Friday, March 07, 2008


Brian's mother died..

One of the more hellish aspects of the internets is that one can stumble across information that one perhaps needs to be a little prepared for.

One of them was the notice in the online version of the local hometown paper that my friend Brian's mother died. The obituary rather starkly noted that she had been predeceased by her son, my friend Brian.

I met Brian in junior high school. He was at the time a slight boy with bright red hair, cornflower blue eyes and the wickedest tongue outside of the Algonquin round table. He was also out and proud (well, it could be argued that it would have almost been impossible for him to be in) and woe to the person who thought that he could be bullied or put down for being so. I marvelled at his courage; there was no way that I was going to emulate it but I was determined that I was going to be friends with him. Friends we became. We were friends through junior and senior high school, friends through college, friends through my time living in New York and his living in Boston. I stayed in his apartment in Dorchester after leaving New York and having no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  He had an idea. He had applied to be a flight attendant, thinking that his major in German language would come in handy. He'd get paid a decent amount of money, be able to travel the world and meet new and interesting people. Pretty good for a kid from Western New England who's mom was a nurse and who grew up in a tiny farmhouse in the sticks.

Within a week of leaving for the training he was back. He wouldn't say why and I didn't want to pry it out of him but I knew it was something bad and he didn't want to talk. I tried to jolly him up and still smile over the fact that I was able to make him really laugh. Hard. I stayed a few weeks longer then moved for a couple of months to a sublet by Fenway Park, then back to our hometown. Then I got the news that Brian was very ill. He had AIDS, and it was affecting his brain. I drove with our dear friend Moo (nicknames to protect the innocent) in a borrowed car to the hospital in Boston to see him. He recognised us, barely, and spoke to us not making much sense. He was terribly frail and it was obvious to all of us that this might be our last meeting. We embraced goodbye, I dropped Moo off at her sisters place in Cambridge and I drove home. How I will never know. The night before the funeral I literally cried my eyes out, as I have never cried for anyone before or since. I cried so much that my eyes were swollen shut the morning of the service; I wore sunglasses there, and not for effect. In the depth of her mourning (which must have been unfathomable- I lost a dear friend, she lost a child) she was kind enough to invite us to her home for a reception.  All of us, and there were throngs.  Brian touched many lives.

Of course I moved away and fell out of touch. We weren't close to begin with, I was simply one of those strange birds that was in her son's life. I'm sure she looked at our antics with bemusement, as if one of her son's orchids had dropped in for a cup of Constant Comment and a bitchy chat. But she was kind, accepting and loving to her son when there were people who would without thinking of it turned their back on them, at a time when many parents did. That should be noted somewhere; if it cannot be in the dry pages of my hometown newspaper, then if can here, even if only 6 people will read it and only one of you know will what I am talking about.

Image: ActUp NewYork

2 comments:

Ellen said...

Tom, I'm so sorry about your friend. You did a beautiful job of remembering him to us.
--pitbull friend

tmp00 said...

thanks Ellen-

He was a wonderful young man and a good friend to many who still miss him.