Mark and Rachel Bookman playing in the backyard of their childhood home.

My Big Brother Mark’s Vision

Where to begin? It’s been almost a year since Mark and I last talked. We spoke about his upcoming move to Kyoto, the documentary, GLIDE, and what my next steps should be since I was leaving my job as a high school biology teacher due to repeated exposures and pneumonias. Mark advised that I create a sustainable 10-year plan… one with caregivers, remote work, and adaptive/assistive technologies. He encouraged me to share my experiences with others and I wanted to, but I was nervous. I was worried about putting myself out there, but he felt strongly that it was important for me to share my experiences as a disabled person and reminded me that I am fortunate to be in a position where I am able to share my story. I told him I’d think about it…

In the meantime, he strongly encouraged me to apply to the Women Leading Together: Solidarity in Storytelling Story Jam through the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston in partnership with StoryCenter. I was accepted into the program shortly after his passing and shared my story “Big Brother” about my relationship with Mark on our final session, which fell on his birthday.

Since then I have continued on in digital storytelling. I took Mark’s advice and have been sharing my life with others through social media. I want to continue Mark’s mission. His passion was contagious and touched so many lives. I hope to continue his work in any way that I can. While I do not speak Japanese or have a fraction of his knowledge, I am dedicated to his cause of making the world a more inclusive place for all. I am excited to be working with GLIDE to help Mark’s vision come to fruition. 

Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him. I miss my brother, and I also miss my friend. I feel so thankful for our time together (even though it was cut short) and that I will have the opportunity to see him again (on the big screen) very soon.