|My brother and I|
A six-pack of cheap beer, an old soup can, a handful of dirt, and a little branch of ivy.
In the right hands, that's all it took to derail my life the first time. It was a good derailing, a fortuitous one, back in the early days of college. My major was, at the time, "Cellular and Molecular Biology/Biochemistry". A god-awful, pompous mouthful of a degree. I loved it. Well, saying it anyway. You had to actually say the "slash Biochemistry" part. It was more impressive that way. The problem was, I think I hated everything else about it. I just didn't know what else I was supposed to be doing.
That is, until my older brother Griffin showed up in my dorm room one evening with the aforementioned supplies for a re-potting session and sent me tumbling through the air, in love with plants. Simply because he was. His passions were so contagious I couldn't resist following along. Whether it was fishing, motor-scooters, or the music of Tom Waits, his sincerity and unbridled enthusiasm made it seem insane not to go along for the ride.
I changed my major to Botany I think sometime later that week. The new tracks of horticulture I screeched onto were rusty, warped, and did not provide a comfortable ride by any stretch. But the places it took me, though inglamorous and unlucrative, were so much more interesting! Beautiful, dirty, exhausting, and satisfying to a degree that no laboratory, however prestigious, could ever compare. And I owe it all to him.
This week, my life derailed a second time. Again, because of my brother. But this time, because I had to say goodbye to him. He fell, and hit his head, and that's it. Sudden and senseless, random and final. Now I'm spinning through the air again, and I'm not sure when I'll land, or in what condition. All I know is that life has an irrefutable momentum and this, if nothing else will carry me forward. Hopefully, if I have enough sense to look, and can see the ground through bleary eyes, I'll make out a new set of tracks, tearing off through the future with the same brilliant, crazy fire my brother ignited in everything he set his sights on. An unspoken decree to love what you love because others may need a spark to get going.
I won't waste time trying to further explain what made my brother a great man. If you knew him, you already know, and if you didn't, nothing I say will come close. Suffice it to say there is tremendous power in the death of a good person, and while it is this power that has his family and friends reeling, I believe it can also, in time, propel us onto a truer course for the remainder of our own lives. It'll be uphill, and a difficult track, but once we land, I think we may have enough momentum to do my brother proud.
Life can end for any reason, or for no reason. At any time.
Live without fear. Live like you mean it. Make your love known.
(Griffin leaves behind his wife and three young girls, here is a link to our gofundme campaign to help support them. Any contribution helps. Thank you.)