Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Another Eighteen Years

My older brother died when I was eighteen, half my current age. I was a high school senior, right before finals, shaping my academic future.

We were very different from each other. He was the genius and distracted professor type while I was the grounded one. He was the scientist type while I was the engineer type. He was the kid that stopped playing the piano after five years and had a teacher tear his notebook of frustration because he only did what he cared about and I, the croud pleaser and self criticizer, sticking to playing the violin until graduating the conservatory and willing to study less-than-desirable subjects.

In a spring morning like any other, I woke up a little earlier than usual as the doorbell rang. I had some classes that day, but I didn't go to school. While my friends were at class I was in the living room, with layers of what transpired the night before sinking in like layers of limestone revealing the history of primordial oceans -

My brother was involved in an accident.
The accident included his gun.
My brother was hurt.
My brother died.

Almost the reverse of winning the lottery or learning that you're going to have twins, the event is so big that the brain can't accept what is fact and needs time to process. Suddenly I was the son instead of the younger brother. I was a young kid without the cynicism of adulthood partaking in a surreal play about life.

The next few months were a blur with me doing my part like a bad actor in a soap opera that never seems credible as the character he plays. I had finals, which I have no idea how I studied for and passed with high grades, an essay competition of the French embassy that won me a trip to Paris that summer and my first love. A cluster of events which defined me in ways I am only beginning to understand. Or maybe it was the other way around - I persevered because that was my strength - follow through, improve and adapt.

A lifetime has passed since then and I can only vaguely recognize that eighteen year old kid just finishing high school. I learned a lot, and couldn't do what I do now and what I aspire doing without that experience.

Dreaming is the design. Now it's time for implementation.


Usha Krishnan Sliva said...

That's a really powerful story to share. I'm sorry for your loss- even 18 years on, I can just imagine how it must hurt!

Arnon said...

Your post brought me back to that same day 18 years ago.
Going to school as usual, waiting for one of the last classes of the year, and then the teacher calling me to the principal's office. She seemed to read my confusion, and on the way just said: "It's not you".
The principal looked at me, and in the tone of a TV criminal interregator asked me:
"Are you Amnon's friend?"
"His brother died this morning. There is a taxi on its way to pick you up, so he won't be alone".

I remember walking in, being one of the first people to join you.
Walking into the confusion, the pain, the questions that are inevitable with such a loss.

I never really knew Oded, but your loss and your pain will always be a part of me, and I hope my presence then was any comfort.

Amnon I. Govrin said...

Arnon, we sure have come a long way in our personal lives since then (military service, university, wives, kids, serious jobs).

I'm very happy to call you my friend.

Arnon said...

Thanks, and I wish you the best of luck with your spacepirations. May this be the start of a real non-serious job?