Trying to control the chaos

My brother has always strictly adhered to a linear approach to life. Things will happen in a specific, organized, planned way. Naturally he has failed miserably.
He chose George Washington University in Washington, D.C., because he didn’t want anyone to know him. He wanted an anonymous four years as an undergraduate majoring in sports medicine. Unfortunately for him, if you are a 6-foot-1 inch 170 pound kid who takes a charge from a 7-foot, 282-pound Russian during walk-on try outs, you tend to get the attention of coaches. Once his mouth was stitched back together, he was put on the roster. He appeared in blowouts the next three seasons, and by the time senior night came he was a fan favorite. The student section was peppered with t-shirts that read everything from “Thanks Mark” to “The People’s Champion: Mark Lund.” One dude even painted my brothers’ name on his chest. So much for anonymity.
That final home game was against No. 5 Temple. GW, two years removed from an Atlantic 10 Championship and appearance in the NCAA Tournament, struggled. But down 40, the crowd didn’t leave, not until they saw Mark one last time. He entered the game to a thunderous applause and hit a three-pointer from the corner. You would have thought it was worth 41 points. He threw an alley-oop, the crowd lost its collective mind. The Temple players looked confused.
During medical school Mark didn’t own a TV. He locked himself away from the world to focus on the task at hand. Everything had to wait. After medical school he applied for and was accepted for a commission as a physician in the Navy and during one of my visits he confided,
“Brother I won’t even be able to think about dating until I am done with the military.”
One thing at a time, right? Wrong…again.
A few weeks before his second deployment to Iraq he met Rachel. When he broke his wrist and was shipped from Fallujah to Germany to have it screwed back together, she visited him there. Mom, Dad and I knew it was over, she had completely ruined his plan in the best way possible. He was married three years before he had planned to start dating, and as stability and organization began to take root, he was deployed to Guam.
Then two years ago came Benjamin. Two days ago came Mariah.
It’s funny to think of my brother as a father of two. We’ve seen each other in short segments over the past decade, so to go from talking college basketball to discussing politics, investments and kids has made us both realize how much growing we’ve done in between. This is not second-guessing my choice to stay in California or lamenting his time in the military, it’s simply a fact of our family dynamic with which we are both comfortable.
I tease him sometimes about how he tried to push against the inevitabilities of life, specifically trying to control what we can’t. All you can really do is equip yourself to handle change. My brother has done this well, which makes it no surprise that he is faithfully, financially, and occupationally well-off.
Congratulations brother on all that didn’t happen as you imagined which has made your life what it is. From that offensive foul and those loyal fans, to Rachel, Benjamin and your new little daughter, you’ve organized what you didn’t expect into a great life.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeremy Howell says:

    Fantastic column about a great guy!

  2. Betsy says:

    This is beautiful. Thanks for writing this, Jeff. And I’m so glad, as the little sister-in-law, that your brother’s plans didn’t pan out the way he thought they were going to so long ago.

  3. Ron and Sue Schmitz says:

    Great tribute! You’re a pretty good brother yourself! Congratulations on the arrival of your first niece.

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