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I’ve talked about Brian.


and here.

For a little boy who I saw only a couple of times a month, he was never far from my thoughts.

I loved when his momma brought him over. She always had him dressed up. And in the last few months, he’d gotten glasses. He was so cute in them, all nerdy baby looking, his too long eyelashes brushing the lenses.

His momma took him to get regular haircuts and I always imagined them as they got ready for their day as she lathered his hair with moose or whatever you can buy to make an almost two year old’s mohawk, stand.

He had that kind of hair, the kind that women always run their hand across.

His soft brown skin, was like velvet, flawless against my aged, freckled hand.

The last time I held Brian was about a month ago. We sat on the back porch, me holding his back, his little legs helpless on mine. I didn’t want to think so, but to me he seemed to be losing ground. His mother and i talked about it. Do you think he’s sick, she asked. I don’t know, I said.

That was the trouble. No one knew.

He had glasses so I think he could see better.

He loved Pandora’s lullaby station which I thought was rather clever of Pandora to have such a thing and his mother to find it. It soothed him, his mother’s iPhone placed next to his ear. I knew he could hear better.

But something, just something seemed…less.

My own son, strapping and tall and healthy, sat down after work and watched Brian and I.

“Mother, does he make any sounds?”

“Yeah, he clicks. His mother can get him to do it,” I said, clicking my tongue to illustrate.

“Only do it three times, slowly, and then stop.”

We waited, John counted.

At ten, Brian slowly placed his tongue at the roof of his mouth, rolled his head slightly towards me, and clicked.

I hugged him. John motioned silently, do it again.

For the next 30 minutes, Brian and I communicated.

It would be the last time. For everything.

Looking back I wonder if what I was seeing was that Brian was just getting tired.

Brian died, the morning of January 3rd, peacefully and quickly.

His mother had cared for him in the short 24 months he lived with extraordinary grace and patience. She did so the 5 days Brian lived with machines in the finest children’s hospital Houston has to offer.

It is not easy for a mother to accept a loss of the dreams she has for her child. It is not easy for a mother to lose a child.

His mother let him go with the same grace, patience, and love that I know is integral to who she is.

I have been thinking about Brian.

There were things I wished I had known about him. Things I can imagine his mother wished she had known about him. Things she would have liked to have heard from him. But there are things we do know about him.

He was a sweet boy. He loved the feel of the wind on his cheek. He loved his sister and he loved the sound of his mother’s voice.  His mother knew which of his little toes had the feeling in it and he loved it when she tickled him there. He liked his head scratched and he liked his hair cut.

Two years isn’t long enough. But two years was long enough for Brian to steal the heart of those of us who knew him. And to teach us something. A mother’s love is incomprehensible.

“Would you like to take part of his ashes to the farm,” his mother asked me.


I told you she was gracious. And extraordinary.

Family doesn’t always mean you are blood kin.

Sing, laugh, and run, up there in heaven Brian. I bet you had a welcoming committee with more than a few people I love with all my heart.


Photography Credit: Doris Huddle. For some reason, she was compelled to snap these photos the day Brian and I talked.


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