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.