About a week before I started my MFA program, my eldest brother Jesse died. We were saddened and both relieved because he’d been in hospice with terminal cancer for nearly two years. Not only had the cancer destroyed his brain, but my brother, an adult man of color living with schizophrenia had experienced tragedy and health troubles throughout his entire life.
Jesse had hyper-graphia and only wrote in red ink. The growing mountain of tablets did not sate his need to write. He wrote non-stop. So did I. He heard voices. I channeled mine through characters and their dialogue. He became a social outcast as do many people with mental illness. I became a writer. His behavior institutionalized him. Mine earned me publication, audiences, stagings and productions of my work.
Perhaps, I found voice and writing because of the things that he could write, but never say. Jesse, may you rest in peace, brother.