Thoughts and memories:
It was not one of Brian's professors & the professor was relaying his experiences with students in response to the article regarding parents being notified by Universities/Colleges of students behaviors when they are harmful to the student.
Brian's death was an accidental overdose of heroin.
A young relative in Ocean City, Md recently told us they lost 7 friends (teen- early 20's) to heroin overdose in the last 2 years. Md. and several other states are trying to crack down on the heroin trafficking. The drug is easy to get and many times used in place of the prescription drug, oxycontin, which is more expensive. Brian told me a week before he died that the oxycontin he was given (the doctor handed him the prescription, not me) when he had his wisdom teeth out at age 19, was his first taste of heroin. He wouldn't return to that experience in the form of heroin until he was 21. He told me this because his sister was about to get her wisdom teeth out and he cautioned against her taking it or another narcotic. Maybe reading this site will help another parent &/or addict. Than's all we can hope.
We love and miss you Brian,
Mom & Dad
Note to readers:
We will be putting more articles and info on the links section of the site. One article was written recently by Brian's dad and one of the responses he received is from a professor at The University of Virginia, the school Brian proudly attended.
There is reference on this site to a University Student Health counselor having information that we strongly feel we would have acted on had we been notified (see post Nov.21,2006). The clinic file we obtained, 2 years after his death, starts with the first assessment containing an admission to the counselor by Brian to heavy drinking. Next appear a handful of other assessments in the following 3 1/2 years related to, a sore throat, a fever & getting a nicotine patch. The final assessment by the clinic nurse, when Brian sought help because of chest pain and an infection in a track mark on his arm, left us hollow when we read it- "Heroin addict".
This still did not illicit a call of concern to us from the Student Health Center, but Brian, now 21, did call us. He knew then that he was unable to "handle" the addictive behaviors anymore and he needed help. The reason given to us by the dean for why we were not notified about the incident that sent him to the Student Health the first time, an infraction of State law as well as University Policy, was that Brian, at barely18, was an adult. In recent news stories, depending on the reporters slant, 18-19 year olds have consistently been referred to as, "youth", or "teen". Which is it? They have characteristics of both, but not the life skills to manage everything. They need help when participating in dangerous behaviors.
We just would have liked a chance to intervene earlier than we did. Brian was able to hide addictive behaviors from us while there were others who saw them on a daily basis. Parents are clueless and the last to know sometimes. Any early intervention to halt addiction would have depended on him ultimately, but it would have given him a better chance to change his life's direction. It is not the only aspect of his addiction, but it is a large piece of the pie.
With the permission of the professor, and to leave on Brian's site something for parent's consideration, part of that response follows:
"I've enjoyed teaching at UVA for the past 27 years, and I think I can count on one or two hands the number of students who I felt might need some sort of intervention or help in dealing with a problem. I had one very fine young man commit suicide during a break, and to this day I wonder if there was something I might have done to be of help to him. I recall another student who was doing very well in one of my classes, and then she didn't show up for the final and received an F. She came to me and asked if she could take the course again, and I was delighted to have her back. She did even better, but when exam time came she once again didn't show up. Another F. My understanding is that she was then expelled for poor grades (I assume the no-show problem went beyond my class), and I often wonder what became of her. I've always suspected that she had some sort of external problem--drugs, booze, boyfriend, or perhaps a family problem at home. At no point did I fear either of these students were at serious risk of hurting themselves or others, so they really aren't relevant to your situation. I guess I mention them because I continue to think of both students often, and wonder whether I might have done something different that would have helped them. (I particularly think about the young man, as when I met with his mother when she came to pick up his things she told me he had often spoken of how much he enjoyed my class. He got a B+ in a very competitive group (mostly pre-law), but I've wondered if he expected an A and the lower grade contributed to some depression or other problem and was a factor in his decision. I think about it, I worry about it, but I realize I will never know. ...
So there may be a case for additional procedures or checks, but in principle I like the idea of allowing school officials to contact parents of students they believe are in over their heads and may endanger their own and/or another person's life if something beyond the competence of the school is not done.
Once again, please accept my profound sympathy over your tragic loss. As a parent of a college student, I can't even imagine the pain that would accompany such a loss."
