Eleven years ago today, my younger brother Brian died in a snowmobile accident at the heart-breaking age of 29. It was, in every respect, a ridiculous waste – just a stupid fluke that ended his life and changed the lives of many others.
Every March 2, I wear the orange wrist band his friends created to help remember him. I wear it until April 21, his birthday. Then I put it away until the following March, letting my memories fade to some degree as I get on with life – experiencing the joys and pains of living that he missed out on. It’s kind of like lapping him on the track of life.
The only consolation is that Brian packed a hell of a lot into his 29 years, doing things he loved and making scores of friends along the way. But he was just getting started. He was a technology savant, working with bands in recording studios and at live shows. I often wonder what he would make of all the technology that’s arrived since he left us.
Buried deep in my basement, I have a box of cables I somehow inherited from him. At the time, they were the best available, cutting-edge tools to transport sound and light. Today they have no use. But I’ve never once considered getting rid of them. I have to pull the box out every December to get at other boxes full of Christmas decorations and detritus. They represent a moment in time, a moment when Brian was still an active part of my life, when he was crisscrossing the country using cables like those to do his work.
It was during a work trip out west when he died. On their day off, he and two friends were snowmobiling when he hit a ditch and was thrown from the machine. There was nothing his friends could do, short of witnessing the moment and then recounting it many times in the following weeks for everyone who knew and loved Brian.
I woke up this morning and thought of Brian as I pulled the orange wrist band from its drawer. I’ll think of him a lot until his birthday – a celebration he no longer gets to enjoy.