Sunday, May 19, 2013

Brian's Imprint

I've always thought about Brian, mainly because I wanted to write something about him. Ever since high school I knew I wanted to write something about him, an image came to mind, but the words didn't come so easily, plus I never sat down and actually wrote. I think deep down I always wanted to be a writer, and Brian's story is one I wanted to tell for a long time, it was a constant that would come to my mind, mainly through an image, and that image has stayed with me up until this day. For some reason Brian came to mind earlier in the week, and I thought to myself that I'd been wanting to write Brian's story for a long time, why not do it now with the blog? I guess in my mind I saw myself writing a fiction based story, or I don't know; it wasn't until starting this blog that I decided to throw caution to the wind about what I write, and how I write. I guess I wanted to wait until becoming a "professional" or "real" writer before writing about him, but I'm shaking off that need to be labeled one of those tags or titles in order to write about whatever the hell I want to in this blog. Anyhow, I just hope that I'm doing justice to Brian and his story.

The image that never leaves my mind of Brian, is of him, in a wheel chair, outside the classrooms, behind some rails, and he'd be watching the rest of us play during recess. That image would be modified a few months later, when the middle school started doing some remodeling and building, so they put up some fencing across the outdoor corridor, so during recess whenever I looked over, I would see Brian sitting there with his chin in his hand, watching us from behind the fence, deep in thought. The fence was gone by our 8th grade year, but Brian would still be there, during the short 15 minute recess and the lunch break recess.

From what I can recall, Brian was a single child, who had Muscular Dystrophy, so by the time I met him, or saw him around campus in the 7th grade, he was already wheelchair-bound. I just knew him by his first name, Brian, he and I never interacted. In the 7th grade there was usually an 8th grader assigned to wheel him out of class and take him to the spot he asked to be left at. When we became 8th graders, it was one of us that rolled up him out to his spot, it was never me, I'm not sure how people were assigned to wheel him out, but it was usually one of the more preppier, or lively kids. Come to think about it, I never had Brian for any classes either.

I remember talking with some friends during class one day, and for some reason Brian became the subject. The conversation, was gray in tone, in that my friends were talking about Brian with a tone of pity. A couple of them relayed a story about him, before he ended up in the wheelchair, he still had use of his legs, because I guess the disease hadn't degenerated his muscular tissue too badly yet. They were saying that they were in the boys bathroom, and that Brian was washing his hands, when all of a sudden he ended up on the floor. Now, my friends were a rowdy bunch, quicker to laugh at one another or others, and talk shit to each other with a mastery of Spanish swear words that would make some adults blush, but back then my friends already knew that he was "malo" so they didn't point and laugh at him, instead they reached down and helped him back up to his feet. They said Brian thanked them, and he was able to walk out on his own.

Brian's condition I believe was known to all of us. It seemed to be understood that Brian's condition was bad, but it also seemed to be known to all of us not just the teachers, the parents, and Brian, that he was going to pass away eventually. It was fucked up, but that was what you could sense when Brian came into conversations, no one addressed it specifically, but there was already that air of sorrow, or mourning. I keep thinking about Brian, because even back then, I think, I would think too much. Sometimes as I would take a break to catch my breath from running around with my friends, and I'd spot Brian, I'd look at him, and wonder what he was thinking as he watched us use our legs, run, and laugh. I felt guilty that all of us were enjoying our recess in front him. My heart went out to him.

I never spoke to Brian. I was socially awkward and introverted even back then. I usually only spoke to people that I had befriended, but I could never go out of my way to talk to new people. So I never had the opportunity to become friends with him. Even then, I remember that other than having a short conversation with the person that usually wheeled out, or some students that walked by him and said "Hi Brian," or engaging him for a few minutes in conversation, by asking him how he was doing, Brian spent his recess alone, in his wheel chair, in deep thought, watching us. Now that I've grown older, and think about mortality and just life in general, it's hard not to imagine what could have been going through his mind. But I try not to do that, because I don't want to place thoughts there, that might not have been his. But that image of him, in a wheelchair, watching the those of us his age, the world literally moving around him, while he remained stationary, until the bell rang so he could be wheeled into either 3rd or 5th period, that image, stays with me.

Some time in the Spring semester Brian didn't come back to school. The news was that he was really sick, and therefore bedridden. Eventually it was reported that Brian passed away. The atmosphere was somber during that time. Recess was still chaotic, and during the bedlam I would turn to look at Brian's spot on the outdoor corridor, and I would just think to myself, that we'll never see him there again. He was such a fixture, that not seeing him there once he passed, made it hard to believe he wouldn't return. Even when he was bedridden I think we all imagined we'd see him back at his spot eventually, in deep thought, because it wasn't the first time he had to miss some class time because of his disease. But no, Brian wasn't coming back, and his spot remained empty what was left of the school year.

By the time June rolled around, we were caught up in graduation ceremonies, because we were about to move on to high school. But at the graduation ceremony, the middle school awarded Brian's parents, his diploma, and I believe some type of plaque. We, the student body were silent, I'm sure the majority of us recalling Brian at his spot.

I truly do hope I did Brian some justice in this post, because I didn't want to write about him, by talking about myself or other people, but it was difficult not to, because I never interacted with him. But I know I can't be the only one, that has that image of Brian filter into his mind. This isn't about "woe is me" for not getting to know Brian better, this is more about about him, and the imprint he left on my and my classmates minds. Anyhow this another post difficult to just end, because regardless of how I end it, it feels like I'm ending it abruptly, because Brian's life wasn't simply about that image that has stayed with me.


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