Blues week is not entirely accurate because this one is country-western. (Even if you’re NOT a country fan give it a listen, it’s hauntingly beautiful.) The song “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley was a favorite long before my current grief – and now it feels like a message, somehow. Enjoy.
Archive for March, 2009
I thought I’d share WH Auden’s famous words of grief this morning.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
~by WH Auden
Relevant to funeral blues, Bryan’s colleagues and friends are graciously hosting a celebration of life service for him in Anchorage, where he spent most of his life. It’ll be next weekend, Sunday, April 5, from 2-4pm, at the Petroleum club. The boys and I, as well as his parents and sister’s family, will be there. I’m looking forward to hearing folks’ memories of Bryan.
I was able to hold it together long enough to speak these words at his celebration of life service last night, and thought I’d share the text here.
I had the incredible privilege of being Bryan’s wife and best friend for twelve years. Losing him, so suddenly and so young, tears my heart in two; he was truly my better half.
Bryan and I actually met online. That’s a cliché, nowadays, isn’t it? We were both members of AOL, I was a science fiction chat host; he attended my chats and we both were part of an informal online social circle of sci fi fans.
After a time we started emailing and messaging one-on-one, first as friends and then later with some romantic interest. After several months of that, we decided to risk meeting each other. Both of our families and friends asked, “But what if he/she is an axe murderer?” We’d shared many facts about our lives – family, professional and social details – and were relatively comfortable.
We decided I’d come up to Alaska to visit him. I’d always wanted to see the state, and if we did not get along, I could check into a hotel, rent a car and see the sights. Fortunately, we did get along. I remember walking down the airport jetway and seeing him waiting at the gate (you could do that back then) with a dozen roses and a terrified look on his face. He hugged me, and we walked away together and haven’t looked back.
We dated long distance for many months, got engaged, and the boys and I moved to Alaska and I found a job. We married June 21, 1997, summer solstice, in his parents beautiful (and rainy) garden.
Happily ever after never is the fairy tale we hope for. We were in our mid-30s when we married, strong-willed and stubborn, and had our share of ups and downs – wonderful times where we were so close we could finish one another’s sentences, and painful times when it seemed like we couldn’t agree on whether the sun set in the west.
But, because it was Bryan, we had plenty of laughter and joy – I adored his sense of humor and love of life. We traveled together, fishing throughout Alaska, touring the national parks of the west, visiting Hawaii several times, and cruising to Mexico. We bought a little boat in Alaska – only to need a tow back to shore the first time we took it out – and then a bigger boat in Poulsbo, and enjoyed hours and hours of time on the water. We planted beautiful gardens, watched countless movies, and golfed badly together
In marrying me, he also became a devoted father to two boys. He proudly sat beside me at school conferences, spelling bees and scouting ceremonies, and patiently helped with homework and long nights with sick kids. He gladly invested the time and energy required to help raise two bright, caring, handsome men, and considered them his own from the moment he said “I do.”
I had the privilege of getting to know Bryan’s family over the years; he cherished them. It’s said you can tell what caliber of husband a man will be by watching how he treats his mother, and Bryan adored and supported his mother and his entire family. It was comforting to be a part of.
Bryan was also a wonderful husband. He made it clear daily that he adored me, telling me often with words, affection and action. He brought me flowers frequently, jewelry often, and supported me as I pursued my own interests and professional life. He had the biggest heart I’ve ever known and spent his love so unstintingly on family, friends and his beloved dogs, it’s not surprising that his heart is what finally gave out.
I loved him more than I can say. Traveling the road of life without him seems like a long and arduous path, empty and far too quiet.
As many of you know, I lost my husband Thursday, March 19, to a sudden heart attack.
He was in line for the morning ferry to Seattle when he collapsed. Paramedics tried to revive him for nearly an hour but were unsuccessful. An hour later, the deputy coroner and fire department chaplain knocked on my door to bring me the awful news.
He was a great man, honest, hard-working and brilliant, a caring husband and devoted father. He tried to pretend he was a stern and cranky attorney but had the biggest heart I’ve ever known. We are still staggering under the impact of his sudden death and will miss him terribly.
Following is the obituary we submitted to the Kitsap Sun and Anchorage Daily News.
Bryan S. Merrell, of Poulsbo, WA, died of a sudden heart attack March 19, 2009 at the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal. Born September 3, 1963 in Rolla, MO, he was 45.
He grew up in Anchorage, AK, graduated from Prairie High School in 1981, WSU in 1985 and U of Idaho in 1988 with a JD degree.
For the last 15 years, he was an attorney for First American Title, most recently as regional counsel and senior divisional underwriter in Seattle, WA and previously as state counsel and title manager in Anchorage, AK. Prior to that, he was an attorney with both Groh Eggers Price and Routh Crabtree in Anchorage.
Bryan adored his two dogs, Panda and Murphy. He was a Seahawks season ticket holder and a Mariners and WSU Cougars fan. He enjoyed motoring in his convertible MINI, boating on the Puget Sound, gardening and writing.
He married Jeri Sisco Merrell on June 21, 1997, and was a devoted father to his stepsons, Benjamin and Zachary Moore, all of Poulsbo, WA. He is also survived by parents, Jackie (Hale) and Dale Merrell, of Aloha, OR, and his sister and her family, Michelle (Merrell) and Kenneth Ackerman and their children Scott and Alexander Ackerman.
An informal celebration of life will be held 7pm Tuesday, March 24, at the Poulsbo Sons of Norway hall. We will also be scheduling a celebration of life in Anchorage in the near future, and will update when we have more information. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Bryan’s name to the King County Humane society or your local animal rescue organization.
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What would you use your nuclear duct tape for?
H/T to Bill (who really needs to start a blog) for the product heads up.