Sunday, February 25, 2007

Birth and death

Today's my brother's birthday. My real brother, Marc. The one on my Mom's side. The one I grew up with. The one to whom I was first introduced when I was Nine and he kicked my hand from within Mom's great belly. I've yet to be introduced to Wade but hope remains.

I gave Marc a card that read, 'Happy Birthday! I couldn't ask for a better brother!' and inside, 'Well, I could but I think Mom's too old now!'

Yep. Slammed two out of three immediate family members with one card. That's some productivity right there.

I missed my writing group meeting today. I was running quite late and decided to skip it and show up for the birthday celebration early instead.

I was late because I'd spent the morning on the phone with the ex, who had called in tears.

"I just got off the phone with Mrs. Murdoch in New Brunswick."

New Brunswick... Murdoch...

"John's mom." I said, and my heart fell. I sensed immediately what perfectly shitty news was coming.

"John's dead."

We met him in a bar about five years ago. I didn't think he was old enough to be there. He was very talkative, engaging.

"Do you go to school?" I asked. "Do you work? What do you do?"

"I'm a false profit," he said. I was intrigued immediately. He truly believed that God communicated with him through storms, tornadoes being the clearest medium. But no one ever believed him. He fancied himself a storm-chaser though he had no means to do such a thing. No assets or real income except for the dubious sorts and occasionally a government assistance cheque on the rare occasions he could be convinced to stay at any one address long enough. He survived mainly on street shelters and the kindness of a few relative strangers that he considered his friends.

He doodled tornadoes anywhere he found a pen. He'd tell you all about weather patterns and he sounded like he knew what he was talking about. But then he'd talk about God and the inevitable fate of mankind and he'd start repeating himself and asking if you had any Percocet lying around or any cocaine. He could be difficult to deal with. As a houseguest he became intolerable after a few days. Then he'd disappear for another six months or so. He needed institutional help. The shortfalls in his brain were not very severe I don't think. A chemical imbalance perhaps.

He recently turned 25 while living on the streets in Toronto. Not a great living arrangement this time of year. He was sitting under a tree, say his homeless associates. He had a seizure. The paramedics came too late.

Few will remember John. His one good friend, back in New Brunswick, died tragically young also.

His mom hopes to raise enough money to fly to Toronto so she can put some flowers under the tree where her only child passed away.

Goodbye John. I'm sorry we failed you.


Babs Gladhand said...

Oh man. That's horrible. Seriously sad stuff. That's just way to young. It's makes me hurt that there are people who aren't getting the help they need.

On a brighter note, tell your brother I said Happy Birthday.

Kathleen said...

Poor John. I can't imagine life with no friends. It's sad he couldn't get or wouldn't accept the help he needed. This is where it helps to believe "Only the good die young." Okay, it doesn't really help at all.

Happy Birthday to Marc!

I had blogger's word verification. I know I typed that last one correctly!