The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Written
The hardest thing I’ve ever written was my brother Sohrab Lutchmedial’s eulogy. It’s been six months since he passed on November 8th, 2022. That morning, in the moments after I was told of his passing I only remember screaming and crying. I only got through those moments with the support of family and friends, especially my partner Tamara. The idea of eventually being able to be articulate after what was the most raw and inarticulate moment I’ve experienced seemed an impossible feat. But I, as countless others faced with loss have had to do, found a way.
I didn’t have much time. One doesn’t for times such as these. There’s never enough time. There was so much happening. There was the business of death, the things that you have to do when someone passes. There were a lot of people around helping as much as they could, doing their best in this tragic situation. But this was a job only I could do, and I did the best that I could. Saying goodbye to one of the few people on this planet that gave me real joy and meaning to my life was impossibly hard. But I needed to honour my brother’s life in the way he would have wanted to be honoured.
I am a professional writer. I haven’t had too long or storied of a career, but it’s a job that I love. Sohrab loved that I was a storyteller, and he was my biggest champion – especially when the chips were down. If you know anything about working as a freelance artist / creator you know that the chips are frequently down. Having a big brother who always had a word of encouragement, and actively cheerleaded your work was priceless to me. I know I would have not been able to make it through some of those darker days without his love and support. How do you describe that kind of admiration, love, and loss in a few paragraphs?
Each day I would wake up early (let’s be honest, I was barely sleeping that first week anyway) and write notes and thoughts. Distilling things down to what I thought most mattered. In retrospect, I missed things. Lots of things. There is only so much time but I can’t help but wonder if I had longer and had more time to reflect, would the speech have been much different? I can’t know. I did the best I could, in the time that I had.
So much of writing, for television in particular, is doing the best you can in the time that you have. Deadlines – that word has extra meaning in this case – push you to get something down and approved so that everyone else can get on with their business. With a eulogy I think we need to just say something, something meaningful, something that helps the ones that have been left behind. They all need to get on with their business, the business of life. Whatever happens, whatever is said or not said, that’s what happens next. It’s what has to happen next.
Here’s the text of the eulogy. I did the best I could despite the tears and heartache. I hope not to get this kind of writing assignment for a good long while.
Just so you all know; I’m going to cry some more, probably a lot, but let’s see if we can get through this together, okay? I’m going to TRY to keep this next part upbeat in Sohrab’s honour, you know put the fun in funeral, that what he’d want, right bro?
Sohrab was a great man, a giant really. He was always the top of his class when he wasn’t skipping grades, driven to be the best he could be at anything he did. Growing up with that guy you’d think I would be living in his shadow. I mean, when I went to the same high school as him but seven years behind the teachers would all look at me and say, so you’re Sohrab Lutchmedials brother? Huh. It didn’t really make sense that their best student and then maybe their worst were related. But I didn’t mind. Because I didn’t live in my brothers shadow. I was his shadow. And I loved it.
I’d follow him around, nipping at his heels wherever he went. I worshiped the ground he walked on. If he liked something, I liked it. If he went somewhere was right behind him. I even tried to get my handwriting look like his. I must have been SO annoying. I couldn’t, by the way, his handwriting was, unique. He got me into comics, loving sci fi, reading fantasy, playing video games, his music, all those core interests that you take with you for the rest of your life. Thank you Sohrab for that.
One of the vivid memories I have is him siting me down at 6 and saying, okay, I’m going to teach you how to play Dungeons and Dragons. And I think that this fostered storytelling in me, which is an amazing gift. It is true that I was the only person he could play with with because he was this 12 year old nerd, but that’s beside the point.
Actually I do remember being on a train, going to visit our cousins in New York or Toronto, and Sohrab telling me I was his favourite brother, and I whined back “but I’m your only brother!” And he just smiled that shit eating grin he had when he played a trick on someone, something he kept his whole life.
The truth is though, we did have more brothers and sisters. Our family of cousins were so close we felt like that. Sohrab really believed in this, that extended family mentality, and he loved all of them so deeply. Always called, wrote, kept up, and celebrated with all of us. He got that from our mother who was the queen of keeping the family bonded. She was a master of love and compassion. Sohrab inherited it. One of his many superpowers.
I never lived in Saint John / Rothesay but coming here always felt like coming home. I know that my mom and dad felt the same way. They loved and were so proud of their boy. Sohrab was that anchor for all of us. The family that he and Deanna raised here was his everything, his kids Zachary, Jonah, and Miriam were his world. He would always tell me stories about them and was so proud of every little step they took. And he wanted to be there to watch all of those steps, probably with a camera, more recently taking selfies and cheerleading online about what they were up to.
He was a cheerleader, wasn’t he? He could make you feel seen. I recently had a really important pitch and I did well and I was like “yay” but Sohrab FaceTimed me congratulations, and sent me this big gift basket, and on it it was a banner that said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Leave it to Sohrab to quote Wayne Gretzky to bring me up.
Sohrab always did that. And he’d find every reason to celebrate. And party. I’d get a call from him because he was visiting Montreal for a conference and he had 24 hours, and I’d find myself at a nice restaurant, the a Habs game, then a bar, a club, on a dance floor in an after hours place, and before I knew it eating a greasy breakfast in a casse croute on St Laurent. He never missed a chance to see me, ever, and loved to share each other’s worlds with each other.
He’d come to film festival screenings, I’d take him to artist parties, and he’d always somehow fit in. I remember taking him out to a party once when I was in university and I turned around and he was already off working the room, and he’d be chatting away with an experimental video artist, someone he had nothing in common with, but finding common ground.
Sohrab just knew how to live. And he knew how to love. His family. His friends. His colleagues and patients. He knew how important it was to take life by the horns and ride. He was not a man of half measures. He really was that candle that burned twice as bright.
When I got older I stopped nipping at my brothers heels, but he never stopped being my best friend and hero. I’m not going to talk about how brilliant he was as a doctor, I’ll let other people who are more qualified do that, but I’ll tell you this – he would fight for you. I remember hanging out with him and he got 2 separate requests from family for medical advice and he just responded, gave them detailed advice, and even called their doctors if needed. Those other doctors usually didn’t appreciate that call, but Sohrab had a way of asserting his opinion.
Sohrab, I am going to miss you so much. I am going to miss those late nights, I am going to miss playing shooting things on the xbox, I am going to miss watching hockey together, I’m going to miss talking about all the cool movies and tv shows we were watching, I am going to miss our long conversations and me being able to be your confidant when you needed an ear. It’s going to be really hard to be your shadow when your guiding light is gone. But I am going to try.
So – If I am going to take something from this profound loss it’s going to be this. You remember that old ad with Michael Jordan? Be like Mike. Well I think that we should all be like Sohrab. Don’t take for granted this short time we have on earth. Live life to its fullest. Love your family like you have no tomorrow. Make that call that you’ve been putting off. Write that letter that you always meant to. Use compassion as your compass to make it through this sea even though you may have lost your anchor.
Goodbye Sohrab, my favourite brother, my best friend, my hero. We all love you so much.