‘Road to October’ and another window into my brother’s world

By Lisa Maria Bell

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

James Tyner, Fresno’s first poet laureate, is a librarian with the Fresno County Library system. He’s been doing videos about his favorite horror books. I stumbled across his “Road to October” video about Joe Hill’s “Horns,” by Stephen King’s son.

Randy, Katie and I just watched the movie version of “Horns” a few weeks ago and I can’t say that we loved it  (in truth, it’s pretty amazing that we stayed with it through the entire film). But I have enjoyed some of Hill’s other books — “NOS4A2” and “Heart-Shaped Box.” Tyner said “Horns” is the horror book he recommends most often to library patrons. So I may check it out, even if I didn’t love the movie.

That got me thinking, I wonder if my brother Sean ever read “Horns,” or any of Hill’s books. But like so many questions that have crossed my mind since Aug. 7, 2019, I’ll never learn the answer. That’s the day Sean died, at age 48 (click here to read Sean’s eulogy).

I haven’t written about Sean’s passing in these pages. Much of what I feel about his death is still too raw. But that doesn’t mean he’s not on my mind, especially this time of year.

Although Sean died in early August last year, we held off on holding his funeral right away, to time it closer to his birthday (Oct. 12) and to give time for family from farther away to gather with us in Fresno to remember him.

So my road to October this year has included many memories  — and so many unanswered questions — of this first year without my younger brother Sean.

I’ve never been good at quieting my mind. Never. But I keep trying to circle closer to the core of what matters — memories, traditions, family, connections, love.

As I thought about how I can’t ask Sean about “Horns” — or anything else — a tiny window opened up in my mind. I wondered if I might be connected to my brother on Goodreads, the social media network for bookworms.

We are. This is uncharted territory in my relationship with my brother.

Less than a year before he died, Sean liked a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh, a spiritual leader I have followed:

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

All is a miracle. Look around and see it.

Apparently, Nelson DeMille was also a favorite author of his. We shared an affinity for Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King. He had lots of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft on his reading list. Michael Crichton, H.G. Wells and Jules Vernes. Anne Rice, William Gibson, Stephen R. Donaldson.

New territory. Books that he read — words that impacted his life — that I might also pursue, and in his absence, draw closer to him.

When someone you love is gone forever, you welcome any new window that you didn’t have before that gives you a glimpse into understanding them better.

Foster those connections now. You might not have the opportunity to make them later.

I’m thankful that James Tyner inspired me to think of a way to open a new connection to my lost brother.

What we read, what we write, what we share now with others creates pathways that extend beyond our own time on this earth.

One thought on “‘Road to October’ and another window into my brother’s world

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  1. Good reminders, Lisa. Hadn’t thought of that way to connect with those who have passed. Many of us are left with the legacy of boxes of books our parents read or at least had in their bookshelves. We move them around in boxes because we don’t necessarily want to dispose of them – few of us probably see them as a way to re-connect with our own past and what has shaped us and those we love.

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