Brian, you had the absolute best and most contagious laugh on the planet!! As soon as I saw this video I knew it was something that would have made you laugh uncontrollably and that made me smile. So enjoy this ridiculous video, dude.  I’ll be hearing your laugh inside my heart!

Ernest Hemingway’s Toilet

December 27, 2013

toilet

I’m not sure why I found it so funny… but at Brian’s place there was a painting hanging above the toilet in his bathroom.  It apparently was a painting of Ernest Hemingway’s toilet at his place in Key West.  It just seemed like such a “Brian” thing to do… decorate his bathroom with a picture of a toilet– and hang it directly over his own toilet, nonetheless.

Mom sent me this picture last week and I proudly hung it up over my own toilet.  I laugh each time I look at it!

NFL Draft Time!!!

April 26, 2013

This time of year makes me miss a special tradition Brian and I used to share.  Despite my minimal interest in the NFL draft, let alone the game of football itself, Brian and I spent the weekend of the draft hanging out and eating pizza, talking and laughing and intermittenly napping.  He even let me have his prized recliner for the festivities.  I had very little interest in what was happening but I enjoyed that weekend so much and always looked forward to all the great chatter and trash talk leading up to it.  He used to email back and forth with me for weeks before the draft asking me silly questions like this one dated April 9, 2008:

“So do you think that Vernon Gholston should be climbing the charts into the top 3 picks or is he better to fall down to a 6 or 7 when either the Jets or Patriots who can us him as OLB in the 3-4??”

Now what that translated to in my head was not unlike the unformed sounds of the Charlie Brown teacher.  I’ve looked everywhere for my response but couldn’t find it in all my saved emails; but I know I wrote something a little sarcastic… something along the lines of, “I do appreciate your desire to get my input but I can’t be rushed into these decisions. I’m really feeling the pressure here, Brian.  The draft comes but once a year and I need some additional time to think this over.”  Or something like that… because here was his exact reply:

“You know, so far you have handled this question perfectly.  The draft is an emotional time for a lot of people… but you didn’t make a rash decision just to answer the question.  Time is of the essence, but it’s still somewhat on your side– you have 16 days until the draft.  You don’t need to decide on Gholston today– you didn’t answer the question right away and realized that you aren’t going to take anyone’s word of mouth or get caught up in Combine numbers, but rather that you need to watch some game tape.  You just need to be damn sure that you know which name should be on the cards in what order when they go up to the podium on draft day.”‘

He knew that I didn’t understand a darn thing we were talking about… we’d exchange witty banter for weeks leading up to draft day and I always looked forward to it.

My favorite draft year was 2007– he asked who I thought should be the Vikes’ first draft pick and I immediately said “Amobi Okoye.”  He thought it a curious choice and was facetiously disturbed at the obvious lack of substance behind my reasoning–because he had a bitchin’ name!!  “What about his strengths on the field?  His weaknesses?  What can he bring to the team?  How would the Vikes benefit long-term from this pick?  Can they afford to drop other picks to be sure they secure him and SHOULD they?” Blah, blah, blah.  I said, “His name stands alone!  Say it with me…AMOBI OKOYE!!!”  I teased him about that for the next few years and it never got old.  I’d blurt that name out to him when it didn’t even make sense.  I’d say, “Hey, Boy!  I learned how to say ‘please pass the gravy’ in Swahili– it’s Amobi Okoye!” Or he’d ask me, “So Dude!  Which team do you see going up against the Patriots in the Super Bowl?”  My answer?  “Amobi Okoye.” Or he’d say,  “Hey, Dude.  Should I grab us a Papa Murphy’s for tonight or should we get something delivered?  My answer?  “Amobi Okoye!”  “Dude, what time do you get off work on Friday?”  Again, I answered, “Amobi Okoye.”   He’d say, “that doesn’t even make sense.”   To which I’d reply, “Dude.  The question matters not.  The answer is ALWAYS Amobi Okoye.”

I miss him so damn much.  So much I may even go watch the draft somewhere and imagine him yapping in my ear!

So I’ve been feeling the urge to start singing more again… and just put the feelers out for any groups looking for a backing vocalist for their projects. I’ve gotten a few good responses and am planning on meeting with some of the musicians to see if we might be a good fit. As a result, I was reminded of a great Brian story.

