I woke up in the middle of the night because of a memory I had long dismissed came back in full force.
In 1987, my older brother, Mark, was run over by a two-ton van.
He was only 10 years old, trick-or-treating with nearly a dozen of his friends on a cold, rainy Halloween night. They came across a group of teenage punks who were throwing eggs at all the children in our local streets. My brother’s friend’s mom, the designated chaperone, yelled for the children to find haven in her family’s 17-person-carrying van. She had been following them with the vehicle in case the rainfall would be too burdensome. The van was stopped on a slope of the road.
Mark’s posse of costumed friends sprinted to the van. My brother was the last one to get in. There was a bunch of yelling as the teenagers continued to pelt them with eggs. The van slowly began to move forward. Within seconds, everyone felt a minor bump. A bump that was not supposed to be there.
Someone shouted, “Mom, you ran over Mark!”
During the chaos, the van’s passenger double doors swung open and Mark apparently fell out as the vehicle jolted forward. The van’s back tires ran over my brother.
I wasn’t there. My mom, little sister and I were enjoying our Halloween loot back at home, safe from all the rain and teenage bullies. I remember hearing a loud knock and series of rushed doorbell chimes. Mom opened the door and cried out. Mark was carried into the kitchen. He sat awkwardly on a chair at the dinner table. There were huge black tire tread marks embedded along his left thigh and a few scratches on the knees. Tears were streaming down his face.
He was alive.
My parents later explained to me that because of the slanted slope and the amount of rainfall that softened the road, the two-ton van didn’t crush Mark. Had my brother been in a different position or angle when he landed, he could have been seriously harmed or killed.
Had my brother not returned that Halloween night, my life would have been radically different. I realize that now. I couldn’t go back to sleep and my mind was racing on the big terrible “what if.”
- We would have parted without realizing how much we love one another. Back then, we did not have a good brotherly relationship. In fact, I was 20 years old when Mark unexpectedly reached out to me. I was living in Japan at the time so he instant messaged me over AIM (kudos to those who remember that online service) about an epiphany he had: he wasn’t the best brother to me yet now he wanted to be. We have grown very close ever since.
- I would never have accepted Mark’s invitation to attend church – an experience that forever changed my life. This is the same church where I eventually met my beautiful wife for the first time.
- I would not have been able to experience the joys of being an uncle and playing football with my amazing nephews during Thanksgiving. Because of Mark’s endearing wife and their children, I would not have been as ready or as willing to become a parent myself. Time spent with them opens my eyes to wonderful possibilities I can experience with my children.
The list goes on indefinitely, leaving me in a state of wonder and awe in how one person can create ripples of life-changes. I’m incapable of imagining a happier life without my brother being part of it. I praise God that Mark is still here. Alive and well. Loving his family and living a life worth mentioning.
Love you, Mark. Now, please. Stop haunting my sleep and let me rest!