Monday, November 23, 2009

It’s a Wonderful Life.

A few weeks ago my brother met a new woman.

He had met ‘M’ online and got chatting. Chatting led to calling and calling led to meeting. Which, naturally, led to ribbing by me. I shouldn’t… he’s an easy target. Plays it very close to the chest. So I was amazed when he admitted to me that he liked ‘M’ very, very much. “We click,” he said. This, for the brother, was like admitting he had launched a thousand ships and called in the ground workers for the Taj Mahal.

Oh dear… seeing him in free fall made me open the parachute of ‘be careful, take it slow, don’t get hurt.’ But he was like a teenager again. With all that that entails. When not being critical in front of the mirror he was on the phone ‘No, you hang up first… I can’t…No, you… all right we’ll do it together, 1,2,3…’ Click.
The brief moments I saw him, he was either euphoric or sulkily monosyllabic - counting down the hours until he would speak to ‘M’ again.

The weekend before last, he stayed at M’s and met her family - her kids, her sister, her sister’s kids, and her parents. It went well. Very well. M’s father is a train and canal barge buff and has converted the attic to house his collection of models. The bro mentioned that his father had worked on a barge once.
“Oh really?”
“Well yes…sort of…mumble…actor…mumble…film ‘The Bargee’… mumble…”
It turns out ‘The Bargee’ is M’s dad’s favourite film. It’s a small world. M’s dad gave the bro a framed print of a barge on a stretch of the canal where ‘The Bargee’ was filmed. What a nice bloke.

What a nice weekend. On Monday, he and M chatted about how well it had gone. On Tuesday he was a bit down, M couldn’t talk that night, she was busy, and it seemed a long time till they would meet up again. On Wednesday they spoke briefly in the evening before she had to pop out. On Thursday morning M’s sister called him. M had been killed in a car crash the previous night. She didn’t give details - she could hardly speak.

Life has no business behaving like a film script.

And I have no business blogging about all this – or so I thought. I mentioned to the brother that I was trying to come up with something to post but all I could think about was the accident. “Write about it,” he said, “why not?”

So why not…

Why not…what if… perhaps… Not good words to go near at a time like this.

What if, in another dimension, M hadn’t got in the car that night? She and the bro spent many happy years together and died in a yachting accident off the Seychelles in 2049.

Perhaps, in another, they had one more weekend together, got into a fight about which end of the toothpaste to squeeze, went off in a huff, didn’t return each other’s calls and never met again.

But in this dimension M died. In this one her memory is already climbing onto a perfect pedestal. In this one the bro is having to come up with reasons to get his legs over the sides of the bed in the morning.

Selfishly, as M’s poor family try and comprehend what’s happened, I’m including the fact that my brother wasn’t with her and still has mornings into my list of counted blessings.

If / When the bro next takes tentative steps travelling down the road to romance, I will not counsel caution. It will be full speed ahead on his journey.

Safe journey, M…

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