The Life of BrianPosted: June 12, 2013
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.
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.
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.