Martha's Story: Brian's Brain

Martha's Story: Brian's Brain
Thieves broke into our apartment years ago when we were young and newly married, stole Brian’s wallet, and then tried to buy gas for their getaway by forging the Visa bill under the name: Brain Brooks. Forty-four years later my handsome husband with his beautiful mind was diagnosed with brain cancer and we spent the next year grieving the unthinkable — his death, and celebrating the amazing — his life. What can I say about that journey other than it was excruciatingly painful and, in a sadly wonderful way, it was also transforming. Our pain and our joy often sits side by side and to be awake in that knowledge requires courage and a certain quirky understanding that life isn’t always fair, but, if we are paying attention, it will give us all the weird and lovely tools we need to cross the river of sorrow and make it to the other side. I am thinking of all of you today who are reading this and wondering how you will ever make it through, or how you ever made it through, or, how, if your near and dear is now your dearly departed you will ever be able to live in the world again. How you will find meaning. How you will ever care again about the simplest thing, like seeing a pear, sitting in sunlight, in a blue bowl.
In the first year after Brian’s death I looked at my own sorrow and did not look away. I wrote him a love letter every day. At the end I had a book. I also realized that I had joined “The Widow’s Club” whose numbers, unfortunately, are legion. Three years after his death, I met Jonathan, whose gentle spirit and gorgeous mind took me by surprise and made me realize that the unheard of had happened: lightning had struck twice in my lifetime! Clearly, however, Brian’s beautiful mind and heart and hand was all over our meeting because it was yet another synchronous event among so many that had guided me through the veil of sorrow and which, in fact, had shaped the story in Letters to Brian. And so it was that on March 17 of this year Jonathan and I married each other and are starting a new chapter, a new life. I am more aware than ever of how precious this life is, how fragile, how unaccountably magnificent and miraculous. Brian’s gift to me, ultimately, was the unstoppable sorrow and love I felt for him and the courage to lift myself up and start over again.
Martha Brooks is an award-winning novelist, playwright and jazz singer. She recently received the 2016 Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction, is a three-time winner of the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book of the Year, as well as the Ruth Schwartz Award, the Mr. Christie’s Book Award, the Governor General’s Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for her body of work. Letters to Brian is her first book for adult readers. She lives in Winnipeg.
Thank you Martha for sharing your story with us!

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