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.