We thank the professor for sharing and for the kind words, and also thank all who have read, shared memories, photos and condolences on, Brian's site.
And a special thanks to Andy Chung who retrieved Brian's last email and started this memorial site for him. Not only that, but he has maintained it for all this time and has been our technical guardian, something we say Brian must have willed to him! Andy, you have helped us with our technical lives, but more importantly, helped us and others, to heal and remember. God Bless you!
Here is the song Brian's sister wrote for him-
"ANGELS IN THE SKY "
words and music by Katelyn Christ
copyright 2006 kateONkeys
"Had some trouble sleeping,
so went off to close the door.
left him lying on the floor.
Mom tried to nurse him back
but she choked on lifeless air.
We just hope,
he knew how much we care.
Winter tried to steal him,
froze a heart unthawed by love.
But he answered to
those choirs singing above.
Silver eyes went cloudy
to mourn his loss.
Buried with his grief,
he rose above,
with a silver cross.
HIs body couldn't take
the way he would escape.
Chasing dragons in the night,
he held on for dear life.
But in defense of progress
he tried hard to change his life.
Taken young at heart.
He flies with angels in the sky,
Angels in the sky.
Wiser at twenty two
then most are when they meet end.
He left some hope for his family,
and a lesson for his friends.
Life is fragile
when it's clenched in God's fist.
But beyond the sky,
he found a life
he thought he'd missed.
His body couldn't take
the way he would escape.
Chasing dragons in the night.
he held on for dear life.
But in defense of progress,
he tried hard to change his life.
Taken young at heart.
He flies with angels in the sky,
angels in the sky.
Time may mute the silent cry
let out that winter's night.
Because winter fades,
to welcome new spring lights.
But for those who wash his passing
in water of regret,
An ocean of old sorrow
but how can we forget.
'cause Brian couldn't take,
the way he would escape.
Chasing dragons into the night,
he held on for dear life.
But in defense of progress,
he tried hard to change his life.
Taken young at heart.
He flies with angels in the sky,
angels in the sky."
We miss you Brian. Love always and forever,
Mom & Dad, Katelyn & Ashley
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
(St Francis of Assisi)
you are forever our son,
& forever loved by us.
We relinquish our grief and pain to the Lord,
with whom you rest,
while joyfully preserving your memory in our hearts.
We Love you,
Mom & Dad,
Katelyn and Ashley
Ismail, congratulations on the wedding in March! I know Brian will be right by your side as your best man.
To the Christ family, I'm happy to hear that you've been able to help so many others struggling with addiction. I know this time of the year is hard, and I'm thinking of you.
The "32 crew" is still around, we still see each other plenty and there will certainly be a toast to you on March 7th
RIP my friend
The circle of life has a beginning and an end. We all begin with a blank tape. We sustain dings and ups and downs and in the end we have memories and through our memories you are with us.
Love you, dad
We know of a young girl in Georgia who was healed of her heroin addiction with the help of the Cenacolo Community listed below.
Here are some links to recovery sites-
Maryland Private Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Rehab Tr...
Maryland 147-acre private alcohol and drug addiction treatment rehab center. At Father Martin's Ashley our mission is to help the drug addict, alcoholic, chronic pain.
Cenacolo Community brings radical cure for addiction
The Cenacolo Community was founded by Mother Elvira Petrozzi, an Italian nun, in 1983. What would a nun know about addictions? Mother Elvira experienced, first ...
View on www.cenacolouk.org
Hope Reborn: ComunitÃ Cenacolo America - Contact Us
New Life - The New Life Live Show is America's #1 Christian Counseling Talk Show. Since 1985 New Life Live has been broadcasting as a nationally-syndicated, interactive talk radio program which deals with mental health, emotional, relational and spiritual issues from a biblical perspective.
It's coming up on the 10th anniversary of Brian's death. We also want to pass along that at the end of this year we will no longer have this site open for posting. It will still remain open to view.
We've shared our sorrow and our joy. Sorrow over missing him and joy over having known him and had him with us for 22 years. We also have hope for his eternal life with God and this Faith has sustained us.
We try to live intentionally and do things in his memory and because of his memory.
