|My mom and Brad with their two babies, Julius and Luigi.|
Loss is not new to me. Not only have I lost several people very close to me in the early 2000's, but I lost my grandmother only a few years ago, and now, this week, we also lost Brad. Given my history of loss, I know what I need to do in order to properly grieve. Writing this blog is one of the ways that I do this. So, indulge me and celebrate the life of one of the most amazing people I have ever known-- that of, Brad Stafford, my mother's partner.
I can't lie. I'm still in shock. And I don't think it was until today that I fully realized what has happened. See, this wasn't expected. I was home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. And while I knew that Brad wasn't feeling great, I had no idea. None of us knew. We thought maybe he just wasn't feeling well. We had no idea that on merely two days after Christmas, we'd find out he had a very advanced cancer, one that would take his life in merely one month. And while cancer is never easy, it seems fucking unfair that we lost Brad within a month of his diagnosis. I'm pissed off that everything happened so fast. That this amazing and wonderful man disappeared from our lives so very quickly.
So, what can I say about Brad? Well, he was absolutely amazing. In the past week, my head has been haunted my memories of him. And those memories are mostly of him laughing, joking with my mother, dancing, telling me just how much he loves my mother. And, you know, this is the part that is the most painful-- while I loved Brad on my own, the most painful part is watching my mother deal with the loss of her life partner. Yeah, okay, he was her husband, but I continue to refer to him as her partner, because, that is what he was. He wasn't just a husband. He was her partner. He was her person.
The television station he worked for put together a tribute to him. I posted it online a couple of days ago. But I haven't been able to watch it until today. I just couldn't. And when I finally did, I let go of the strength that I've held onto for the past few days. They featured co-workers talking about him. His patience. His kindness. And they nailed it. That's Brad. He was kind. He was patient. And these are exactly the reasons he was perfect for my mother. This is what she needed.
When he fell in love with my mom, it happened quickly, for both of them. I knew nothing was ever going to be the same after that moment. Mostly, what I realized was that my mom was in love, she was with the person she was always destined to be with. He was kind to her, he was patient with her. He loved her in a way that I had never seen before.
There are so many memories, so many moments that flash through my head when I stop and think (which until tonight, I've tried to avoid). Actually, there are so many, it is hard to confine them to a few moments to convey to the rest of you. I remember my mom telling me about the first time the two of them every spent time together and she played Bright Eyes for him. I remember him on the Sims. I remember us driving out to Concord to hear some music in some really strange bars. I remember all those trips to see Bright Eyes in various cities and Brad talking to Conor, Mike, and all the great folks that play with those guys including Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. I remember all of those holidays together, I remember us all doing karaoke that one Christmas, I remember him always losing at Monopoly. I remember him dancing to Sir Mix-A-Lot. I remember us all sitting around listening to old country music. I remember showing him and mom different television shows and how he always questioned the validity of the show. I can still hear him saying, "Well, now, I don't think that is possible..." I remember him dancing with my best friend, Jennie Ann and her husband, Derek, during their first dance at their wedding reception. I remember me, him, and mom going to see Justin Townes Earle a few years ago. I remember how much he helped take care of my grandmother when she was dying. I remember him being contrary, very very contrary during all our fantastic discussions about social issues. I remember how him and mom *always* fell asleep five minutes into watching whatever show I was showing them...and I remember the exact look on Brad's face while he was sleeping. I remember him looking up the traffic and the weather reports. I remember his selflessness. I remember how from the very beginning, I realized, this man loves my mother so very much. I remember thinking how I would be lucky to find a person like Brad in my own life. And mostly, I remember how Brad welcomed me into his life. And it was all so very easy. One moment I didn't know him, and the next moment, he was someone I loved so very much.
Brad was one of a kind. One of the best kind. And I'll always treasure those moments, during the day while mom was at work, when Brad and I would sit across from each other at the table in the house and talk for hours. I would tell him about my work. He would tell me about what he discovered on the internet. We would spend hours sitting there together. Those are the moments I will miss the most, when it was just the two of us.