While my brain is otherwise engaged in upcoming performances and my next gallery show, please enjoy something from the vaults.
He is me.
Let me start this off with a statement. I believe in nothing. There is no God, no Buddha, no afterlife, no ghosts, no spirits, nil…nada…zilch. For centuries mankind has lied to himself. Telling himself that we are more than just clever monkeys who figured out that the trick was to bang the rocks together. There is no here after, no eternal reward for good service. This life is all we have.
That said, so beings my tale.
I have 2 brothers. You have probably heard me talk about my brother Danimal; he has been my best friend, mentor and enemy. Although he plays part in this tale, this story is not about him. This story is about my other brother, the one I never met until this summer, John Clark.
After the birth of Danimal, my mother announced that there soon be another mouth to feed. Born with a lung disease that we can now cure, John Clark lived for 7 days. In those 7 days I don’t know if he ever got to see his mothers smile. I know he never got to fall in love, never ran or laughed… Danimal sorta remembers the funeral.
May years had passed Danimal, now 8, was the apple of his grandparents eye. Retched (my elder evil sister), whom they adopted 4 years earlier kept mom and dad on their toes, as any good 4 year old can. My mother announced that there would be another mouth to feed, again. But this announcement was not met with cheers, rather with worry and concern. Would this one live? They had not planned for me and worried that I, like John Clark and the miscarriage a few years later, would end up a marker on a cemetery hillside.
If you’re reading this then you probably already know how the story turned out. 27 years ago Danimal and Retched found themselves with a new sibling.
Flash forward to 1997. Danimal and I left the service, solemn and reflective. We had just buried or grandfather. We stood there watching my father, a pillar of strength, bury yet another loved one. Danimal and I skirted the crowd, watching from a distance as friends and family paid there last respects to the old man.
“Want to visit John’s grave before we head off to the reception?” suggested Danimal.
“Sure…” I shrugged, “I’ve never seen it”
I have had a vague recollection of John Clark. I remember mention of him, but never had I seen where this brother I never knew was laid to rest. That would soon change.
His headstone was on a small hill, under the shade of a grand tree, who’s mighty branches form a canopy over his and many other small markers. It took us a while to find it, Danimal had not been there in years, and there were so many names. So many children were buried there, so many little marker stones… We finally found John Clark, located next to twin girls (it runs in the family I guess). I have said earlier in this tale that I do not believe in any god or even in the idea of ghosts or souls, but what hit me as I stood over that little stone marker I cannot explain. I have tried to rationalize it, examine it, debunk it, but I can’t. All I can do is re-tell what happened.
Standing there, looking at a stone with a name on it, a name of a brother you never had the chance to know, scared me. Danimal was also uneasy, but all I could do was stand there unmoving like the stone that marked his grave… looking at that name “John Clark W____”, Danimal brought from the car 3 beers and placed one in my shaking hand. The next he opened for himself.
Kneeling close to the stone, “John, your almost 31 now. I think you can have one too” he said as he opened the third and poured it over the stone. I mumbled agreement and drank a toast to the name carved in the stone, and to the brother I never knew.
Excuse me while I fumble through this next bit, I have trouble understanding all of it myself, let alone writing it in a coherent fashion.
What if there really is a soul? Well maybe not a soul exactly, but rather an energy? Or perhaps it is just the possibility of what a person could become. John was given only 7 days here… and I was a mistake, not planned nor expected to live. What if all that John was or could have been, became me? What if his soul or potential or whatever you can call it was handed down to me. Another chance for the entity that inhabited the shell of John Clark to see the sun? What if all these years I was him? What if my whole existence, the unplanned pregnancy, the miracle birth, was just a continuation of John? It still makes me overwhelmed with a sense of grief and confusion… over and over again I ask myself the same question, what if HE IS ME
I lied earlier… I do believe in one thing. No, more like I hope for one thing. If our universe is truly infinite, then there are worlds where every scenario has a chance to be played out… every possibility is given life. And somewhere out there today John Clark W_____ celebrates his birthday, surrounded by those who love him. Growing older, fatter and loved.
Happy Birthday John,
Your little brother.