This morning, I received the most shocking and terrible news from my mother.
She e-mailed me to say that she had just learned my best friend, Brian, passed away yesterday. He is my friend who I just last week learned was suffering from liver disease and needed a liver transplant. I thought we had more time. I was wrong.
I am in shock. I can't stop crying.
Will you indulge me a little while I remember him? It will provide me with some comfort and solace to do so.
Brian lived two houses down from me. I'm the oldest in my family, and so is he. We became the best of mates. He's like the big brother I always wanted but never had. He took care of me at school. He was always there to play with.
He could belch the entire song, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog..." in about 2 belches.
This one's for you, my friend:
He taught me all kinds of tricks with the yo-yo. He chipped his front tooth trying to show me how to do the trick where you throw the yo-yo out in front of you and catch it by your chest.
He taught me how to spit. But I could never spit a loogie like he could.
He had the most awesome beer can collection you've ever seen...yes, even back then. He still has it. He showed it to me this past spring.
We went to see Mel Brooks' High Anxiety. I laughed, but I was too young to really understand it all. I couldn't let him know I didn't quite get it, though. I laughed pretty hard when I watched it again when I was older.
We made prank phone calls to the dorms at UNC-Chapel Hill that night. That was pretty fun.
He had a motorcycle as a teenager. I always thought he was so cool with his leather jacket and motorcycle. Well...he was cool!
All through the years, we wrote letters and made audiotapes for each other. We mailed the tapes/letters and kept in touch for years.
About every 5 to 10 years, we'd get together. One time, he was back in Iowa visiting his Grandma and Grandpa. I drove to their house to see him.
One time, I was in Washington DC for a meeting (and he lived not far away). I went to see him.
One time, I was in the Atlanta area (he lived not far away), so I went to see him.
He moved around a lot for a while. I went to see him whenever I could
I was good at visiting. He was good at calling and writing.
He would call me on the phone, and we'd talk for at least an hour every time. Whenever we saw or talked to each other, it was like no time had passed at all since the last time we had talked. You know what that's like.
He was a huge Packer fan. Go, Pack!
He was a wonderful cook.
He had an incredibly quick wit and was sooooo sarcastic.
He was always upbeat and positive. He always saw the best in people and could find the silver lining.
He adored his wife and daughter so much. When I would visit him and she was away from us, he'd call her like 5 times a day, and they'd whisper sweet nothings to each other. His wife and daughter were the light of his life.
I could tell Brian anything. Like I said, he was like my big brother. When I decided to divorce my first husband, it was him I called first. I told him what was going on. He didn't judge me. He just listened, gave me advice if I asked for it, and was there for emotional support.
He worked for the VA system for a long time and was so successful. He was always being promoted. He was really good at his job. But he longed to own his own business. So, he saved up enough money so he could take a year's leave of absence and give it a go. And he did it. He was successful at it and left his job at the VA. I was so proud of him that he was living his dream and was willing to take a risk like that. I'm not sure I am enough of a risk taker to do that.
We always had a deal (which we made sometime when we were about 15 or so) that if one of us got lucky enough to be a millionaire (through the lottery or hard work), we'd split the second million with the other. So, when he opened his business and did so well, he sent me a check from the business for something like $10.78. Along with it was a letter, expaining how he was holding up his end of the deal and sharing the second million with me, but after all the taxes and legal fees, this is all that was left. See what I mean about his sense of humor? I still have that check. I had planned to frame it. I think I still will.
This spring, he invited me and my husband to THE Master's Tournament. We had such a good time. It was so nice to see him. I saw his dad again, for the first time since 1978!!! (I blogged about that trip here.)
My parents were always amazed at how well we kept in touch and what good friends we had stayed. In fact, we stayed closer than my parents did to his parents. My parents still love and care for his parents, but--you know how it is--sometimes you just sort of lose touch with each other.
My first husband was always jealous of Brian. Thought it was weird that a guy and a girl could be such good friends for so long. I guess that says a lot about why we aren't together anymore. Papa Pea gets it.
Brian always knew where you could get the best wings, clams...whatever food you wanted. I kept trying to get a photo of Papa Pea and him together, but I couldn't get them to look at me at the same time. In this photo, Brian was like, "Take the damn picture!" This was the last time I saw him.
I'm going to miss him so much. There is a huge hole in my heart today.
To be honest, I'm pretty damn mad at him, too. He knew he was sick since June, and he didn't tell me. I have been meaning to call him for the past few days, ever since his mom finally told me he was sick. But for one reason or another, I just didn't get it done. I was going to do it first thing this morning. And then I got my mom's e-mail. IT'S NOT FAIR!!! I thought we had more time! I was going to go visit him as soon as I could. I thought we had more time. Why didn't he tell me?! I know he didn't want his friends to worry, but he should have let me worry about that. Not him....
I just checked his Facebook page. All sorts of notes from his friends and family. I started crying all over again.
His mom made a Facebook post that said Brian wanted a party and celebration of life after his service. So, that's what they're planning. He apparently left an IOU for $10,000 in his dad's wallet and said he was looking forward to his party. See what kind of wonderful guy he was?! That just shows you what his outlook on life was like. God, I love him.
Well, it's a good lesson for us all to remember. We always think we have more time than we do. Who do you love but haven't talked to or visited recently? Better get on the stick and take care of it.
Are you taking care of yourself? I hope so. Because think of all your loved ones, and if you don't do it for yourself, do it for them. I need to work on this myself.
Anyway, my dear friend, Brian....I love you, and I will miss you always. You were the best friend I've ever had, and probably ever will have. No one else has known me as long or as well as you. You are one of the few people I could say anything to...talk about anything with.
I'm having a pretty tough time concentrating on things. I'll try to get other blog posts up as promised. But we'll see how it goes. It might be a nice distraction for me and something more positive to think about.
Please keep Brian's family (wife, daughter, parents, sibling) in your thoughts and prayers. They will need strength to get through this. It has all been so sudden and such a shock to them.
And to my friends and family, I know I don't say it enough, but I love and cherish each and every one of you. Please forgive me when I don't call, write, or visit enough. I am going to try to do better with that...in Brian's honor...because he was always good at that.
I'm going to quit feeling sorry for myself now, and just be grateful that I had a friend like Brian for as long as I did.
Until next time,