Friday, January 22, 2010


I was fourteen when I met him.

The summer of 2002 was the summer that everyone went to the mall on Saturdays. Saturday afternoons in the mall were spent mingling with friends from various groups and meeting new ones.

He emitted such a positive energy and his smile lit up his whole face. He shook my hand and enthusiastically introduced himself as Bryan. There was something about him that made me long to be his friend. Right away, I was proud to walk through the mall beside him. Him, another friend and I walked through the mall listening to him speak. His voice was so lyrical - probably because he voiced a smile through every spoken word.

"Have you ever had Butter Pecan ice cream?" He looked at me. I shifted from foot to foot trying to avoid his stare. His eyes held such intensity that was enough to make my insides quiver. I shook my head and smiled. We made our way to the grocery store where we purchased a massive tub of Butter Pecan ice cream and a package of disposable spoons. We walked through the mall while Bryan passed out spoons to random friends, inviting them to try a spoonful of his favourite ice cream.

This day was the introduction of a great friendship. I spent almost everyday of that summer spending time with Bryan and his friends. We'd went to camp together that summer. I treasured every moment that I had with him because the moments truly impacted me. He was such a passionate person. Bryan told me that he had cystic fibrosis and was told by his family doctor that he was lucky to live as long as he did. Bryan had a twin brother, Brendan, who passed away at the age of five with CF. Bryan saw every day that he woke up as a gift and lived it to the fullest. He touched everyone who knew him in a tremendous way. He loved life, he loved his life, and he loved everyone in his life. He was always greeting people with hugs and smiles. Bryan expressed his feelings on his life, his disease, and his brother through his music. He was in a band called West Avenue, where he played guitar and sang. He was exploding with talent and was passionate about writing and singing his own music.

I remember a time in high school where a complete jackass (you know... those kinds of jackasses that hang out together in high school) was pushing Bryan around. Bry was wearing eyeliner and the jackass was muttering words like, "fag" at him. The jackass hit Bry's hat off of his head, shouting jackass comments at him in regards to the eyeliner. My stomach cringed while I watched, not knowing what to expect. Bryan smiled at him, "Everyone has their own opinions. I respect that." Bryan picked up his hat and walked away. This situation really showed Bryan's amazing character.

Friday. October 10th, 2003.

I was at a school dance when I found out that Bryan passed away. He'd been at the IWK hospital for a few weeks, but our prayers and hopes were high. My insides grew numb when I found out. My knees fell weak and I dropped to the floor. My stomach ached and I clenched my hands into fists by my side. I rocked back and forth, crying. My boyfriend held me and cried. I looked around while the terrible news diffused through the crowd. Tears, shouts... pain.

The following Monday at school was treacherous. Not a soul spoke. The silence held gut wrenching pain. Everyone's faces were expressionless. Nobody knew what to say. It was evident, then, how much Bryan had affected so many people.

Bryan loved his life and lived every minute that he had the very best that he could. I try to always think of Bryan when my life gets tough. He had a rough life and was battling against a disease in which the odds were against him... but it didn't stop him from celebrating life every day. I think it's important not to get caught up and stressed out about things in life when the situation can always be much much worse. I think it's important to celebrate life, rather than get upset about it.

Not only do I aim to celebrate my own life everyday, I aim to celebrate Bryan's.

Check out the Facebook page "Brystock" to learn a little bit more about how Bry's friends and family continue to celebrate his life, while benefitting others.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

flux capacitor

Did you ever think about all the different forks in the road you've encountered throughout your life? Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you'd chosen to go down the alternate path? I often do.

I often imagine going to sleep and waking up in the past, still consumed with the knowledge of the future I had initially chosen. And I often imagine, given the opportunity, if I would choose the same way that I did. You always hear that famous quote regurgitated by friends to "never regret anything in life, because at one time it is exactly what you wanted." But is this really true? How many of us actually believe this? Maybe some of the choices we've made are not what we wanted - but obstacles got in the way, gearing us towards that specific path inevitably. Maybe the vast majority of us choose to faithfully believe in this quote because it's much easier to accept than the fact that maybe the choices we didn't make would've been the better ones. Maybe the vast majority of us choose to faithfully believe in this quote because life would be extremely pitiful if we lived it in the past, constantly wondering, "what if".

Another quote I, myself, used to regurgitate over and over again is that "it's better to regret what you've done rather than what you haven't done." But what if what you haven't done was choosing that other road to venture on? Maybe one of the biggest reasons that we do wallow in our own past (and the choices we could've/should've made) is because we're fearful of the future. We're fearful of the future that is at the end of the path - the path that we chose.

But if we constantly live with regrets of yesterday and worries for tomorrow, then we're losing something extremely important - today. A quote I recently stumbled upon is one by philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard who said, "I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations - one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it - you will regret both."

I thought about this quote for awhile before I realized how true it actually is. No matter what decisions you make... no matter what path you choose to walk down... you're always going to wonder what you're life would be like if you had chosen the alternate path.

I recognize that "if only" are two of the saddest words in the world, but it doesn't stop me from wishing I had a DeLorean with a flux capacitor so I could go back in time. Though... we've seen the tangled web Marty McFly ended up in when he did that. However, he did make subtle changes in his life for the better and he did end up with a sweet 4x4 in the end.