We thank all who have supported us and shared in missing and remembering him with us.
And we thank Andy who has graciously kept this site going for ten years and given us a place to express and share our grief and love.
God Bless you all,
The Christ family
The Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you,
The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace. The strongest of Angels.
Try as we may, we cannot protect our children in every instance. This is monumental in our thoughts about Brian. Of course he was on his own but the feeling still surfaces at times. You go back and try to figure out where you let your guard down, where you didn't teach or show what was necessary to thrive and survive. We did our best based on what we knew at the time.
I believe it's not us who ultimately protect, but God. We wonder why for some there is deliverance from harm and for others there is not deliverance. I have heard in that case there is the accompaniment of angels to strengthen us, during times of harm & even death, as when Jesus was tempted by satan in the wilderness, and during His agony in the Garden of Gethsemene before He was arrested and put to death. (Matthew 4; Luke 22). The Scriptures say that angels "ministered" to Him at both of those times, even though He could have summoned thousands of Angels if He willed, because He is fully human and fully God. He was not to be delivered but to go through the reason He became incarnate in the world-to take upon Himself our transgressions, die for them and lead us all to eternal life through His life, His death and His resurrection. He trampled death and there is the hope of His glory. There is also mystery for us, where faith must come, in not knowing why some are delivered and others not. I believe He gives those who follow Him, mercy, in the form of ministering angels to give strength to get through trials. Trials are for us to learn something and draw nearer to Him. Please don't take my word for this, read the Scriptures for yourselves.
Another lion reference is included is a description of a Monastery I visited on a Pilgrimage to Israel & The Holy Land with a group from our church in March. The reference is in relation to St. Gerasimus. His story is like the one I used to read to Brian from a children's book when he was little. I didn't know it had it's roots, most likely, from this Monastery. Something that may be of interest to some.
Monastery of St Gerasimus
Monastery of St Gerasimus (Bukvoed)
The Monastery of St Gerasimus, one of the earliest of the 70-plus monasteries in the Judaean desert, is named in honour of a pioneering monk who is usually depicted with a pet lion.
A verdant and welcoming oasis in the arid lower Jordan Valley, it is on the east side of highway 90 just north of the Beit-Haâ€™aravah junction, and about 7 kilometres southeast of Jericho.
Across the Jordan River is the place of Jesusâ€™ baptism, Bethany Beyond the Jordan, but the two-storey monastery commemorates an earlier event in Jesusâ€™ life.
According to an old tradition, the monastery was built where Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus took shelter in a cave while fleeing from Herod the Great.
This event is commemorated in the ground-floor crypt beneath the monastery church. An icon illustrates the Flight of the Holy Family into Egypt and a large painting depicts a contented Jesus being nursed at the breast by his mother Mary.
Fresco of St Gerasimus with his lion (Bukvoed)
The upper-floor church contains many holy icons and frescoes, including paintings of Gerasimus and his lion. Cabinets in the crypt store the bones of monks killed during the Persian invasion of 614.
Hospitable place for pilgrims
A place of hospitality and refreshment for pilgrims, with fruit trees, flowers and birdsong, the monastery offers a contrast to the hot and barren environment of the Judaean wilderness.
Founded in the fifth century, it was originally dedicated to Our Lady of Kalamon (Greek for reeds), but was later renamed in honour of Gerasimus, who founded a nearby monastery that had been abandoned.
It was destroyed in 614, rebuilt by the Crusaders, abandoned after the Crusader period, restored in the 12th century, rebuilt in 1588, destroyed around 1734 andre-established in 1885.
In Arabic it is known as Deir Hajla, meaning the monastery of the partridge, a bird common to the area.
Cloister in Monastery of St Gerasimus (Â© Deror Avi)
The monastery functioned in the form of a laura â€” with a cluster of hermitsâ€™ caves located around a community and worship centre. The hermits spent weekdays alone in their caves, occupied in prayer and making ropes and baskets. They went to the centre for Saturdays and Sundays, taking their handiwork and partaking in Divine Liturgy and communal activities.
The monastic rule was strict. During the week the hermit monks survived on dry bread, dates and water. At the weekends they ate cooked food and drank wine. Their only personal belongings were a rush mat and a drinking bowl.
