The T-Shirt and the Tears
I’m currently at a conference in Chicago which happens every year about this time and includes many of my dearest friends from all over the world. I get to see some of them on and off during the year, but never this many all in the same place at the same time. Except one; in the past year our friend Brian was killed in a motorcycle accident.
He was a much-beloved hard-working volunteer, with a strong back and a sharp mind always ready to lend a hand. He was also generous beyond belief – there was a kind of running joke whenever we all would go out for dinner, because he had a ninja-like skill for paying the check for everyone before we even realized we’d finished.
There is a memorial planned for him this weekend as part of the official event, but several of us who were closer to him have our own ceremonies. There was a tiny one last night at the meet and greet, when a mutual friend handed me a bag. “These are three of Brian’s t-shirts,” he told me. “They’re for his mensches. Pick the one you want to keep, and get the others back.
I took them back to my room. I laid them on the bed. I saw the hand-printed one that he and I had both acquired about ten years ago from an artist in Texas. That was the one – and as I put it on, it was like Brian giving me a hug.
I cried. Just a little. It was private. But I remembered Brian.
Dedicating the Self
Today I facilitate an open space for about 500 people. I did this last year, too, and Brian couldn’t be there. I remember so clearly talking to him beforehand, how he’d smiled and told me about his plans to take his girlfriend sightseeing. I remember hugging him, and laughing and saying “she’s a lucky womon, and you’d just better bring her next year to the Open Space!” He had laughed with me, and said he would.
I’m not sad that he’s not going to be there today. I’m sad he’s not here at all. But I’m grateful for his love and friendship over the years, because it comes together in a simple perogative for me: I’m going to create an Open Space that Brian would have loved.
That motivation is his love and friendship still supporting me, still making my life better. Love may pass, but there’s no reason the memories of love have to lose their power to make life wonderful.
Thank you, Brian. Requiescat In Pace.