Months To Years Spring 2018 Months To Years Spring 2018 - Page 29

The pursuit of his degree also fostered and fed Mal’s Mal died at the age of sixty-three. Amy is about to turn voracious, life-long hunger for words, books, and an entry sixty. And I will be sixty-two this year. Together, we shared into worlds he’d otherwise never have explored. And we six decades of our lives. Three small  children, clasping shared that hunger, he and I, passing book titles and hands, laughing over private jokes and sharing secret authors’ names between us like passwords allowing access thoughts. Three adults, sharing fewer secrets perhaps, but to places only we could go. holding on to…something, just as tightly. I can’t help but wonder about the void I expect to soon I do not remember the last time I said the words “I love feel inside of me. A large, empty darkness growing in that you” to my brother, or the last time he said those words space in my soul from which once Mal had beckoned. to me. But I know that he knew that I knew that our close brotherly bond was a cerebral tie, linking us just as strongly But now, his absence from my life is too fresh a wound, through our silences as it did through the spoken word. not yet cauterized by time, perspective, and the relief that I know shall come with eventual acceptance. I expect, still, Were it not for the almost primordial connection that we to hear the distinctive and frenetic ringtone I assigned shared, would we have been so able to frustrate, amuse, to his number on my cellphone – a warning alert that I irk, please, ire, cajole, shame, celebrate – and help each should brace myself to hear of his latest crisis, catharsis, or other – to the degree that we did for all those decades some other manner of self-constructed calamity. spent together…? Would I ever before have believed that I would eagerly Mal’s corporeal being we shall leave here when we walk await that alert – and then feel sadness when it did not away from this graveside today. But his essence will come? remain with each of us as we journey on. Mal’s initial diagnosis of colon cancer was made on And I know that I shall carry Mal with me until my own February 9th, 2013 – and the disease was soon classified journey ends. as Stage lV. Terminal. Subsequently, Mal had major surgeries on his colon and his liver, and three separate six- I have always found comfort and sustenance in the words months-long rounds of chemotherap y. of William Shakespeare, with his astonishing grasp on the human condition, and his equally astonishing ability to so The fact that Mal survived – relatively healthfully – for pithily express that grasp in words. five years after that original diagnosis, is a testament to his strong desire to live, his unflappable will, and his So, Mal. Brother. Using the words of Mr. Shakespeare, I unyielding belief that he would eventually be counted say this to you… among the rare few outlier-individuals who miraculously overcame this insidious disease. And in a way, he was “Goodnight, sweet prince. And flights of angels sing thee right. It was sort of miraculous that Mal lived five years, to thy rest.” when the vast majority of people in his circumstances survive for fewer than two. Gary R. Schoen is Mal Schoen’s brother. This was the And by a strange, almost supernatural aligning of the eulogy he gave at Mal’s funeral. Gary is a freelance mysterious universe, Mal’s most recent admission to the writer-editor residing in Portland, Oregon, where it rains a hospital, which signaled the beginning of his spiral toward lot – which he believes nourishes his creative process and finally submitting to his disease, occurred on February his soul. He received a Creative Writing Degree from San 9th – exactly five years to the day since his initial Francisco State University in 1991. diagnosis. 29