It's now been over a month since Brian's passing, and it feels like yesterday that I received the awful news. I've been so tied up with other commitments (my new summer work) that I've been unable to post further on that faithful week after his death, how his family and we, his friends, came together to commemorate, to remember, and to say goodbye to Brian.
I had left off in a previous post right before Wednesday and Brian's visitation. Tuesday was the last day of classes for the semester so things were beginning to finish up things for the summer. Wednesday and Thursday were "dead days" that were meant to be preparation for the finals that began that Friday. For me, there were other preparations and things I had to confront before even considering exams. By midweek I was beside myself, in the complete sense. His visitation was Wednesday evening at a funeral home in Bryan. Just the trip going there was surreal. I had never encountered such a scenario, of a friend dead, and then going to a funeral home for a visitation. When I arrived at the funeral home I was rather nervous in entering...not because it was a funeral home but because I knew so few others connected to Brian (such as from his church or his family). I had never met any of them, so trying to find someone I knew made me nervous. I found the TAGD group soon enough and was greeted by some others after entering, which eased my nerves and calmed my heart some. We even got to speak with Brian's father and stepmother some, and one of his uncle's spoke with us trying to find out more on how much Brian was involved with TAGD and game developing. His uncle's visit with us was a really special moment to me because it helped cement a connection with Brian's family I didn't have before. I also had a chance to see some of Brian's childhood pictures and things back from his home in Enterprise, Alabama. Very special, indeed.
Thursday was the day of Brian's funeral at Aldersgate Methodist Church. I did little before then that day. I came to the church a little behind schedule so I came in right before the service began. I remember Brian's eulogy given by his uncle (the same one that spoke with us the night before). He highlighted a post Brian wrote in his online journal, " If it's going to happen, it will happen now," where Brian spoke about becoming more committed to living his life for Christ. The entire service was moving--the hymns, the prayers, the eulogy, the community gathered together to remember Brian--but what moved me most of all were Brian's words read to us. That was the greatest reminder to me of how good Brian truly was. At that moment, I was proud to have known Brian and to have had him as a friend.
When we from TAGD were gathered that night before first at the funeral home, with Jacob Foshee and his friend Davanci all the way from Houston, to remember Brian with all of us, I felt a completeness to the loss of Brian. I knew in my heart right there that Brian would've have wanted this, he would've loved this...a TAGD gathering, something he wouldn't miss for anything! I know I felt a hole in the group there that night, I felt Brian's absence there when we were of the last to leave the funeral home. But I knew he was among us in our hearts, like how Christ is among us each day. For God is love, and love knows no boundaries.
The dinner we shared that night after leaving the visitation was a special one. We sat together not sorrowful because of Brian's death. Instead, we were growing in friendship with one another and having fun, something Brian would assuredly be a part of if he were still here. But, you see, that's what has been the silver lining in this tragic loss of Brian. Friendships have been renewed, and they have grown. In the greatest hardships come the greatest friendships, and so amongst death, life does go on.
I am reminded of the homily Father Kurt gave in the daily mass I attended the Monday after Brian's death, on the day I first knew. When I heard the homily I heard God speaking directly to my heart...I felt a direct connection to Christ. Father Curt spoke on the term "Paraclete", which is another way of saying the Holy Spirit. Father Curt spoke on how we should be the Holy Spirit through our actions and words. The Holy Spirit works through each of us to reach each other. In hearing the association of becoming a sort of "Paraclete" for another and for Christ's work in the world, illumination of Brian's death became clearer. Christ, with the Holy Spirit, was truly working through him. I remember seeing him tirelessly giving of himself for the group and being so passionate in all aspects of his life. After all, that's what friends are for: raising each other up in Christ. Thanks be to God.