In Memory: a lesson within loss.

I have looked at a blinking cursor for over an hour now. Typing, deleting, starting over, stumbling over how to turn the thoughts in my head into penned words.

…and yet I know this will end up being a lengthy entry. I hope you’ll hang with me, because there is a lesson (or atleast a reminder) in the end.

To start, allow me to share with you a memory from five years ago that popped up on my social media this morning.

Now allow me to slightly rewind.

July 23, 2021.

Message from Brandon: Life is treating me very well. We should catch up. I just saw your diagnosis and clearly I’ve been on this journey a while (currently living in San Diego where I go to UCSD cancer center every day for a vaccine trial I’m a part of)…there’s great hope! Lots of love.

Me: Good to hear from you! I’m glad you’re doing well, and I’d love to catch up. Cancer is far from ideal, but the amount of beauty it brings to the forefront is something I’ll forever be thankful for. Heck of a perspective shift!

Brandon: For sure…never wish it on my worst enemy but want my closest loved ones to know what life can be!

Me: Amen to that!

August 11, 2021 (in response to an Instagram post I shared about hydrating the day before chemo).

Brandon: {insert lots of insight on how he navigates dehydration through all of his cancer treatments + updating me on his health}…6 years after a 90 day prognosis, still running hard 😊

Me: {insert a response full of cheering him on in his journey and thanking him for motivating me through my own diagnosis}

Brandon: …if things ever start going the wrong direction for you just reach out, my network of scientists and doctors and treatment facilities is always yours, nothing I wouldn’t do.

September 1, 2021.

I sent Brandon the social media memory that popped up from four years earlier (the same one I shared above in this post) with a note that said, “Four years ago?! Amazing how you inspired me then, and at the time I had no idea I’d be walking through a cancer diagnosis. Thanks for showing me how to go about it boldly and bravely.”

August 3, 2022.

Me: Hey, Brandon. You’ve crossed my mind a couple times the past few days, so I am taking it as a nudge to say hello. Hope life is being kind to you.

On August 23rd I walked out of a meeting at work and saw a message from Brandon on my phone.

…or so I thought.

This is Brandon’s mom. He passed away in November.

I quite literally had to leave the office. I felt sick. The tears started to flow. I went straight home and started Googling the details I had so clearly missed due to being caught up in my own cancer battle.

When I poured over his obituary, I froze when I read he’d left this earth on November 16, 2021.

…as I realized I was celebrating my last day of radiation treatments on November 15, 2021.

Celebration and loss. How closely the two are sometimes woven.

Since the day I received the text about his passing (followed by a sweet and deeply appreciated chat with his mom) I’ve honestly thought about Brandon daily. The laughs we shared. Memories from the random road trip we once took. The times he blessed me (and others) with his guitar playing and singing voice. Times when he was back in town (he lived in Utah), and we’d make time to catch up. The way he stayed so positive even on the toughest of days. His generous heart. The kindness and humbleness of a man who made it big in the business world but you’d never know his financial wealth. His love for life. The fact he absolutely did not know a stranger. How brilliant he was. He was so fun and quirky!

Gosh, what I’d give to have one more chance to sit and talk with him.

Did I think I would write a blog post to honor the memory of Brandon? I honestly didn’t.

But today when the social media memory popped up I felt like the timing was a God wink. A God wink to do what Brandon would do and share the simple but important lesson(s)/reminders.

Even on the darkest of days look for the beauty. Be kind. Be bold. Do good. Dream big. Money, status, material things…those are not what it’s all about. Love deeply. Stay true to yourself.  

I cannot help but look at our friendship over the years and smile when I think God knew all along that at some point I would cling to the lessons Brandon taught me. In the fight for his life he so boldly and bravely showed me how to fight for mine.

The lesson in this loss for me? Pick up the phone and make the call. Send the message. Make time to connect. Life is far too precious and unpredictable to think you can put it off and be promised another opportunity.

I know 99% of you reading this did not know Brandon, but I genuinely hope you will click over to this link and watch the video put together by the tech company he co-founded. His words – even spoken as a stranger to you – are a deep and beautiful lesson we could all use. Listen intently to each and every word. It’s worth the four minutes, trust me.

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