Friday, July 23, 2010

Coronach for a Cowboy

"Death ends a life, not a relationship."
Robert Benchley

There exists in everything a duality. It must be so; there can be no hot without cold, no day without night, and no life without death. I'm sitting here with a glass of wine, pondering the polarity of love and loss, redemption and resurrection, humor and heartbreak.

What began as a humor blog has become an outlet for grief and thoughts and outpourings of melancholy. As always, my despondency drives me to the written word, and forces me to face the twofold nature of things. Even while I mourn, I celebrate.

It's interesting, duality. I just began a new job, and I am enjoying it in spite of the stress that a new job brings, and today was really a great day. Of course, that is, until I arrived home and received the dreadful news that my great, dear friend Brian Bulluck had passed away. And while I was numb on receiving the news, there was within me an ache so painful, so physical and real, that I could hardly breathe. The sad news was true....IS true, but I can not believe it.

Our family relocated to North Carolina four years ago, and before we had even left Florida, Brian reached out to me, introduced himself, and without even asking, claimed me as his friend. What we did not know about each other became known. It's safe to say that we ended up as not only good friends, but as some sort of perverse characters from the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Danny Devito movie Twins. Yes, you are correct in guessing which one I am. In keeping with the duality of all life, I must say that Brian was 6'6", majesterially slim, imperially dressed, and incredibly imposing (all the things that I am not.) But he was also down to earth, casual, and very kind. He towered over me and everyone else, but he never looked down on anyone unless he was helpng them up. He was a man of the people, but he had the ability to tell you to go to Hell and make you glad to be on your way.

Brian and his family came to our home for the first time on a weekend in 2007. There was a small fire in their kitchen and during the repairs, we offered them a Sunday brunch at our house. Brian and Dana were looking to buy a house and since Brian was the only other Dallas Cowboy fan in North Carolina besides Jerry and me, we naturally wanted him to live closer to us. In fact, if he were sitting here now, watching me sob, he'd laugh and tell me to cry for the Dallas Cowboys since they didn't even make it to the Superbowl last year. I can laugh at that thought, but it's probably the only thing I will laugh about for the next several days. That Sunday brunch was also funny, because Jerry and I knew of a house for sale nearby and we wanted Brian to see it. We drove over and walked around outside, peeking in windows, which was okay since no one was living there. Naturally, I tried the backdoor and found it unlocked. I motioned for everyone to come inside, with no thought to the possible consequences. Jerry hesitated, but Brian said, "It's fine, besides, Cat's fingerprints are on the doorknob. You and I will be alright as long as we don't touch anything." For someone with as much integrity as Brian had, he was perfectly okay with Sunday afternoon breaking and entering. I admire that. I'm also glad we didn't get caught.

My friendship with Brian was a life lesson in duality. He was a gentle giant, a servant leader, enigmatic but transparent. When I heard that he had cancer, I was angry and scared, and yet his words and actions gave me hope. It makes sense now that in the midst of his unrelenting pain, he still gave strength to others. He was emotionally strong, even when he was physically weak, and stood tallest when his physical pain brought him to his knees. For those of us who knew and loved him, at least for me, his loss is breathtaking. In the interest of allowing me to put some of my grief into words, Jerry has taken Jenda to the movies tonight, so she won't have to witness my devastation. I think they're going to see 'Ramona and Beezus.' Maybe it's 'The Romans and Jesus.' I am so wracked with heartbreak I just can't be sure. But in that pain, duality comes back to me. Brian brought such wonderful light into my life, and my world is now darker because he is gone. I marvel that I had such a wonderful friend while I hate myself that I was not a better friend to him.

I don't know that I will ever make sense of it. He fought like hell for this life, but ultimately surrendered to the will of a Creator out of whom he was endlessly born, and in whom he had complete faith. He gave wise counsel but always sought to better himself. He was such a wonderful dichotomy and his friendship taught me so much about the dual nature of things. Even as he was dying, he had the courage to live.

I will always be heartbroken because he is gone. I will always be grateful because he was here.