One woman remembers the life and death of a great man
Bryan was full of life. He was one of those persons who would spontaneously become friends with everyone he met. When he walked into a room, he lit it up.
Bryan also gave his time to charity causes. He built homes with Habitat for Humanity, once grew his hair long to donate it to cancer patients, and contributed to toys-for-tots programs in the holiday season. I remember he telling me how he met this man who was begging for money on the subway. Bryan ended up giving him his number, in case he and his family ever needed a place to stay. There are many other of these gestures I don’t know anything about. Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. That’s the kind of guy Bryan was.
Bryan was my boyfriend, back then. He was the one I planned to spend my life with.
Then came May 29, 2012.
Bryan was then working in construction, and he would leave his house very early in the morning. We texted back and forth as usual, until I didn’t hear from him. I thought he was busy with work. Then I received a message from his sister-in-law saying he’d been in an accident.
Getting there took forever. I worked on the Upper West Side and the hospital was in Brooklyn. As I finally walked into the hospital, I saw Bryan’s mom in the hallway. His dad and siblings were there too. They updated me on his condition. I saw the nurses wheel Bryan out from emergency surgery. I was terrified, but also knew Bryan had a strong spirit.
The next days were a blur.
We all took turns staying overnight at the hospital. He was on a respirator and doctors told us his spinal cord was severely damaged and his femur bone was broken. After multiple surgeries, they said Bryan would probably be paralyzed for life. We watched and prayed over him. He never fully woke up as he was heavily sedated, but he would respond to our voices. I prayed and prayed that Jesus would heal Bryan.
On Sunday, June 3, 2012, we held a Mass for him. I drove to church with one of Bryan’s best friends, Cory, and as soon as we arrived we had a call from Bryan’s brother telling us things didn’t look good.
As we drove back to Brooklyn we hit a terrible storm. Thunder, bad lightning, hail, buckets of rain pouring down. Then it suddenly stopped. I looked out the window up at the sky. The clouds were parting, beautiful rays beamed down, and a huge rainbow appeared. I checked the time. It was around 5:15 p.m. I turned to Cory and said: “I think that’s Bryan on his way to heaven.”
All rainbows are pretty, but this one was magnificent.
Cory and I rushed up to Bryan’s floor. When the elevator doors opened Bryan’s older brother, John, was standing there. With great sadness, he told us what we already somehow knew.
I asked his family what time he had passed. They told me 5:15 pm, the same time we saw the stunning rainbow in the sky. I am not saying this was some sort of a miracle. I am just saying I found comfort and meaning in these details, and although I went into a dark place after Bryan died, God surrounded me with support from friends, family, and a psychologist who helped me work through my grief.
Today, I am married to an amazing man I am deeply in love with. But I recognize it was the gift of Bryan and his way of living his life that showed me what love looks like, so that I could eventually share that with my husband. Life is good. God is good.
Since you are here…
…we’d like to have one more word with you. We are excited to report that Aleteia’s readership is growing at a rapid rate, world-wide! Our team proves its mission every day by providing high-quality content that informs and inspires a Christian life. But quality journalism has a cost and it’s more than ads can cover. We want our articles to be accessible to everyone, free of charge, but we need your help. To continue our efforts to nourish and inspire our Catholic family, your support is invaluable. Become an Aleteia Patron today for as little as $3 a month. May we count on you?