Tragedy Can Inspire

Dear Joe,

If you're reading this then my feelings were right and something has happened to me and that something is that I'm dead ... Joe, I have a job for you, and only you. There is someone I need you to take care of for me."

That was the letter that changed Joe's life. The letter that asked him to take care of someone else instead of being taken care of. And without realizing it, what started as a favour to a lost treasured friend became the biggest gift he would ever receive. And sometimes, tragedy can inspire.

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2. Pain At Night

Everyone had gone into the hospital room except for Joe.  He didn’t want to remember Craig with tubes and wires, cut and damaged.  He wanted to remember him when he was happy rocking out on the drums with him and his brother every night.

After everyone had said their goodbyes, they divided into two groups.  They were in Dallas so the band members piled into the cars that would take them back to the hotel rooms the group had rented for them near the rehearsal space.  Joe, his brothers and his parents took separate cars and returned to the house they had just purchased.

When Joe and his family reached the large new house, they quietly walked up the walkway to the front door.  Joe remembered when he, Nick and Kevin had first seen this house.  It had been the first big purchase for any of them and after talking about it; they had figured that there was no point in buying three separate fabulous houses, especially when they wouldn’t be there very much.  The real estate agent had told them it was perfect for them and when they had walked in, she was right.  It was large enough that each of them had their own space but was perfect for hanging out together if they wanted.  Their parents had resisted it at first, especially with Nick only being 17 but had relented when the boys had convinced them they needed some space of their own.
The group remained quiet when they came into the large hallway.  No one knew quite what to say.  The night had been so exhausting and it would only be another long day tomorrow. 

Joe’s father broke the moment.

“Boys, I know we are all in shock about this.”  Tears threatened to spill out the corners of his eyes.  “But we need to stay together as a family now, to take care of each other.  I think we should all go to bed and get some sleep.  We will have a lot to do tomorrow.”

“Who’s going to tell Frankie?”  Joe asked his father this question.  Joe’s third brother was the youngest of all of them.  His parents had decided that the party would be too late for Frankie and so he had stayed at home with a babysitter.  Both of them were in bed now.

“We’ll talk to him in the morning.  Let him sleep now.” 

“He’ll be so heartbroken,” Joe said.  Craig had always paid special attention to the youngest Jonas, including him in rehearsals and group events.  He seemed to understand that Frankie could be lost in the shuffle at times, no matter how hard his parents tried.

“I know Joe.  Everyone will struggle with this.  But we will deal with this as a family just as we have everything else.”  He stepped forward and wrapped his son in a hug.  Joe finally let some tears fall on his father’s shoulder.  “I know you two were close.  You can come talk to me or your mom any time you want son.”

Kevin stepped towards them and joined in the hug.

“You can talk to me if you need to too Joe.” 

And then it was a family hug with Nick and his mom joining in.  The five of them stood in the hall and mourned the loss of a friend. 

*************

Joe didn’t know how long they stood there but gradually the hug broke up and everyone went to their separate rooms.  Joe’s was located on the ground floor, at the back of the house.  Joe had chosen this room because it was private.  Now the silence was horrible.

He crashed in his bed, not bothering to change his clothes.  He tried to sleep but found his mind wandering back to go over even the minutest memories of Craig.  It had been an unlikely friendship from the start.  Craig had auditioned for the band as a drummer after they had signed with the new record company.  At first, he seemed a little too rough around the edges to fit in but he was the only one who auditioned who could keep up with Nick. 

At first, Joe had ignored the new guy, hanging out with his brothers and with his friends.  But things had changed after he had run into him in an empty hallway.

Flashback

Joe walked down the hall of the small venue they were playing in, his ipod blaring in his ears.  The newest Switchfoot song was playing and he wasn’t paying attention to where he was going.  He needed some time for himself.  The schedule for the last few weeks had been busy and long with shows, photo shoots, radio events and fan sessions everyday.  Nick and Kevin had revelled in it but Joe felt like he was just along for the ride.

As he turned the corner into another random hallway, he ran into another person turning the same corner.  Joe looked up from the screen of his ipd.

“Hey man, watch where you’re going.”  Joe glared at the person in front of him before realizing it was Craig, the new drummer.

“Sorry Danger, I was just trying to find out where the washroom was in this place.”
Danger was Joe’s nickname and it was well deserved.  He was a walking accident.

“Yeah, I know what you mean.  I can’t imagine trying to find my way around Madison Square Garden if we end up ever getting there.”  Joe pulled teh earphones out and hung them behind his neck.  “I think its down the hall to the left.  You better hit it before the show.  You won’t be able to take a break after that.”

“Exactly."

Joe believed the encounter was over then, a short conversation with a guy from the band.  But it wasn’t.

“Hey Joe.”  Craig’s voice echoed down the hall.  I just wanted to let you know, that new song you’re writing sounds great.”

“New song?”

“Yeah, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I heard you strumming onyour guitar in the green room yesterday.”  Craig didn’t look embarrassed, not in awe of all things Jonas.  And Joe suddenly appreciated it.  “I’d love to hear the finished version.  You have some great talent.”

“Thanks man.”  Joe turned again and headed towards the area where his brothers were.  He felt like rocking out again.

Joe and Craig had hung out after the show that night and most nights after.  They seemed to connect on a level that worked.  Joe was able to vent his frustrations about his life and through Craig, he rediscovered the passion he had for the music.

Joe heard a light tap on his door and sat himself up on his bed.

“Come in,” he said, his voice raw with emotion.

Kevin poked his head into the room and gave Joe a tired and worn smile. 

“Wanna talk?”

“Not really.”

“Can I come in?”

Joe didn’t really want company at the moment but he also knew that Kevin would want to talk.

“Yeah, grab a corner.”

“Thanks.”  Kevin came in but didn’t say anything for a few minutes.  His eyes were lost in something but he wasn’t sharing.

“Kev, you came in here for a reason.  What is it?”  Joe didn’t mean to be so harsh, he just wasn’t in the mood to play guessing games.

Finally Kevin spoke.  “I just can’t believe that he’s gone.  We were going to start the tour in a week and he was the most excited of anybody at times.”  A tear fell on his cheek and Joe felt his heart clench at his brother’s pain.  “I know you guys were the closest and I am so sorry.  Whatever you need, you know I’m there.”

Joe cringed at that as well.  He was the one who had sent his closest friend to his death.

There was a second tap on the door.  Joe knew exactly who it was.

“Come in, Nick.”

Nick’s curly hair poked through the door as well.

“Do you guys mind if I come in?  I couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to be alone.”  Nick was younger then Joe and Joe felt very protective of him.

“Yeah man, come on in.  I think I still have a square of bed left.”

Nick came in and sat on the bed, playing with the sheets nervously.  Kevin took his hands and stilled them.

“It’s okay Nick.  We’re all in shock.  But we’lll get through this together, just like we have the last year.”

Nick looked up at the two of them and Joe was shocked by the pain in them.

“We let him die.”

“No we didn’t.”  Kevin’s voice choked on emotion.  “He was already dead.  He wouldn’t want to be alive only because he was hooked up to machines.”

“Kevin’s right.”  Joe spoke this time, wanting to console his brother.  “Remember what he always said.  If you can’t rock in your life, it ain’t worth living.”

“But ...”

“Nick, you have to remember him as he was.  Like the fact that it took you guys millions of practise tosses to get the drum stick right.  That is what he should be to us.” 

The three brothers started to reminisce about their friend.  Funny moments and sad moments and everything in between.  The three of them fell asleep in Joe’s room, not able to be alone.

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