I still don't know exactly how Brian died, and where, and why the whole thing happened. I think of what we have been told, and I don't know how to make sense of facts I don't have. I wish I were Matlock, or Mike Hammer, because it makes no sense to me that this act took place at all.
(The investigation is still open. No trial dates have been set. The official death certificate says: "homicide", "battered by another".)
Brian was a peaceful man. His friends, all peaceful, thoughtful, engaged in living good, productive lives.
He was strong, tall and wiry, fit and energetic, taking up one sport after another,year in and year out. Being a victim of a battery was not in his profile.
He had no need for possessions that cluttered his life. He biked to work, played basketball, tennis. He enjoyed the outdoors, and went camping every chance he had. He had just what he needed to live a great life: a wonderful job, a loving family, and recently, the love of his life, Janet, had accepted his marriage proposal. Two weeks earlier, when the two of them had visited us in Port Orford, Oregon, we had spoken about having a wedding at our lake house.
He had lived a frugal, thoughtful life, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity on weekends, or mentoring students, like the neighbor's son, or working on his house or car, or taking his dog Butters (short for Buttercup-as in The Princess Bride) to the ocean to swim. Yes, that dog had been the reason he saved and saved to buy a house in this economy, a house to nest in and build his future in - a cat Newkie now in our care, and Butters now in the neighbor's son's care.
He was most generous with his elderly parents. He called often, sometimes just to ask about a recipe he was whipping up. When he visited, a couple of times a year, he'd ask what needed to be done around the house. He couldn't just sit around. He and I would be pulling weeds, planting, and he'd find something to be done, clean the gutters, trim trees, repair a hinge, replace light fixtures.
I see him everywhere. I look at young men now to see any resemblance of what mine was.
This week, during Cycle Oregon, I could see him riding from town to town, visiting the coast, stopping in Port Orford.
I plan my days, my outings, trying to avoid meeting people. Each look of grief on their faces melts my composure. I break into sobs and I'm back to square one.
When people ask ,how are you doing, they get a standard answer, Better.
We are not better.
We are not worse.
We are barely breathing.
Yet, yet, words and gestures of condolence are helping. We feel better, somehow.
Just a tiny tiny bit warmer.
(Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your support.)