Something About 17 Years

Posted: March 22, 2014 in Delving Deeper
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Dr. Brett C. Weber 1969 - 2014

Dr. Brett C. Weber
1969 – 2014

By Mark E. Smith

Sitting at my desk in my bedroom on a Friday night, it all goes through my head. My 17-year-old is at a birthday party, her driver’s license and the SATs behind her, colleges filling up our broken mailbox with admissions invites. And, my serious girlfriend is at her place, doing the whole bi-coastal thing as we figure it all out. And, as I stare at the message Internet forum that I’ve run for 17 years, it pisses me off, to the point of angry tears running down my face. And, I want to tell them what it’s all really about.

Yesterday, I watched one of my closest real-world friends and longest members of our online community, Brett, lay in a casket — eyes closed beneath his trademark glasses – after 17 years of fighting multiple sclerosis with an open heart, brilliant mind, and the deliberate hands of a painter – and you people are trying to argue with me about how much power chair batteries cost? Brett’s dad hugged me and didn’t want to let go because I carry with me a part of his son. I held Brett’s mom’s hand, and stared into her eyes, seeing a pain I’d never seen or felt – a mother lost her son, the same age as me, and that’s something I never wanted to see and pray that I never have to see again. But, I know I will because many other families face a loved one with a progressive condition. So, while you all are focused on the pettiness of an Internet message forum and the price of f-ing power chair batteries, Brett’s parents face the stillness of his bedroom, all of him there, but he is gone. To love and be loved is a desire Brett and I shared, talking about it to a philosophical level late one night years ago in his bedroom. And, it’s the ultimate lesson that his life and his death reinforced in me – to love and be loved is all that matters.

And, I’m reminded that my girlfriend and her little one will light up our home again in just a few weeks, back to me, the east coast, to love and be loved with my daughter – all of us.

And, I have to get up early tomorrow to fix our broken mailbox to receive more college material, go grocery shopping, and then figure out what needs cleaning around the house – the stuff dads do.

And, life goes on. Only it’s different, where the small stuff in life matters less and less, and my girlfriend and our precious daughters – to love and be loved – matter more than ever. And, Brett’s not here.

Comments
  1. Sally Powell says:

    So beautifully true, Mark. My husband of 48 years suffered from type I diabetes from age 7. It gave him the gift of understanding his own mortality at a very young age, and a clear recognition of how much effort we give to “stuff.” The unconditional, joyful, embracing love he gave to all of us, made all the “stuff” fade in significance.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Heaven is a more happy colorful beautiful and loving place with Brett arrival. Gone way to soon. R.I.P Brett

  3. Anonymous says:

    “He was a scholar, a scientist, an artist, a philosopher, and an eccentric lunatic that had me smiling and laughing every day. There was never a day without Brett popping up with everything from the profound to the absurd – and it was this unique spirit, wrapped in the kindest, most joyful heart, that made Brett… well… Brett.”

    He would like that, Mark . . . he had me smiling and laughing everyday too. So good to see you and Emily on Thursday.

    In loving memory of Brett, and with deepest sympathy in this painful though temporary loss of our beloved friend,
    Barbara

  4. Mark, I am so sorry for your loss…and the loss of a bright and beautiful spirit.

  5. buschic says:

    Mark,
    You hit the nail on the head, I never got to meet Brett in person, I wish I had been able to, to thank him, for his often wacky posts or funny stuff on his site, he was incredible at making awesome collages of photos, making me laugh in my darkest moments, especially when we (Chris & I) were going through hell in Dartmouth is & in the last few months here in Ontario, I have missed him & the board dearly since being homeless, with rare access to the internet..
    Mark, I have lost many people that I’ve been close to.
    MS is a bugger, I do the MS WALK this year as a volunteer, in memory of Brett..
    I’m a deep believer in karma & the goodness of people, I hope his spirit lives on in those of us who were touched in some way by him..

    I send you & his family my heartfelt condolences..

    Hugs to anyone who needs one right now, I was in tears when I read your tweet about Brett’s passing.

  6. Anonymous says:

    It’s funny, Mark, I haven’t read your essays for a long while, but as I found your website today after my long absence, I remembered that Brett was the person who first turned me on to the WheelchairJunkie website years ago.

    I was very sad to get the news of Brett’s passing. I knew him personally as well. He was a remarkable man who will be missed by many. He thought the world of you too, mark.

  7. Maria Dewan says:

    It’s funny, Mark, I haven’t read your essays for a long while, but as I found your website today after my long absence, I remembered that Brett was the person who first turned me on to the WheelchairJunkie website years ago.

    I was very sad to get the news of Brett’s passing. I knew him personally as well. He was a remarkable man who will be missed by many. He thought the world of you too, mark.

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