If you love something, love it completely, cherish it, say it, but most importantly, show it. Life is finite and fragile, and just because something is there one day, it might not be the next. Never take that for granted. (R. Queen)
It’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s been a month of happenings. I’m thrilled to share that we brought the $12,000 raised through Bryan’s GoFundMe site to Phoenix House in Lake Ronkonkoma!!!! It was bittersweet and it was awesome. We sat with the directors and talked about Bryan. They remembered him. Bryan was a smart man, who recognized his addiction and knew he had the fight of, and for, his life in front of him. He took on responsibilities and he grew in his sobriety. It was his smile, laughter, and support of others that stood out for the directors. More importantly, he wasn’t just called “Bryan.” He was called “Teach” because he spent his time tutoring residents in preparation to attain their GED’s. He gave a lot of himself and that so speaks to the kind of person he was.
I have to say, it does my heart good to know that Bryan, the person, is remembered, not the addiction.
There will be a room, with beds, in honor of Bryan. A beautiful plaque will be placed next to the entryway. (The ceremony should be some time during the summer.) We saw the architectural drawings and discussed how the new focus will be on the whole person, not just the disease. There will be a gym, a meditation garden, and a track to walk and run. Learning to live with the disease of addiction, and take care of oneself, totally and with kindness, will be the objective. There will be a detox building, more beds, more attention, more help. It is a gift beyond imagination. I love how it will help to remove the shame and stigma that is attached to the disease of addiction and help to create new ways of being, knowing, and living in the lives and hearts of those who are “sick and tired of being sick and tired” (The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous),
There are more stories in the universe than there are stars in the sky.
Last week I shared Bryan’s story at a community outreach in Westbury. I spoke about Bryan’s life, loves, the horror of addiction and what it can do to a family. It was my first talk and though it was difficult at times, being able to talk about Bryan helps to heal my family and me. I used some of this blog’s materials and was able to show a pptx that displayed Bryan’s life. My hope is that the disease of addiction begins to lose some of its’ stigma and is seen as a devastating brain disease that left untreated, can only lead to death.
Another bit of news is that Bryan’s Foundation has been incorporated as a non-profit organization! What that means is The Bryan Bausch Foundation is a tax-exempt organization that serves the public interest. In general, the purpose of this type of organization must be charitable, educational, scientific, religious or literary. The public expects to be able to make donations to these organizations and deduct these donations from their federal taxes (http://nonprofit.pro/nonprofit_organization.htm). Being able to serve the public interest and educate and be educated about the disease of addiction is becoming an emerging passion of mine.
Say what you need to say, then say a little more. Say too much. Show too much. Love too much.
We just passed the 6 month anniversary of losing Bryan. As this heart-breaking milestone came upon us we decided we would celebrate Bryan by gathering together. Bryan loved his family and no matter how much the disease would manifest in him, he would still want to, need to, be around us, his brothers, sister-in-law, and his adored nephews. We barbecued and made all of Bryan’s favorite foods, including Jeff’s apple pie with ice cream (which is why he is called “Uncle Pie” by our nieces!). We chose our love of Bryan as the theme of our get-together and it is that love that sees us through many challenging and dark moments.
So, what does a 6 month anniversary bring to a parent who has a lost their child? What does it feel like? Look like? I think, from my own experience, we may look like we’re doing okay. For example, I go to work, I teach, I lead workshops, I smile, and I even joke. Most of the people I’m coaching don’t know my story and I don’t share it. I have to admit, it gives my brain and heart a rest and a chance to just be. It’s not that I’m not constantly thinking about Bryan, I’m just not saying any words. I might cry on my way home or later that night with the realization that I can’t call Bryan or text him about my day.
But, what I do know is that love does last far beyond this lifetime. Bryan’s not with me today but his love is all around me. “Through memory,” writes Henri Nouwen, “love transcends the limits of time and offers hope at any moment of our lives.” Bryan is not now on earth but he is “… in the minds of those who remember him: his smile, his voice … in all of us who knew and loved him.
Grief comes to all of us at one time or another. It changes the circumstances of our lives in unpredictable ways. We are forced to learn new ways of being in the world, without that person who meant so much to us. I’m grateful for the memories of my son, my family, and the intertwining of our lives, all of which remind me of the greatest gift of all and one that never gets old – unconditional love.
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller