Jesse Masinter ’19 reflects upon legacy of brother Eric Masinter

By JESSE MASINTER

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On the Tuesday after I found out that my brother had died by suicide, one of my students told me that his best friend was his sunshine; she was his light when he felt himself surrounded by darkness. Eric was not like the warmth of sunshine. Eric was my moonlight—that cool, beautiful brilliance that perfectly complements the starry darkness of the universe. He was an ever-changing yet constant presence that filled me with wonder at the creative capacity of the human soul. 

I started to draw and paint and write because he drew, and painted, and wrote—because once we were sitting on the thin mattress of his college dorm-room bed and I lamented the insignificance of human life, lamented that we are just specks of dust crying out into the void and so often we leave nothing behind but a few memories. And he was flipping through his sketchbook as he sat at the bench of his electric piano and he said—look, this is me, crying out into the void.

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He cried out into the void in a voice tinged with the comic absurdity of his melodica, an instrument that ridiculously combines a mouth nozzle with a miniature keyboard. Unnecessary. Absurd. Hilarious. And beautiful for being a combination of those qualities. Eric loved that melodica because he knew it was the result of trying to create meaning in a universe without any meaning at all, and he was someone who fundamentally understood the importance of creating your own meaning. 

Even though his striving has ceased, I will forever be grateful for the inspiration he gave me to cultivate my own creativity, to unabashedly pursue something that other people don’t consider valuable, because you love the process of striving. 

Like staring up at the moon, there were times he felt just out of reach. As we spent this last year together at Middlebury, I saw him growing into the kind of man I didn’t just love as a brother, but a person I deeply enjoyed being around—a talented young man with varied passions and an edge of cynical humor that put the world in a new perspective. And it hurts beyond words to know that I lost him just as I was getting to know him. 

I hate when people tell me things will get better. Because love and suffering go hand in hand, and if I ever cease to suffer at the loss of him, I will have ceased to love him. And that, I refuse to do.

Editors’ note: Eric Masinter ’21 died by suicide July, 2019. Eric took his life during a cross-country road trip returning to his home in Colorado from Middlebury, according to an all-school email from President Laurie L. Patton sent on July 11.  

Eric is survived by his parents, Rob ’86 and Kathy, and siblings Jess ’19 and Sarah, U.S. Air Force Academy ’21. He was previously a contributing writer to the the Campus. 

Those of us on the editorial board who worked with Eric were heartbroken by this news. Eric displayed thoughtful writing ability through the valuable contributions he made to the news and features sections of this paper. During his time at the Campus, Eric’s reporting focused on the greater Middlebury community, covering the achievements of alumni and students. We as a board would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Masinter family and to Eric’s close friends. 

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