I want my purpose to outweigh my pain.
I haven’t written in a while because I began working on a presentation about Bryan’s life for a community outreach and it kind of took up my brain for a while. Now it’s ready to be presented in March (postponed due to the recent blizzard) for HFMA (Healthcare Financial Management Association). The focus of the talk helped me to write this entry. For that I am grateful.
It is an interesting journey to try to put down in words and images the life of my child. It seems impossible. How does a mom explain the adoration she has for her children? Are there words that can express the depth and breadth of love a mother has for her children? I don’t think there are, but what I do know is when any of us have loved deeply, endlessly, with our whole hearts, then trying to find the words to paint this picture is not necessary because our hearts understand. We all know what it means to love beyond ourselves, beyond our lives, beyond this world.
We know love.
As I began writing this blog entry, the one thing I have wanted to make sure I was accomplishing in my work and life, as I navigate this devastating loss, is for my purpose to outweigh my pain. I truly believe that is what Bryan wants also. I often ‘heard’ him in my heart and mind as I was composing my talk, choosing photographs that would symbolize his life, and I would smile at his ‘comments.’ To be remembered as an addict, singularly, without any other attributes or honoring of his life’s work and his love for his world of family and friends and students, would be a disservice to his memory.
So, how does one balance so many truths about an incredible young man?
How is the disease of addiction woven through the tapestry of Bryan’s life? How do I explain it, honor him, share my love and adoration for my son? How can I convey who Bryan was, and who he is now in my heart?
What is Bryan’s legacy?
I will begin by telling you who he was. If you knew him, you know how true my words are, if you didn’t, you will discover what an extraordinary man he was.
“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.” ~ Mitch Albom
Bryan loved his family. His brothers were always on his mind. When I look through the pictures of Bryan with his brothers he is leaning toward them, on them. Family was everything to him.
Bryan was kind, he rarely, if ever, had a negative word about anyone. He always saw another side of a person, a situation. He championed the underdog, he supported those in pain. He was an advocate for everyone to find their own way. Bryan’s mantra was “Be you.”
Bryan accepted everyone, but he also expected acceptance from them. When that didn’t happen Bryan would talk about it, talk to the person about their different perspectives, and if there was still a distance then Bryan would wish them well and move on. No hard feelings.
Bryan’s close friends have big hearts, they each found each other and developed this world of support that never wavered. It was an amazing thing to behold.
Bryan became a special education teacher, he traveled, he loved, and he lived. He felt deeply and he loved endlessly. Family, friends, all he met found a place in his heart.
Bryan was funny. He would ‘do voices’ to show me how someone had behaved or most times, how I had responded to something and I would laugh out loud. He was never mean, it was always, and I mean always in the spirit of goodwill. He was curious. If it was something that interested him, he would pursue it. He needed to know how things worked and that often led to him dismantling things, (phones, computers, his crib) to discover how they ‘worked.’ He didn’t like it when anyone was treated poorly. Bryan didn’t see separation, he saw everyone’s heart and he honored them.
“The journey to happiness involves finding the courage to go down into ourselves and taking responsibility for what we find there: all of it.” ~ Richard Rohr
Bryan made mistakes, he made choices that hurt himself and his family. His journey was filled with both great joy and deep despair. He became addicted to drugs and our family was deeply hurt. His brothers saw a side of him they didn’t know existed. They talked to him about it, they shared their hurt, their fear. They brought an honesty to the situation that no one else could supply. They were his brothers. His best friends. He looked up to them and loved them. The disease threatened to take that away.
When he was in his addiction he could be unrecognizable. The resultant fear, anger, frustration, and pain we all experienced, including Bryan, is beyond imagination.
So, he fought it, again and again. He lived, he battled, he succeeded, he owned it. And, unfortunately, in September, 2016, he lost the battle he was trying to win.
Upon his passing, all the anger, hurt, and heartache disappeared. Because, the reality is, when Bryan recognized his powerlessness over the disease, when he named it as he learned about it, found strategies to live with it, and as he fought it with all of his being, Bryan made sure he lived. And with his living, we lived with him.
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived
Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I’ll say…
I, I did it all
I, I did it all (OneRepublic, 2014)
Bryan was a fighter. He knew he had a disease, he knew he was powerless, he sought help, he found sobriety, he lived.
Yes, Bryan lived. And he knew love.