Hermitsâ€™ caves can still be seen in the steep cliffs a kilometre east of the monastery and in the adjacent mountains.
Gerasimus redeveloped monastic life
Like many who founded Judaean monasteries, Gerasimus (also spelt Gerassimos or Gerasimos) came from outside the Holy Land â€” from a wealthy family in Lycia, in present-day Turkey.
Already a monk when he came to Palestine, he followed the monastic leader Euthymius into the desert and became renowned for his piety and asceticism.
Because of the similarity of names, Gerasimus is sometimes confused with St Jerome, the Bible translator who lived in Bethlehem.
Gerasimus is credited with a new development in monastic life. Previously desert monks lived either in caves or in monasteries. He was the first to combine the solitude of a wilderness hermit with the communal aspect of a monastery by bringing hermits together on Saturdays and Sundays for worship and fellowship.
Upper part of iconostasis in monastery church (Â© Deror Avi)
He is believed to have attended the crucial Council of Chalcedon in 451, which caused a major rift in the Eastern Orthodox world.
Called to settle differences of opinion on the nature of Christ, the council declared that he has two natures in one Person as truly God and truly man. Gerasimus briefly opposed this declaration, then accepted it.
The lion depicted in icons of Gerasimus comes from a story that he found the animal wandering in the desert, suffering from a thorn embedded in a paw. The saint gently removed the thorn and tended to the wound.
The lion thereafter devoted himself to Gerasimus, serving him and the monastery and retrieving the monasteryâ€™s donkey when it was stolen by thieves.
The story has it that when Gerasimus died in 475 the lion lay on his grave and died of grief.
Administered by: Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem"
Another musing of mine Brian.
Hard to believe you would be 32 now. You were honorary groomsman recently in your friend's wedding. Nice to see you remembered in that way. There is not a day we do not remember you.
Love on your birthday and always,
Mom and Dad
almost ten years later I miss you terribly and always will until I see you again. It seems that I was able to say goodbye to others who have left us- your grandfathers, grandmother, your aunts, even to our pets, but not to you. Having to say goodbye to someone in the face of death is heartbreaking. Not being able to, leaves so much painfully unsaid. That pain though is but a ripple compared to the wave of anguish from the death that is occurring in the world today.
The world is on fire, in chaos. This country has not fully awakened to that fact. Media lies to us by omitting facts and pushing leftist ideology, which wants the destruction of our country as we know it. People in Iraq and Syria & other parts of the world as well are losing their families, their property, their lives in horrific, evil ways.
Like the Armenian Death March in 1915, Christians especially are being tortured and killed. At that time, the Turkish sultans in the Ottoman Empire hated the Armenians for being Christian and suspected them of siding with the Russians. Hundreds of thousands were put to death under their rule. Then there came a very concerted effort to exterminate them all by The Young Turks, a small group of wealthy, western educated, young, calculating and vicious dictators. They took the killing to an evil systematic level. None of this is included in history classes today, nor when I was in school in the 70's.
First the intellectual Armenians were arrested, followed by confiscation of weapons, "deportation" of the Armenians and confiscation of their"abandoned" property. For deportation they were marched into what is now the Syrian desert, with no water, no food or provisions. If they survived they were either; burned in groups, being sealed in caves; gassed; given tetanus toxoid disguised as tetanus vaccine; or drowned in the Black Sea by the boatful. British pilots over head could see hair waving in the water below. Over 3 million were killed before the British and French attempted late in the game to stop the madness by dividing the Ottoman Empire into the boundaries that compromise the Middle East today. Even after Ataturk came into power and tried to modernize Turkey, (he himself being a Young Turk who pointed to others for the atrocities), the killing continued into 1922 with over 1 million Greeks being slaughtered (Smyrna). This is also the period of WWI.
Your grandfather living on a Greek Island ruled by the Turks at that time, saw many unspeakable things. He had to go to Istanbul for work at age 13 eventually being conscripted into the Turkish army in WWII. He worked as a maitre-d and was chosen by the Turkish Ambassador to work for him in that capacity, and that is how he came to the U.S. Your Dad wrote a book about him & that period called Breadcrumb.
