out there fighting. Who want to be there. And say that they don’t want to pull out of the war yet. That they want to make sure they finish what was started. And you could see they had this sincere sense of pride and purpose there. That even though they are in an extremely chaotic environment full of uncertain outcomes, they brave the 100+ degree weather strapped in pounds and pounds of gear, ready and willing to help the people in Iraq that are defenseless. So it’s kind of weird to see the two different sides of war. You see the families and friends that are completely torn apart when someone they are close to is fighting a war. But then you see troops that are willing to put up with unimaginable stress and harsh conditions to help fight for our country. I mean, whether or not you support the war it’s hard not to be so proud of them for their complete selflessness.

I didn’t talk to David in the couple of years prior to his death. I don’t know if he hated being there in the war. Or if he was one of the troops who faced each day as if he was blessed to be able to help people. Maybe if he was one of the ones who wanted to be there, then maybe in some strange way he did die in peace. But then again, when I knew him his family was sort of bohemian. And so was he. So I don’t think I’ll ever know. That outlook in life could be taken either way really when it comes to how you feel about the evils of war vs. helping save people.

I didn’t agree with this war from the beginning. But now I’m really mixed on how I feel we should handle it now that we’re at this point. Of course I empathize with the troops and their loved ones who everyday have to live with the stress of not knowing if they will come home alive. And I don’t know if there will be a “civil” ending to all of this. But at the same time… although I didn’t agree with us going there in the first place, now that we’re there, we shouldn’t leave things worse off than they were before we got there. Sure there is progress being made in the sense that they are working on a constitution. They finally got the chance to elect a leader. But to just leave the citizens there with all the chaos and everyday terrorism that has escalated since we got there without a resolution would be horrible as well.

Arsehole Astrology

December 1, 2004

Friend of mine dies in war

ANOTHER friend of mine is dead. A good friend of mine from when I was in middle school died fighting this stupid war. We used to chill like everyday at at his house back when I lived in Mt. Washington. And now he’s gone.

I miss you David Branning and I’m sorry that you had to be a part of this unnecessary war. And that you lost your LIFE doing so. We love you.

March 29, 2004

News article about my friend

[4:36 pm]
Mood  sad


Pikesville man killed in car accident on I-695 inner loop

WOODLAWN – A 23-year-old Pikesville man was killed early yesterday after he lost control of his Ford Focus on the Beltway’s inner loop in Woodlawn and barreled into two other cars, state police reported.

The victim, Charles Michael Smith of the 500 block of Marshall Ave., was trapped in the car, which flipped several times and came to rest partially on a concrete barrier between the inner and outer loops at the Interstate 70 exit, said Tfc. Tyrone Powell. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

One of the cars involved in the crash shortly before 12:40 a.m. – a Mazda 626 driven by Sean Ross, 19, of Catonsville – also overturned several times before landing upside-down on the right shoulder, Powell said. Ross and his passenger, Teneill Wilson, 19, of Randallstown, were taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Ross was released and Wilson was reported in serious condition. The occupants of the third car, a Buick Park Avenue, were treated at the scene, police said.