If you haven’t heard of or attended Tenx9 a monthly storytelling event in Belfast’s Black Box – you are seriously missing out on a human wonder.
Participants tell a 9-10 minute story connected to a theme and I’m telling you there is a wondrous beauty there in all the stories, the characters who are doing the telling and the act of listening quietly, patiently – an ancient and lost art, vibrant, heartbreaking and uplifting. Furthermore it seems to be the event I’ve attended in the last two months in Belfast that seems to have not only survived but thrived in this season of protests – the place was packed, standing room only.
Among many stories this month we heard from Keira, who was terrifed before and drained afterwards when sharing this story of her own trans-formation about the family within ourselves:
Meet Kevin, my brother. He was a troubled person, he had good points but he also had his bad points, but he was a good friend to so many people and was very well loved. He found it so difficult to say no to people – he did it so he could be loved, he feared that by saying no people would think less of him.
Meet Kevin, my brother the boy who could laugh, the boy who could cry, the boy who was bullied, the boy who seemed to view the world from the outside looking in, the boy who grew up to be a female.
Meet Kevin, my brother, he was my protector, he gave himself up for me, he gave his life for mine. My heart goes out to my brother, I know the pain that he was in but he always had a smile.
Meet Kevin, my brother, he was the father to 2 wonderful girls both of who gave him so much pride and joy; he loved them both so deeply, as do I. He feels he let you down and that he should and could have tried harder with you both, but thanks to my brother I have a relationship with my daughters that I can be proud of, so meet Kevin, my brother, your dad.
Meet Kevin, my brother who will never know his grandchild, but I know he loved children, which is something he taught me and that he would be as proud of my granddaughter as I am with her. He taught me the wonders of children and how they view the world and through him I am Nana Keke to many.
Meet Kevin, my brother, he struggled throughout his life. He had a total lack of self-confidence and was so shy at times it was painful to watch and so cringe worthy, so meet Kevin, my brother the one who could never accept he was loved.
Meet Kevin, my brother who met and married someone, she nearly destroyed him and me by what she did to us, Kevin who was assaulted as a child in the park near where he lived, so meet Kevin, my brother the survivor.
Meet Kevin, my brother and also a brother to you, I know you miss him as well but know he did love you and he misses you as much as you miss him, I know each in your own way have had to deal with the loss of your brother, perhaps my living in Belfast made it easier perhaps it made it harder, only you can answer that. I know he would like me to say that you should just be happy for him now, this is what he wanted, remember him as part of a close family who were all loved, so for you meet Kevin our brother.
Meet Kevin, my brother, your son. I know you have struggled with what happened and that you don’t understand it, but I also know that you have accepted me as your daughter. It is a testament to you and how we were all brought up that you have managed to accept and love me as your daughter, so meet Kevin, my brother, your son.
Meet Kevin, my brother. I know I caused him a lot of his pain and that he could not understand what was going on, but I know he accepted his fate, he went for the operation fully aware of what the cost would be and he accepted that cost without any thoughts of backing out, or regrets. Yes he got nervous at the end, but that was due to him having what was his first and last operation, yet he could see the funny side of it, the view of not the sea in Brighton but of a car park, the fun in the bed getting wedged in the door on the way to the operating room.
Meet Kevin, my brother, it wasn’t all bad for him he did love his life as best he could, he loved his friends and family, he wasn’t a very tactile person but he did love you. At times he didn’t know how to ‘let go’ and just enjoy himself but he did try, he did find fun in his life but he needed to find contentment as well.
Meet Kevin, my brother, he struggled to find a place to fit in, he was a sad child and never understood the world he lived in, he could never voice this as he didn’t know how to say it or what to say. He would want you to know that despite all this he did know that this wasn’t the fault of any of you and that he did have fun times as well, playing cricket with all his brothers and sisters in Ruskin Park, playing with his friends, getting into trouble, and mischief.
Meet Kevin, my brother, he did feel in the shadow of others of his family, he was never academically minded and did feel that he needed to prove himself, but eventually recognised that he wasn’t learning for himself but to prove a point to others.
Meet Kevin, my brother your friend, you and he never met and never will now, but you grew up together and shared so much with your letters to each other. You shared your childhood and growing up with him, we now share our families and more, so meet Kevin, my brother your oldest friend.
Meet Kevin, my brother, he is someone I miss and I wish I had him as a friend now. As I write this I am tearful for the brother that I have lost, but I will never forget him and will always hold him in my heart, and I hope that someday all of you will be able to talk with me about him. He had to put up with so much in his life, but he never gave up, he always got up and tried again, time after time, so meet Kevin my brother the fighter.
Meet Kevin, my brother, I have so much that I want to say about him and share, but I also feel that I also need to learn from you about him. We had our fights as any brother and sister would and boy did we have some biggies, it is a wonder we talked. But he loved me and I loved him, we share the same gene pool, we shared the same body.
Meet Kevin, my brother, I hope that I can live up to his memory and that I don’t let that memory down, I am his legacy as all of you are with how you remember him and learn from him, so I suppose meet Kevin, my brother, the teacher we all never knew we had. He taught me to value you all and what it means to be loved and to love, he taught me to not to be selfish and that it is ok to look after yourself, he paid the ultimate sacrifice could any of us do the same, so meet Kevin, my brother who gave his life for me.
Meet Kevin, my brother, I do not think I can do my brother justice in the words I write and say but I hope that you feel that you are reminded about him and have got to know him, I want you to always remember Kevin and who he was and what he meant to each of you.
Meet Kevin, my brother, I can honestly speak for Kevin and myself here, the path he chose and that I followed is one that has no regret on it, proud to be who I am and where I came from, so meet Keira, your sister.
Meet Kevin, who I am proud to call my brother, I miss you my brother and I hope that you have found now what you were always searching for, peace. I just ask you all too forever remember Kevin, my brother.
They say a restless body
Can hide a peaceful soul
A voyager and a settler
They both have a distant goal
If I explore the heavens
Or if I search inside
Well, it really doesn’t matter
As long as I can tell myself, I’ve always tried
(Abba -Move On)