The word 'genocide' was first used to describe the Armenian/Greek slaughters. Hitler pointed to no one caring about the Armenians and he praised the systematic approach used by the Turks to slaughter them. Of course we know what happened next. All of this happened not as a result of U.S. policy as the leaders in power today say, but because of longstanding hatred and desire for "ethnic cleansing".
The very same evil is occurring in the exact same tract of land today. It went on for centuries before as well. The magnitude of killing and people losing loved ones and watching them be tortured and die, is not imaginable.
Proverbs 8:33-36 New International Version (NIV)
33 Listen to my instruction and be wise;
do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
35 For those who find me find life
and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find me harm themselves;
all who hate me love death.â€
True peace does not come from not fighting, but winning. The vanquished do not fight and, therefore, do not have peace on a solid foundation.
--St. Francis de Sales
Missing you Brian
Praying for those being martyred & displaced,
Awhile ago I posted about a song by Kris Kristopherson (6/18/07) that I heard on one of Brian's CD's and how listening to it made me feel. Lizzy posted back (7/24/07) that Brian had always requested that song from her dad's band when he heard them play in Arlington.
That evening at the reunion was really enjoyable for us. We felt closer that night to Brian, sitting by the water and enjoying some of the same music he used to enjoy. Things like that are priceless to us.
Love you & miss you Brian, Mom & Dad
" I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
St Augustine of Hippo
"Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."
"It does not mean to be in a place where there is not noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart."
Thinking of you and missing you Brian,
Love Mom and Dad
For four years I've wanted to finish that race. This year seemed to jump out at me so I signed up a little late for the January 12, 2014 WDW Marathon. With only12 weeks to countdown I started the work to decrease my minute/mile ratio from the required upper limit of 16 min mile to a 15 to 15.5 min mile which I would do run/walking. This time I wasn't doing it for Brian This time I was doing it because of him. His memory has spurred us all on to do more than we thought we could do.
I had a good start and running thru the Magic Kingdom, mile 6, I was at a 15min mile pace. We went the back road out of that area and mile 9 was completed on the Disney race track. The breezy cold morning was now sunny and getting hot. Miles 10-12 took us the back road again into and then through Animal Kingdom and since the sun was up and the parks open, crowds of people were cheering us on. Thank goodness for one man who yelled to us "You've almost completed a half-marathon!". At that instant I checked my timer watch that showed my official time and saw I had a chance to make it to 13.1 in the official completion time for a half marathon. That knowledge, coupled with the fact that the power aid/ hammer gel combination I had been taking in had started some cramping high in my stomach and that there was a lack of cups for passing us water, led to a quick decision to make a half-marathon my race. That's what I did, making it officially to that mark in 3hrs and 27 min., then going on to complete mile 14 for a ride to the finish line.I don't regret stopping and was thrilled to have done it in the time I had trained for. After the anticipation anxiety awaiting the race in the corral at 4am was over and we were on our way, it was great fun. No blisters, stiff for a few days and happy to have tried something out of my comfort zone. Oh one more thing. The people in the van with me on the way to the finish line were injured I think. They called ahead to the officials with our names & bib numbers. We got the medals anyway!! That's Disney for you. My prayer for the race was a passage from Habakkuk 3:19 -"The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk on my high places".
I mention the race because to sign up late as I did I needed to connect with one of the charity groups. I chose Covenant House of Florida an organization who feeds, clothes, houses, counsels and educates youth who are homeless. They also provide substance abuse intervention. With the donations brought in from those who participated in one of the 2014 WDW Marathon events, enough was raised to house and feed the kids in the facility for a month. Their motto is "Our strides in the streets today keep kids off the streets tonight".
Had that goofy penny you flattened in the coin machine in Disney World in my pocket Brian. Missing you, Love, Mom
Love Mom and Dad
Happy birthday, Brian! Still thinking of you.
I saw the Flight of the Butterflies movie at the Smithsonian IMAX Theatre and thought of Brian. The movie details and illustrates the navigation of the Monarchs and how the curiosity of a ten year old boy who became a scientist and made it his lifelong quest to find out where the Monarchs went in the winter, led to just that.
