I was not always an only child. For a week of my life, in the early days of January 1996, I had a brother. His name was Matthew Joseph Lowe. He passed away peacefully in my house, but has remained in my life ever since. Winter holidays have maintained a sort of shadow to them, full of “what ifs” and “I wonders.”
Ever since that day in 1996, I have been given the sole responsibility of all of my parents’ hopes and dreams for their children. Matthew’s presence in my life therefore exists as my motivation to succeed and keep his memory alive.
My Georgetown experience, as the son of a Georgetown alum, and brother to Matthew Joseph, was laden with pressures. Georgetown seemed like it would be the best fit for me, and it offered everything I wanted in a school: great academics, an amazingly diverse student body, a beautiful campus — now besmirched by almost apocalyptic amounts of construction — and a long history of successful alumni. But knowing that your family’s future is riding on your success or failure at this institution was a tough pill to swallow on top of all the other pressures and stresses that comes with being a Georgetown student.
Freshman year was a year of learning. Learning who my friends were, learning how to be a good roommate, learning how to talk to the fairer sex and, if I’m being honest, learning how to chug a beer as quickly as possible without spilling it all over myself. Along the way I think I lost some of that motivation that brought me to this place. I was afraid of the added pressure of living my life both for myself and Matthew. The recognition that I had lost something important came during a particularly dark time in my life following freshman year, when I was unsure if I’d even be coming back to Georgetown.
Following the common mistakes many students tend to make during freshman year, I began to rediscover that drive, and that shadow of my brother came back to me. I realized that this school and all its pressures and glory should not intimidate me; rather, the competition and social pressures that this school engenders are there to improve me and constantly challenge me to be my best self. There have been times, even after the petty mistakes of freshman year, that I have without a doubt not been my best self, but every time that I slip up I am drawn back to the memory of Matthew.
So this senior spring semester, my Georgetown experience will be one that celebrates Matthew’s impact on my life. His absence encourages me to live my life to the fullest: professionally, academically, socially and spiritually. Whether I accepted his presence in my life or not, he has ended up coloring my experience at Georgetown.
Growing up, my parents always told me that he was my guardian angel, and though I don’t always feel it, his presence has unquestionably shaped who I am today. And though the pressures have been daunting, I need him in my life.
Charlie Lowe in a senior in the School of Foreign Service. Parth Shah is a senior in the College. Their column Many Georgetowns appears every other Tuesday.