Back around 1999 or so, while Brian and I were living together, I was seeking out musical outlets and had responded to a few ads for artists or bands looking for a female harmony vocalist to add to their group. I did meet up with one man and while it turned out to be just fine, the experience did leave me with a feeling of…”Did I REEEEALLY just show up at a stranger’s garage apartment by myself? At night?? In the ‘hood???” So I decided my next audition would include my brother Brian, my very own bodyguard. He wasn’t super excited about going as he was pretty busy that evening, but he went with me anyway as I told him it shouldn’t take too long– we were just going to quickly run through a few songs.

We showed up and the guy greeted us and showed us around his home and studio and offered Brian a cold beer. His eyes lit up as he sipped his frothy beverage and spotted a pinball machine in the corner. The guy saw him oogling it and said, “You are free to play that while we rehearse over here if you’d like. And the fridge is in the next room… help yourself to another beer when you’re ready.”

Brian was grinning like a delirious fool the entire time and was actually pretty disappointed when it was time to leave. “Are you sure you guys gave it enough practice for tonight? One more song? I was totally owning that pinball machine and the beer was pretty tasty.” He said he would gladly make himself available to me for future rehearsals.

I miss my beer-drinking, pinball-playing bodyguard.

9 Years Ago Today…

April 2, 2013

family04012013_0000

flower girl

I love these pictures… my favorite family photo with all 4 of us and the picture of Brian acting all girly with my bouquet since he was lovingly dubbed my “flower girl.”

Happy Birthday, Brian!

February 10, 2013

brian face

Today Brian would have turned 38 years old. My tradition for his birthday is to watch his favorite movie, Gladiator, and eat pizza– his favorite food!

I remember the first time I saw Gladiator. Brian and I were living together in an apartment and were going to be hosting Thanksgiving at our place back in November of 2000. We watched it together as the turkey was cooking and of course I cried like a baby at the end. He loved that movie so much! He even was nuts about the soundtrack which I thought was just so fascinating; he typically was listening to Pantera, White Zombie, Metallica, etc. But he used to put the Gladiator Soundtrack on in his car (a black, Honda Civic hatchback he lovingly named “Blackula”), roll down the windows and just rock out to that stuff. Totally made me smile.

But looking back I can totally see why he really connected with the movie. Maximus was a man of great honor and strong, moral character and so was Brian. Maximus fought for things he felt were right and so did Brian. In fact one of the things that ended up pushing Brian over the edge was having so much trouble, in his own words, “watching the world continue to undo itself.” He was so deeply affected seeing all the hate and unrest in the world and felt powerless to do anything about it.

There is a scene in the movie where just prior to his final battle in the colosseum Commodus stabs him in the back, deeply wounding him. They bandage him up and put on his armor to cover the injury so the crowd would know nothing of this “imbalance” in the fairness of the battle. Maximus spoke of it to no one; he went into the battle and fought the best he could though gravely injured.

While not the same, it reminds me of something that happened to Brian at work. He was working so very hard and was given a great deal of extra work to do to help make up for another member of his team that rarely showed up to work but made a lot more money than Brian did. His manager continuously bombarded Brian with not only his own projects, but the projects of his absent, higher-paid co-worker.

When management caught wind of the work that Brian was doing, they approached him and asked him why he was doing those projects that were not his responsibility. Brian told them his manager asked him to do so. However, when his boss was approached about it, she completely threw him under the bus! She told the management team that she gave “no such instructions” and that Brian took it upon himself to involve himself in those projects all on his own. As a result, he was reprimanded and it was suggested that he “resign.”

While Brian had all the requests from his manager documented and could have presented that to management to defend himself, he chose not to do so. He told me the job didn’t make him very happy to begin with and his manager was a single mom– he didn’t want her to get fired when he knew she had a child to support. He chose to instead give his notice and bow out gracefully without having cleared his own name. That’s just the way Brian was. He often put others before himself even if they didn’t deserve it.

I have often thought that Maximus, like Brian, chose to keep the “back stabbing” to himself because he had nothing more to lose– he had already, in essence, given up. That incident at work was less than one year before he died.

