Friday, August 13, 2010

To Marc

I try to imagine a reader of this blog.

I can't.

Except for one person. My brother. He definitely would have read my blog. He died six years ago today. He would have commented, too, and told people - my sister has a blog - and rolled his eyes as though it were silly instead of something he was proud of. He was the only person who read my final master's paper. I don't even think the professor read it; there was a cursory "excellent work" scribbled at the bottom of the last page. My brother had sticky notes throughout and asked me a number of hard insightful questions, leaning in as I spoke about philosophy and education and psychology and the latest research in literacy.

It's ironic, of course. He wasn't "smart" in school. He got in trouble. The usual stuff. He dropped out in grade 10.

Not long after he died I ran into one of his teachers. She asked about him. He was killed, I said. Oh, my gosh, what happened, she asked, and then I could see her flinch and think - why did I ask? I could read her mind (perhaps I'm wrong): he was probably stabbed in some dark alley while doing a shady drug deal.

His helicopter crashed, I said. Her eyes grew large and she couldn't leave out the incredulity - he was a helicopter pilot! Yes, I said and left it at that. I wanted to say, when he died he was a multi-millionaire, an entrepreneur with multiple business interests who had bought a helicopter and learned how to fly it. And more important - more important to Marc: he was a loving father, a dutiful son, a loyal friend, the kind of brother everyone wishes they had.

He had taken the helicopter in to be serviced - it wasn't running to his satisfaction. On his first flight after picking it up, the engine quit. He didn't have a chance.

He didn't have a chance in school, either. Despite his intelligence, his curiosity, his joy in learning, he was shuffled into the "not yet meeting" part of every class. He didn't learn to read quickly, spelling wasn't his strong suit - but oh, if anyone had paused to know him, they would have discovered that his mind could dance like Baryshnikov. (I can hear him now. He wouldn't appreciate the metaphor. A ballet dancer? What the hell?)

His death was senseless. Someone used a 10-amp fuse instead of the required 1.5-amp fuse. And despite his enormous success during his too-short life, the loss of dignity that he suffered throughout his school years was senseless, too. I can't do anything about the helicopter. But I'd like to find a way to make sure that no one suffers needlessly in school as he did.

1 comment:

  1. Shelley what a raw and touching post. I think I would have liked your brother. When I meet my class next week your honest story will stay with me. I will seek out the 'Marc's in my class. Thank you for sharing the real heart and the real hurt... As you said in our TLCP course this weekend "The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart" (Buddha). Thank you for sharing.