June 8th, 2018

“He blew his mind out in a car.” John Lennon, from the song A Day in the Life

Today is Marc’s birthday. He was (is) a brother of mine, eleven years my junior. He’s been gone for over twenty years. He died in a car wreck when he was only twenty-eight. He slammed his Mazda into a bridge abutment, and he flew through the windshield. I believe that he died instantly. He left behind a young wife and two little girls.

Time is a funny thing. Twenty years can feel like forever, or it can feel like nothing at all. As I sit here typing, twenty years gone by feel like only yesterday. I can still see Marc’s face. I can still hear his voice in my head. I can still remember shaking his hand and saying goodbye to him for the last time in 1997.

They say that time heals all wounds. That’s not true. Not really. Memories fade, and that is probably a blessing. However, the sting of death lingers. That feeling of loss never completely disappears. Perhaps that is as it should be. We only grieve for the people that we love. If we hurt, it is because we love.

In an odd way, Marc’s life paralleled my own. He was intelligent and ambitious, as I was. He wanted to get far away from home, as I did. Marc settled in Texas. I was all over the map. He tested military life, as I did. Marc was smarter than I was, in that he quit the military early. I was a slow learner, and I stuck around the Army for ten years. Both Marc and I married foreigners. He married a Texan, and I married a German. Despite the gap in our ages, we had similar interests and similar goals. I felt very close to Marc.

Marc was a complicated person. I suspect that every person is complicated, but with Marc it seemed more obvious. Marc was very religious, intensely Catholic. He was an excellent bass guitarist. He and his wife, Shawn, played in a Christian punk band. Marc could be very loving and generous. He was also insanely competitive, and he suffered from OCD. Actually, the people near him suffered more from his OCD than he did. Marc was athletic, and he could also sit for hours playing old school video games (e.g. Missile Command).  He had a twisted and infectious sense of humor. He could be both humble and vain about his looks. Marc was a bundle of contradictions. In short, he was completely human.

There is a temptation for me to wonder what Marc would have been if he had lived. That train of thought never leaves the station. I can’t know what might have been. I don’t want to know. I do know that his life has left a trace. He made things happen. He set things into motion.

Marc’s daughters, Maire and Roise, are grown up now. Both of them have their own children. In some ways they resemble Marc, which seems to be natural, but is also a bit eerie. Stefan, our son, was Marc’s godson. Stefan has many of Marc’s attributes, which seems strange, since they barely had time to know each other. For instance, both Marc and Stefan love fast motorcycles. I don’t know why that is: is it heredity, or karma, or simply my over-active imagination?

Our oldest son, Hans, lives in Texas, as Marc did. Hans would not be there now, if not for Marc. Marc opened a pathway there. Hans followed it. Our family has connections down south that would never have existed without Marc. We can thank him or blame him. In any case, he is responsible.

Marc’s gravestone in lies in the Catholic cemetery in Bryan, Texas. His body lies beneath that marker. I’m not entirely sure where his soul is. At this moment in time, I believe that he is close to me.

Marc loved watching Wallace and Gromit. Today would be a good day for me to watch that too. Maybe have some cheese with the movie.



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