When driving into Iowa City on 2nd Street, a right turn on Hawkins Drive will take you uphill on a curving road past Carver Hawkeye Arena and Duane Banks Field.
Driving down and then up another hill, Hawkins Drive will intersect with Evashevski Drive at a stop light. Every time I pass through that intersection I feel a punch to my chest that would bring many to their knees.
Over my lifetime, I’ve walked every street in this town at one time or another. But it’s this one block stretch of street that stops me.
In the autumn and early winter, from this spot one can hear the roar of the crowd at the Hawkeye’s Kinnick Stadium. In this spot you can hear the team battle as they score touchdown after touchdown. The sound rushes out of the stadium and pours onto the traffic surrounding Nile Kinnick Stadium. This, west side of the street, has born goosebump memories by the thousands since my first game in 1969.
The east side though, is very different. It is soundless, beyond quiet. The east side bears a world of bustling people armed with education and technology healing those in need.
The University of Iowa Hospitals are recognized across the country for excellence and research. They are in the business of hope and healing. But for the past 22 years I’ve not heard a sound from it. Everything has been silent since February 2nd, 1998, when my daughter, Natalie Jean Brown, took her last breath at 3 ½ as I stood by grief-stricken.
Never on this earth will I know of a spot like this one that runs between Hawkins and Evashevski. A street that separates moments of heightened joy and the deepest grief.
I celebrate six Saturdays each fall on the west side, screaming for the good guys to win and building a lifetime of shared memories with my ball game partner, Scott Nelson. And each Saturday, I momentarily will cast my eyes to the east for brief moment. When I do, I find that sadness moves at 100 miles per hour and strikes to overcome me. The sights, sounds, and smells are still fresh and will remain through the first deep breath, then another, as I attempt to squeeze a smile out her way.
Hawkins and Evanshevski. One place surrounded by two worlds.