Today is the anniversary of my losing a member of my family.
In the early morning hours of August 2nd, 2009, I was crumpled into the doorway of my bedroom holding my chest trying to comprehend my sister's broken words, “He’s gone. Joey’s gone. He didn’t wake up.” It was so unexpected that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I couldn’t set this moment in reality. Unfortunately, my inability to believe in its reality didn’t stop it from being so. At just 18 years old, my little brother Joey went to sleep with all of the hopes and dreams of a kid about to start college… and didn’t wake up the next morning. The youngest member of mi familia had moved on before the rest of us, and the crushing loss was not an experience navigated gracefully.
You might be asking yourself, “What does any of this have to do with a Nerd Makeup company blog?” It has a lot to do with it actually and I am not just here to bum everyone out with a story about crippling losses, but you’ve gotta trust me...
The grief that rapidly fell upon me after Joey’s passing was by far the most brutal and persistent pain I have ever experienced. It’s when I stopped being able to sleep consistently. This is where every nano second began being calculated in my brother’s honor and I became max level engaged in all aspects of my life. I was intent on cramming in as many unique and hilarious experiences that I could before my time was up. The loss of a piece of mi familia was the catalyst for my starting a company - THIS company - then focusing it on the nerdy, nostalgic, pop-culture-y things that Joey and I grew up with and LIVED for along with our three other siblings.
Espionage Cosmetics is a direct response to losing Joey (who was the unashamed nerd in our family) and deciding that I wanted to live the rest of my life doing things that would allow me to be creative, remain passionate, and meet other people like me that have managed to keep their inner child alive and well.
"I miss my brother every minute and to this day I still have dreams about his bear hugs, but I have found that the moments I feel the most like he's still here are when I am getting my ass kicked at Halo, or when I am watching a Godzilla movie and Mechagodzilla shows up to throw down, or when I hear a Wookie call at a convention…"
One of the six million reasons I am so intensely grateful for the ridiculously amazing job I have at Espionage is that I have moments literally EVERY day where I get to lead, ask for, plan, build out, travel to, shake hands with, or stare in awe at experiences that not only count as being fulfilled at my job, but also allow me brief moments where I feel like my little brother is in the room once again.
It’s eight years later and I STILL choke on words that end up being sobs if I am asked what the significance of my having the words "10 More Yards" posted all over my office/car/laptop/life means. The gist is this: if you are facing something terrible, something brutal, something painful - you are not doing yourself any favors framing things on a large or even normal timeline. I couldn’t comprehend never seeing my brother for the rest of my life, but I could survive hours or minutes. So, that is what I focused my mind on. I learned to live in increments, to survive in smaller capsules of time, and to inch forward even the tiniest step because progress is progress is progress. On some of the rougher days, I still sit in my office and listen to the Halo soundtrack on repeat and will answer emails and map out R&D projects while I cry. It’s called multi-tasking and it’s part of how "10 More Yards" has to look for me sometimes.
I was told at the beginning of this road that eventually things would be easier. I would eventually forget how this felt. I can say with certainty that there has been no ease of burden or ache. I have simply, like many many others, learned to adjust for the new weight and pain. It’s part of my journey and it’s also responsible for how I landed in this place in time where I wound up being my own boss building a company that I am SO in love with. Each time there is an incredible high at Espionage and the Nerd Misfits and I are celebrating or high-fiving, I feel an ache in my chest that Joey never got to be a part of this. Then I remember with another wash of pain and pride that this incredible human with the most epic of bear hugs may not have had more than 18 years to enjoy his life, but the effect he had in that flicker of time is now being amplified through me and chosen familia at Espionage as we navigate nerdy, ridiculous, fun-as-hell, amazing adventures in cosmetics. Joey would have thought this was hilarious.
Moral of the story:
If you're lucky - learn without the loss.
If the loss finds you anyways, learn to live in increments. Anyone can live 10 more seconds. Anyone can make it 10 more yards. Just keep moving.
Don’t let other people convince you that being a nerd is a childish thing you have to give up in order to be an adult. I have it on good authority that being a nerd at this makeup company in Tacoma, WA, is a legit grown up job for ten people currently and that we are now adding more nerds to this island of misfits to keep up and keep growing. Plus, as biased as I obviously am towards my company - I know we aren't the only nerd job in town, in our state, and definitely not in the US. There are many like us and next year there will be many more. Embrace it. Go do something you love.
10 More Yards,
Joey's proud, big sister & The Glitter Jedi @ Espionage Cosmetics