Maximus once said to his comrades, “Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity.” I think Brian’s kindness continues to live on!

Tonight I will be joined by my amazing friend Leashya and we will watch Gladiator, enjoy some pizza and toast a glass of wine to the memory of a worthy soul.

In Dreams

February 9, 2013

I’m sharing this note I wrote to myself at 3:00 in the morning on December 1, 2010 just 6 short weeks after Brian died. I had the most amazing dream but to describe it as just a dream feels so inadequate as I am unequivocally certain it was a visit from Brian. While to this day it has been the most beautiful experience of my life, it has left me achingly sad nearly every morning since as I continue to wish for another visit each time my head hits the pillow at night. Here is what I wrote immediately upon waking up that night:

I just woke up from a dream I had about Brian.

Mom and I were somewhere… I believe it was supposed to be his place although everything looked different. I heard his voice– very groggy, as though he was just waking up– he was calling my name saying, “Laura…. Laura…. it’s Brian.” I was frantically looking around thinking there is no way I could have just heard what I thought I heard.

I ran down the stairs and as I approached the last few steps I saw him coming towards me– he had some tubes hooked up to him, like an breathing tube going to his nose. I sat on the bottom few steps with Mom sitting next to me a step above as he stood on the floor next to the staircase and took both of my hands in his– again, I thought there is no way this is happening– could he really be here with us now?

I glanced at Mom and cried as I asked her, “Mommy, what is happening?” I needed to see if she was hearing and seeing what I was– and she assured me that she was; however, I sensed from her that it didn’t mean he was alive. I looked at Brian again– he looked really good. He looked so peaceful and rested and happy; he had that pink glow in his cheeks and his eyes told me he was OK. I asked him how he was– he said, “I’m alright now. I was cured the moment I passed away. I love you very much and miss you.” I told him I loved him and missed him… and hugged him and cried. Again, I kept looking at Mom to see if she was hearing it– and she was. But she stayed there quietly next to me and watched and listened… like she knew this moment with Brian was meant just for me.

Mom and I were then saying our goodbyes downstairs to him as if we were leaving his place like any other time before; Mom asked, “Are you going to be OK? What are you going to do now?” He said, “I’m good. I’m going to just run out for a bit;” he had a cup of coffee and reached for his keys– as if he was truly only going to hop in in his red Saturn and go for a drive.

That’s the last I remember before waking up… and I woke up feeling so peaceful and grateful that I’d had this dream. I have been hoping to dream about him like this– and I hope it is a gift from Brian– I hope it was really him telling me he is OK now.

I’ve had other dreams about him since but none remotely like this– and anyone who has lost someone dear to them has had a dream such as this knows exactly what I’m talking about. There was something so profoundly peaceful and heavenly about that dream that no one could ever convince me that my brother did not come to me that night to bring me a little comfort.

Plastic Babies!!

February 7, 2013

bag of babiesbaby

After we’d moved our Grandma into an assisted living facility Brian, Mom and I were going through the contents of the house preparing to sell it. We had a lot of fun finding pictures we’d never seen, knick knacks we used to play with as kids and the occasional butterscotch hard candy.

For some reason he giggled so hard when we found a few small bags full of little plastic babies amongst her craft supplies. He didn’t know it at the time, but I took the bags of babies with me to have a little fun. I started out by hiding the first one in his jacket… and laughed until I nearly cried when he texted me to say he’d found a creepy little plastic baby in his jacket pocket.

When I’d stay over at his place to take care of his cats, Maximus and Marcus, I’d bring a bag of babies with me and hide them everywhere. He’d find them all over the place! In a box of cereal! In a stack of towels in the hall closet! Under the driver’s seat in his car! In the silverware drawer! Inside a tub of sour cream! He’d step into a shoe only to find a creepy, plastic baby stuffed into it. Damn, I’d laugh so hard every single time I’d hear from him after finding yet another one of those little things.

In fact, when we cleaned out his townhome after he died we all laughed when we continued to find the little babies everywhere! I kept them all and even have one sitting on my desk at work where I can see it every single day. Each time I look at it I swear I can still hear Brian’s amazing, infectious laugh!!

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