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Recent SIU graduate remembers brother killed in Bloomington
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Recent SIU graduate remembers brother killed in Bloomington

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BLOOMINGTON — The two brothers shared a moment that day.

Martiece Arrington, now a recent graduate from SIU in Carbondale, remembers July 7, 2009, as the day he finally became the older brother that he wanted to be — someone that 10-year-old Travell could look up to, although they were just a year apart in age. 

They were riding bikes that afternoon, Martiece standing on the back of Travell’s bike.

Their moment came when Travell pedaled down a hill in Bloomington, his voice at an almost "squeal" from fear, brother Martiece guiding him to slow down. 

“It was a happy feeling, like, ‘OK, I’m finally becoming this older brother, I’m finally allowing him to become a big boy,’” Martiece remembers today. “As a big brother, you always shield your younger brother. In that moment, I felt I was finally letting go and allowing him to become himself. ...We had a special moment there.” 

That would be the last ride — and one of the last moments — the two would share.

After dropping Martiece off at the family’s apartment, Travell pedaled away, planning to grab gas station snacks for a group of family and friends hanging out that afternoon. 

Travell never made it back.

A semi-truck turning from Brown Street into the parking lot of the gas station at 1520 W. Market St. struck the boy and killed him. The driver told authorities he hadn’t seen the boy while turning. No charges were filed.

“The family never recovered from that — it was different,” Martiece said in an interview. “It was different. I don’t think everyone has gotten over it.” 

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For Martiece, the loss fueled a creative project.

“The Unknown," a book dedicated to telling the Arrington family's story and coming to terms with the death of Travell, embodies both poetic and novelistic forms. 

"For the past almost half-a-decade, since I entered college and then finally graduated, I've been working on this poem," he said. "This is my way of, I wouldn't say fully accepting his death, but providing a gift to him, in a sense. I don't think I'll ever accept it. It is what it is, but the best way for me to look at it is he would want me to do this right now. He would want me to share his story with the world."

That story starts in Chicago, where the family lived until 2007, and follows them as they move to Bloomington, where "Mom worked varied shifts" and "my father — he got locked up about a year before my younger brother passed, so it was a single-parent home." 

The book charts not only the challenges the brothers faced, but also the fact that "somehow, we survive(d) in a world where children barely grow to see 18." 

"His story is amazing: It's heartfelt, it's heartbreaking, it's heart-warming," Martiece said. 

Martiece recently graduated with a communications degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, but promoting this book and this story, he said, is his vocation right now. 

"Many folks have suggested to me to go graduate school. Many folks have suggested that I go to law school," he said. "I could go out and get a job, take my degree and go to different state and get a job with my degree. But I think my main focus is this: My younger brother's poem. This is my job."

Said Martiece: "I also want to inspire others. I'm not the only person in the world that has lost a significant other. I want to express to others, inspire others to know that you, too, can get over the one you love the most passing away."  


 

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