Monday, March 7, 2016

For Brian

When you are an awkward teenage girl with no prospects and you go to the beach and meet a really great guy who doesn't know you are supposed to be awkward, your whole world can change.  I was that girl, and Brian Fleenor was that guy.  We met at St. George Island one night and sat together by a bonfire, confessing to each other our demons and dreams, as if we had been friends forever.  After that starry, remarkable night, we parted ways - ostensibly forever, as these things go.  Then weeks later, I received the most beautiful letter from him, telling me how incredible it was to meet me, and how our time together was bookmarked in his mind as one of those significant "life moments."  We kept in touch, he came to visit me in my small town, and he managed to make me feel more special and important than any boy ever had.

He did all these things without even once kissing me or holding my hand. We had connected in a way that didn't require anything more.

Years later, we would find each other again, after he met some of my friends at the same beach.  And then once more, thanks to social media.  I was able to see that he was happily married with an adorable son, and he could see that I had also found my way into a loving marriage with kids of my own.  We couldn't believe that our brief time together would result in a Facebook Friending!  But that is the way of the world in this new technological age.

I write about these memories now, because Brian died today.

He battled brain cancer until he could battle no more.  I find myself feeling the loss more deeply than I expected - it has been 20 years since we spoke.  But Brian was special, because he was the only man, until my husband, that showed me respect, interest, and caring without any physical expectations.  He made me feel that I was a beautiful, worthy person, no strings attached. 

I pray for Brian's wife and son, and for the family and friends that loved him so well.  And I hope that Brian, who is resting now in eternal peace, is settled in by a roaring fire on a sandy beach, surrounded by the loving spirits of all the lives he touched.  He made a difference to me, even if for one night.

Never underestimate how your life can be a blessing to another --- that is Brian's legacy, and I hope I can pay it forward.

Until next time, keep crowin' and making special moments with the ones you love.

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