Saturday, June 12, 2021

Ten Years Without Brian

It is one of the sad facts of my life that each of my best friends died young. My best friend in college, Ron, died in a car crash when he was only 22. And, of course, I have discussed many times here the death of my dearest Vanessa. Today it is the tenth anniversary of the death of my friend Brian Stephenson. He died on this date when the nursing home at which he was recovering administered too much insulin.

I knew Brian for well over 25 years. We met when we were in our twenties through mutual friends, all of who played role playing games. Brian and I naturally gravitated to each other. We shared many interests beyond role playing games, including classic movies, classic television, comic books, pulp magazines, and science fiction. We rarely argued and when we did so, we never remained angry at each other for long. We watched many movies together. It was with Brian that I first saw Seven Samurai (1954), La Dolce Vita (1960), The Big Sleep (1946), and many others. We almost always went to the theatre together. We had an arrangement where we rotated who paid our way in (when we were younger, at least, it was not unusual for one of us to be broke). If I haven't gone to the movie theatre much in the past ten years, it is because it doesn't feel right without Brian there. We read many of the same books and comic books. Any time one of us bought a book, he would let the other one of us read it when he was through reading it. In many ways, Brian was much more like a brother or cousin than he was simply a friend.

Brian was very talented. He wrote a screen play and also wrote several short stories. Sadly, he never tried to get anything published. He was also a math whiz, able to add and subtract, multiply and divide in his head. That came in handy, as I need a calculator simply to add and subtract! If I had some math to do and didn't have a calculator, I simply looked to Brian.

Among Brian's few flaws, it was that he was technologically challenged. That might sound surprising to some, as I tend to be fairly comfortable with technology. Anyway, either my brother or I had to install every one of Brian's VCRS. I set up every computer he ever owned, and installed the printers on those computers as well. A more important flaw on Brian's part is that he did not take particularly good care of himself. He was diabetic and it was not unusual for him to try to do without his insulin when he was low on money. Sadly, it was that flaw that eventually cost him his life. His health failed, he was put in a nursing home to recover, and then they administered too much insulin.

To this day I miss Brian terribly. Even ten years later it feels as if I should call him any time I see a movie or TV show I particularly like. I hate not being able to visit him and being able to go to the theatre with him. Aside from close family and Vanessa, I was never closer to anyone than I was Brian. I have often compared us to Charters and Caldicott, the primary difference being that we were obsessed with pop culture instead of cricket. I imagine either Charters or Caldicott would feel as lost without the other as I have without Brian.

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