Love, lost

I made it through 2023.

My brother Andrew did not.

He was six years younger than me, not even 30, and one of my absolute favourite people in the world. A big reason why I decided to take up a job in Malta was to be physically close to my family. I felt Andrew was one of the people who got me the most, on different levels: we shared a sense of humour, an appreciation for music, and the rest of our family. Our paths and interests were interwoven, very much organically (and genetically). One thing I loved about being in Malta was bumping into him on a night out, at a festival, or at Mġarr Farmers’ Bar (the latter only happened once). I was looking forward to working with him on one of my artistic projects, for which he was often a litmus test – if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.

The last time I saw Andrew we built a large fire together, and gathered our common friends and family around it. These faces were the same ones I saw for the days and weeks, sharing love and support, many times in silence.

If I wanted to be dangerously positive, I would say love was the defining feature of 2023. A loved one lost, the love for him persisting as grief, and the massive outpouring of love following his loss.

The love for him was expressed in his funeral, and in numerous tributes from the many people who had crossed his path, not least from Brikkuni, who decided to forge ahead with the ideas he had proposed for the band’s calendar. I was invited to be part of these events, playing guitar on Alla Lliberani, a song which Andrew had played guitar on and directed the music video for. Figuring out the song through the music video, tracing his fingerprints under a magnifying glass, deepened my appreciation of his work, as well as the wound his loss had left, still fresh, still painful at every turn.

Another project I was roped in for was Tgħanniqa Xewkija, a short musical for children Andrew had devised together with Marta Vella. Here too I was able to trace the footsteps of a journey I did not know much about, and I’m grateful for Marta’s efforts in putting on this musical at last year’s Żigużajg festival in his honour.

All this was beautiful, but very hard.

I wish it weren’t necessary.

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