A slender vine with tiny leaves reaches from the left. Mountains painstakingly etched in the background rise from behind.
Goodman said it helps to have a tangible object to hold.
“It just give you something you can feel and look at,” Goodman said as she rubbed the heart. “I would rather have my brother — of course I would. You know, naturally. But I like to think it was made in his honor.”
Marc Goodman passed away a little over a year ago, on Dec. 23. His death was unexpected and has been keenly felt by Goodman and her daughter Victoria. The three had already discussed what should be cooked for Christmas. Plans were made. Presents were bought.
Suddenly, Marc was gone.
The loss of her older brother has been difficult for Goodman. Daryl Shearin, a friend of Goodman’s through her job at the YMCA, noticed her ongoing distress. He wanted to help.
Inspiration struck when he saw an article on Cleveland High students making ceramic hearts for the Hospice of Chattanooga.
He contacted art teacher Laura Gheesling to see about the possibility of having a heart made for Goodman.
Gheesling agreed and asked art student Queesha Patton to complete the project. Patton expressed a genuine interest in the request. She shook off the nerves and jumped into the project with rising excitement.
“I added a lot of detail,” Patton said. “The vine itself took me about three days. Crafting the heart took me about a week. I just really had to take my time to get everything right.”
Gheesling stayed in communication with Shearin for about four weeks. She asked Shearin for details on Marc; whether Marcia would prefer white or red clay; and what colors to use.
A final design was chosen for Patton to complete. She said she had become attached to the heart by the time the project was done.
Gheesling notified Shearin who in turn picked up the heart from the school. He asked the art students to sign a card for Goodman several days prior to the big reveal.
Goodman never suspected a surprise was coming.
Sherin approached the YMCA and asked Goodman’s boss, the aquatics director, to join them. He then presented the heart, the card and a bouquet of flowers from him and the YMCA to a shocked Goodman.
“What really surprised me was the fact it had mountains and tree branches on it,” Goodman said. “I don’t think they knew this, but Marc had a heart attack while hiking in the mountains in Jasper.”
Now the heart stays with Goodman in a bag, where it does not get damaged.
She recently stopped by the high school to thank Patton and Gheesling in person. Patton said seeing how much the heart means to Goodman made it easy to let it go.
Added the high school student, “I almost started crying myself.”
Tears began their descent a year ago and have since remained a part of Goodman’s life.
She said she misses the man who was her brother and first friend.
“He would have given the shirt off of his back. I know people say that, but it is true,” Goodman said. “He was more generous and more forgiving than anyone I’ve ever met. He was accepting of everyone and he stood up for what he believed in.”
Friends and acquaintances have continued to express their grief over the passing of the young BlueCross BlueShield production assistant.
“People come up to me and say, ‘I can’t believe your brother is gone.’ Most people say, ‘I will miss his smile so much,’” Goodman said. “He just had a great smile. He was so precious. Just a precious, precious person.”
She said the tears are fewer now than they were a year ago, but Marc’s memory continues to live on. First in her thoughts, and now in the heart she keeps tucked safely away.