Last weekend I settled with Steve on the sofa to watch the Malaysian Moto GP. Two laps in, a crash took the life of 24-year-old Marco Simoncelli and as I watched his lifeless body on the bitumen, my mind of its own accord saw my brother, Paul, laying on a coasty road in the early hours of March 1979. I was sixteen at the time and have carried with me certain ‘facts’ of the accident. For example, I recall hearing that Paul had died on impact when a steel rail pieced his chest. Since he died on impact, I reasonably concluded that he passed from this life alone, and of course, that fills me with sadness even now, 30+ years on. But a Medium I met with recently gave me different information after ‘connecting’ with Paul. Paul had shown her injuries to his stomach, and he had ‘said’ there were people with him on the roadside before he died, or perhaps they were with his body after he died, I’m not entirely sure. All the same, he remembers them. Obviously I do not know the truth and never will and it is possible that the policemen who knocked on our door at 2am that morning told my mother he had died instantly to save her that additional pain.
Paul, Paulie or Paulo as we called him, was just past his eighteenth birthday when the tire on his motorbike blew out, he lost control and died. His motorbike was a birthday present from my mother. She was reluctant but typically, anything we wanted, she would find a way to make it happen—I don’t know how. I went with her that Saturday morning to inspect the prospective bike at a house in Dean Street—I cannot drive past it without this memory—and I’ve never been able to shed the thought that if she had not bought that bike that day, it would have been someone else’s son and brother who died, not ours. I presumed the tire was faulty but that might not have been the case. All the same, I blamed them for the longest while.
I’ve always been a light sleeper, so I was the one to hear the knock on the door that morning. I called out, “Who is it?” and the answer came, “It’s the police.” I replied, “I don’t believe you,” and was told, “Open the door.” It was an order and I obeyed. I called out to mum and as soon as she saw the policemen standing in our living room, she knew, and collapsed on the couch. Marko (my younger brother) and I stood there not knowing what to do or how to feel, as mum rocked back and forth frenetically like an autistic child, screaming and crying. A neighbour arrived to take control and Marko and I set off, arms around each other, to walk the length of our street in the dark. There were no tears or words and it seemed fitting that the rain should fall as it did—softly as if it was being gentle with us. The glow from each street light was like a misty shroud and I looked in each expecting to see Paul saying goodbye. A goodbye would have been nice, and perhaps an apology for leaving as he did: “I’m sorry for the pain and misery that is to come from this moment, for lives that will be destroyed, relationships that will disintegrate, and for those who will never recover. I’m sorry that for some, the darkness of this morning will never pass.”
And so the darkness of that morning returned last weekend and all I could think of was the pain the Simoncelli family were about to endure.