The Life of Brian

I remember attending a memorial service in college for a classmate who had died over break. The priest was so joyous. This was a great day! It was time to rejoice! To celebrate!

I wanted to do something very unholy with his hap-hap-happy exclamation points of expression. All I felt was sad and angry and thought he was conning us into feeling something different.

Twenty-five years or so on I still feel the same. I’m angry for a life snuffed too soon. But mainly I’m sad. I’m sad for Jacque, Colin and Lizzie. I’m sad for Gene, Joyce, and Kate. I’m sad for the Murphys, McMullens, Runfolas, Urinyis, Taylors…who orbited around the nucleus and center of gravitational pull that was Brian. In his family, among friends and even coworkers, Brian was the glue that brought people together and held them there. The proverbial straw that stirs the drink.

I’m sorry for the neighborhood kids who lost a piece of their youth. For the older ones and parents who saw the night falling but not for Brian. If it were an option, many would gladly trade places, I know.

Sorry for Brian Kick who was not like a brother to Brian but a brother in full.980376_10201452656257171_1826826656_o

For friends from high school and college who have been pushed from joyous dimly lit pubs of memory and into the cold bright light of adult reality.

I feel badly for his friends from New York whose stories of salad days surviving on forty dollars a week will never be recalled as fondly. I hope some day they will. I was in and out of that chapter of his life but know it was where much of the man he became started.

And I feel particularly bad for his many friends in Boston and his new hometown of Needham. It was only through them that Brian was able to move beyond his daily, nearly constant longing for Buffalo. In this regard, Brian was a big, hairy salmon always looking for the brook to Buffalo. His friends and neighbors in Needham let him enjoy enjoy where he was without forgetting where he was from.

Surprising no one, I feel badly for myself most. I’ll miss what we did and what we had yet to do. So much in both directions.

But twenty-five years on on even the greyest and dankest of mornings I sort of get what that priest was talking about those many years ago.

Slow learner.

I feel kind of happy underneath it all. Happy for proms and pranks. Happy for manhattans and Manhattan. Happy for times that felt big even in the moment and smaller ones that only feel big today.

When Karen went into labor with Delaney, Brian and Jacque were there to watch Kevin.

I guess we’ve come full circle. We’ll now be there to watch his family for him. Rather, with him.

Ah, the Life of Brian. A life in full, however brief.

*****

 

Addendum: I wrote this piece a year ago the morning after Brian’s funeral. Yesterday, I made this video as a sort of accompanying piece.


8 Comments on “The Life of Brian”

  1. Jeff Palopoli says:

    Fantastic post Pat! Brian certainly lived a life in full and made the most of each day. He had such an amazing spirit and he let his soul shine through, where everyone could see the type of man he was. I will miss him dearly, but will carry with me the many good times and laughs we shared over the years. So many things will make me thing of him, and I’m grateful for that.

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  2. Stephen says:

    Your a good pal, a good friend and in the end… Not such a slow learner….. I wish peace to you and all of Brian’s friends…

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  3. Doug Fox says:

    Thanks for your post Pat. It meant a lot. Still feels pretty raw this morning.

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  4. colleen says:

    Lovely tribute. Still inconceivable. 25 years ago and today. Wishing you and your family peace in your hearts.

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  5. Vince Tobia says:

    Well said Pat. I too have many good memories of Brian from years past, and will remember him fondly. He and his family will be in my prayers and he will be remembered until my last breath.

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  6. Drew Carney says:

    just saw this. crap. we are far too young….

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  7. Lyn Schwartz says:

    Hi Pat,
    Jacque just sent this to me today. I was crying reading it. It was sad and beautiful at the same time. As you know, we live across the street from the Murphy’s so I am reminded of our loss every day, every hour. Brian was a great friend and like a brother to both Bob and me. He was my tennis partner of 5 years, and Bob’s cycling partner of four years. Bob and I competed with each over Brian’s free time and, of course, Brian always had the best reply — “No need to fight, people — there’s plenty of me to go around.” That there was. I am so happy to know that Brian squeezed so much life out of his life. Somehow he managed to hold onto all of his friends, near and far, and had so much fun recounting all of the stories and memories that came with those friendships. We were friends for nine great years, and it amazes me how many times we still quote Brian or talk about how much he would have loved something we were doing or seeing. I can’t imagine how his family and life-long friends are coping. We are so grateful to live across the street so we can continue the traditions, memories and great family gatherings with Jacque, Colin and Lizzie. I know Brian loved his life, and I’m so grateful he was a part of ours for so many years. I hope you and his other friends are doing okay. Thanks again for this great post. He loved you and Karen so much. Hope to see you soon.
    Lyn

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  8. […] a little video I put together as a tribute to my dear friend Brian Murphy. Brian was taken from us nearly a year ago, so I got just a sliver of his fanbase together to say […]

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