You Don’t Know What To With The Hurt (And Neither Do I)

Posted in Austin, Esme, goodbye at 9:05 pm by

Every now and then you’ll read of someone’s passing and (with all due respect) platitudes are trotted out that suggest Mr. or Ms. so-and-so was a 24-7 ray of sunshine that beautifully touched the lives of everyone lucky enough to share their oxygen. The majority of these obits range from mild exaggeration to outright bullshit.  So on this unspeakably sad occasion when Esme Barrera (above) is unanimously recalled as a spectacular wit, an unfailingly thoughtful person and all-around-ace party starter, I’ve got to say that her friends are right on the money. And I will forever consider myself insanely privileged to have been one of them.

On Saturday night several gangs of Austin musicians engaged in the routinely tedious exercise of tribute artistry, and though I’m usually immune to the charms of human jukeboxes, Dikes Of Holland’s B-52’s homage was a blast, as was a collection of Flesh Lights, The Dead Space and Bad Lovers members ripping their way thru the Cheap Trick songbook.  It was one of those not-rare-at-all nights in this nutty town where you run into almost everyone you know, and you’re absolutely thrilled to be in their company (if they manage not to get sick on your shoes, anyway). Seriously, it was one of the better New Year’s Eves I’ve ever staggered thru, and I’ve lived thru 48 of ’em.

There’s not a shred of hyperbole in my voice when I tell you such a party would’ve been sorely lacking without Esme’s presence.  As will all future parties, because in the early hours of Sunday morning, she was killed just blocks away from the venue where she and so many others who loved her to bits were ringing the new year.

Details continue to drip out of the internet, the local paper, Austin’s Kent Brockman impersonators, etc. and what little we’ve learned is already too horrible to comprehend.  For her family, friends, co-workers and the kids she helped, making sense of these events is impossible. Much is being written and reported tonight about Esme’s work as an educator, her volunteer efforts for Girls Rock Camp, and that’s legit, admirable stuff. But even if you only knew her thru the kind of moments that never show up on someone’s resume  — the late night recaps of what happened the previous night, the number of times she’d leave a mind-blowing show and try to pretend it wasn’t that great (never quite pulling it off, either), how much she tried to do for the people in her life, new and old —  you weren’t merely lucky, you won the lottery.  Even in a locale with a low percentage of jerks / poseurs, Esme was unfailingly genuine…and (I mean this in the best possible way) never afraid to risk looking dopey, but more importantly, never reluctant to let someone know she gave a hoot.

If you’re reading this, didn’t know this woman and you’re saying to yourself, “big deal, I know someone just like that,”, tell them.  Today.  We can’t bring Esme back, but any moment going forward not spent trying to match the very high bar she set… is time wasted.

If you’d like to help out with Esme’s funeral expenses, funds are being accepted at at For.Our.Esme.B.   A donation in her memory to Girls Rock Camp Austin would also be welcomed with open arms, I bet.

22 responses to “You Don’t Know What To With The Hurt (And Neither Do I)”

  1. Molly says:

    Thank you for this, Gerard. Beautifully put.

  2. Colby says:

    Spot on….

  3. Greg says:


  4. Bobby says:

    Thank you

  5. Summer Anne says:

    How lucky we all are to have known her. Thank you for writing this perfect thing for her. She deserves only the best.

  6. Brandon says:

    Dont know what else to say. I think you covered it very well. You were awesome Esme

  7. adam. says:

    Thanks GC. Haven’t been able to put it in any words my self. And I wish I was in TX with every one and not Chicago

  8. scotty upton says:

    I wish I’d known Esme better. All that I’ve read made me wish I had…… Peace to her spirit and family

  9. Chris says:

    Just stumbled across this. I’ve known Esme for about 10 years. I’m one of her friends from El Paso. I am posting here to say two things. One, thank you for this. And two, her killer is still out there. Please help us keep up the noise about this. Catching this guy won’t bring Esme back, but it might provide some small measure of comfort to her family and prevent anything like this from happening again. Thank you, again.

  10. Chris says:

    just a quick update: this came in from Lisa, who is on the ground in austin with the flyer team there. (some good news):

    “Going to be at wheatsville till 7:00!! Over 10,000 copies were made!!! There have been 3 sightings today!!! Get a copy and copy and post!!!!So many people were totally unaware …and an amazing amount of people showed up via bike, foot,car to help!!! It was very emotional watching people,the media,and businesses that were so eager to be a part of it..every little action helps.Thanks everyone!!!”

    Also, there are people here in EP working on flagging down possible cameras that may have caught the killer on film. we are compiling a list of businesses in the area that might have cameras. I will post the link to the facebook thread here. Not sure if you can see it. If not I would be happy to post it here in your blog, if you don’t mind. https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bailey1/posts/10150488395754020?notif_t=feed_comment

  11. Chris says:

    another quick update. this came in from my friend Dave: “a friend of mine found a broken butcher knife handle on Dean Keaton Ave., called 311 and turns out police were looking for it in relation to the attacks. This fucker will be caught. A team of Occupiers going out at midnight tonight to add more people presence to the area.”

  12. Erica rose says:

    Thanks for that update Chris. This progress is comforting. Report any suspicious behavior/people/ clothing found etc.

  13. Briana says:

    Beautifully said <3 Thank you.

  14. Adam B says:

    Thank you for this. As someone who was a long distance friend of Esme’s for many years, I’m jealous of the people who got to spend time with her but I’m amazed at every single thing I come across on the internet of just how many people she inspired and brought joy to.

    Adam (Minneapolis)

  15. Pluta says:

    Thanks for this Gerard. I took that picture of Esme after we’d spent the afternoon/evening at a friend’s wedding. As always, Esme brought the dance party. One of so many great memories.

  16. maura says:

    I never met Esme, but your tribute and the tributes of others have been very moving and inspiring. And your call to appreciate the people around you is an important one, and one that can’t be reiterated enough. Thanks, Gerard, for continuing to be an inspiration to me.

  17. Betsy says:

    Didn’t know her… but she has already touched my life in so many ways. I want to help in whatever way possible! I am SO HOPEFUL this guy will be caught soon. I know far too many people who live in that area… just terrible news. My thoughts are with her friends and family.

  18. Heather says:

    Dude (my favorite Esme”ism”)…you nailed it! Somehow I feel wee bit lighter as you so brilliantly captured what I have been feeling.

  19. Alec Downie says:

    I can’t say I know her beyond the cvounter at Waterloo but this story has touched me, as has the the manner in which you describe the loss Gerard.

    We all have beautiful people in our lives and we often take it for granted that they will be there at the next party, gig, opening or for a breakfast, smile or to tell you who is the next hot thing but it is not until they leave us that we value their worth.

    Give a friend a call and a hug today and let them know they are loved xx

  20. Chris says:

    Hey, I’m sure you have seen this. But it looks like this search for esme’s murderer might be over. Not ‘over’ in the way a lot of people wanted it to be but, well, here: http://austin.ynn.com/content/top_stories/282678/suspected-king-street-killer-committed-suicide–police-say

  21. GC says:

    Thanks, Chris. Until there’s evidence specifically linking Brown to Esme’s death, I don’t think our local police chief Wiggum Acevedo has any business declaring “we can sleep a little bit more comfortably tonight”. In lieu of a greater revelation, his words seem premature (and I’m being charitable in that assessment)

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