I wanted to share John's heartrending and spot-on eulogy that he gave on Saturday for his best friend, Brian. Many of my family and John's family have known Brian for years through us and did not get to attend the services. I thought you might like to read what John had to say. Although we did have a signal so that I could come up and finish the speech for him if necessary ("When I turn into a bubbling mush of goo."), that was not necessary and his delivery of the speech I'm sure made Brian proud.
Brian O’Neill had a wonderful, yet terribly warped sense of humor. A sense of humor that often had him laughing hysterically at movies that very few on this planet could possibly enjoy. I think the only argument we never settled was when he kept insisting that the movie “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” was funny. I look forward to the day when we can pick that argument back up again.
Brian’s particular brand of humor also resulted in him being a fan of Monty Python. Whether or not Monty Python’s brand of humor was funny was a point we never argued. One of their movies is entitled “Life of Brian”. It was advertised as “A Motion Picture destined to offend nearly two thirds of the civilized world. And severely annoy the other third.”
The life of our Brian, Brian Edward O’Neill, is a much more complex story. What does one say when called upon to talk about the life of Brian? Almost twelve years ago, when I first heard of Brian’s diagnosis……. of Brian’s prognosis, my thoughts involuntarily took me there. What would I say, how would I summarize this man’s life? At different points during his fight I would ask myself the same thing. Each time I was at a loss for what I would say. Up until yesterday, it was not something I could put down on paper. I think that was for a couple of very good reasons.
First of all, Brian is not the kind of man you can neatly summarize. Earlier this week, one of Angie’s friends asked me for a good story about Brian. A very good question, but one that I found difficult to answer. Partly because discretion immediately eliminates a lot of the good ones, but mostly because being a part of Brian’s life was not so much a series of good stories but more a culmination of countless subtle moments. More of a “Brian Experience”.
Secondly, his story wasn’t ready to be written. So much of Brian’s story is still not ready to be written. Right now the character we know as Brian will no longer appear in the story, but his true character will be felt throughout the rest of its pages. It will affect the upcoming chapters in the story of his family, as we anxiously turn the pages on the next great adventures of Angie, Gavin and Grant. Brian’s character will be ever evident in those he has left behind. Brian’s character will be a part of countless other stories yet to be written, life stories of people who are here today or people around the world who have never met Brian but know of his qualities, of his strength.
The final chapter will be withheld from all of us, until we stand beside him in Heaven. Only then will the true meaning of his story, of his family’s story, be revealed to us.
But Brian would want his life to have affected you most in those not so serious moments. I have heard my friend talking to me this week in some of those moments. Mostly through music. In the minutes and hours after his death, I was continually amazed at the songs he shuffled in on “BOZOs play list”. Some of them appropriate, some of them woefully inappropriate. Just the way Brian would have wanted it.
Just listen for him.
The next time you are looking for an MP3 player. You may be looking at the 8 or 16 GB models. When you feel an invisible hand shove you hard to the right and you find yourself seriously considering the 160 GB model, that’s Brian.
The next time you are about to order a Bud Light and find yourself moments later with a tall glass of Old Rasputin in front of you, that’s Brian.
It may even be during a game of Euchre, when you don’t have squat in your hand and you feel an urge to tell the dealer to “Pick it up”. That’s Brian.
In fact, the game of Euchre and the way Brian played it have a lot of parallels with the way Brian approached life. Many times I have heard his partner in life (and euchre) scream out to Brian, “How could you possibly win with that hand?” after he had done just that.
Perhaps that is why Brian was given this lot in life. God knew that if Brian was sitting at a table and these were the cards he was dealt, that nobody but Brian could turn it into a winning hand. So listen for Brian the next time life deals you a bad hand.
“Pick it up, win with it and amaze your partner while doing it.”
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