Through the years he enlisted the help of others who volunteered, tagging butterfly wings and calling in locations where they were spotted. When he almost gave up after thinking they were all headed to Texas and not finding any there, a couple in Mexico notified him after learning of his work & after spotting a large number in a forest. For two years they searched for and discovered the location to which the Monarchs migrated. The scientist made the journey to see the millions of butterflies with his wife when he was quite old thinking this was nice to see, but it didn't prove they had migrated there. Sitting on a log to rest he looked down by his boot and on the ground on the wing of a fallen butterfly was one of his tags.
The story was fascinating and marvelous. It showed the beauty of the perseverance in realizing a dream, and that of creation. The Monarch's navigational ability is unbelievably intricate. P5397 was the number on the tag of the Monarch's wing that was found in the Mountains in Mexico that proved the Migrational Path of the butterflies. I think Brian would have liked this story. He loved science and the outdoors.
I remember on his trip to Greece with Kate they experienced the Valley of the Butterflies on the island of Rhodes. He made a point of telling me about it. He also loved the lushness of Costa Rica. I still have the butterfly bush, we purchased from his elementary school in 4th grade, in the backyard making sure to plant other flowers that attract them as well. In grade school he especially liked going to the Natural History Museum to the Bug Exhibit, handling the tarantulas, and large cockroaches without flinching a bit. We went to the first Earth Day Celebration on the Mall in D.C. when he was about ten.
I recently read a story, Proof of Heaven, by a Neurosurgeon, Dr. Eben Alexander, from Lynchburg, VA. He was a scientist who did not believe in heaven, life after death experiences, angels etc., thinking they were only imagery from mechanisms in the brain, until he had a illness that shut down that very part of the brain.
" Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition. "
His experience when in a seven day coma with his cortex completely shut down, and chances of survival next to none, included journeying with an angel & realizing they were traveling on the wing of a butterfly! After having read his account, what struck me in the IMAX movie was the first line the narrator speaks (the supposed voice of the scientist who unravels the mystery of the migration) was something about all of DNA existing in the wings of butterflies. Not an exact quote.
When we were in Tanzania at Oldapai Gorge, the discovery site of the Zinjanthropus skull by the Leakey's, we were told the area was brought to the Leakey's attention by a scientist looking for butterflies. In the movie the couple in Mexico who helped with the discovery, getting closer to finding the resting place of the Monarchs, observed a large group of them at a festival of the dead in early November, which was laden with many flowers. The folk lore is that the butterflies are the returning souls of the children who had died. All kind of interesting.
An early dream I had after Brian passed had me sitting at a table with 3 other people. It had a linen table cloth and nice place settings. A beautiful emerald green and blue butterfly was flying all around the table and me and I told those I was with in amazement but with assurance, "That's Brian". I've heard a lot of grieving mother's stories about butterfly experiences, some pretty remarkable. Whatever they are or represent, they are beautiful creatures and this movie is worth seeing.
I miss talking to you Brian, Love Mom
I was reading another mother's blog about her son who was an addict. He asked her for help. No one wants to live that lifestyle. In moments of sobriety it may be clear the wrong path has been taken, but addiction (to whatever) has an evil, strong pull. She described viewing her son in his hospital bed, having sustained severe physical trauma after he had used drugs, which resulted in his death. It was gut wrenching to read her story.
I realized that only a mother could stand at the bedside and look at their child torn and disfigured. In the claws of imminent death or having already passed. In the case of drug related death, having veered so far away from what you wanted for them yet , the essence of their person, who they really were is what a mother sees and loves and holds on to, making sure it be presented after they are gone. Only a mother can see past the destruction to her child's "being".
But Isn't this the way God deals with us? A merciful God who does not inflict these things upon us, but gives us free will to chose. We all with something we idolize, veer far from what God wants for us, far from Him. Like in the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-32, He welcomes us back to Him. He doesn't need us, we find we need Him. He knows our hearts, our essence.
Luke 15:10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.â€
(repent~ "a change of mind accompanied by regret and change of conduct, "change of mind and heart", or, "change of consciousness")
After almost nine years I felt the need to get Brian's emergency room records. I was in a state of suspended reality when I did CPR on him and then watched them carry him out our front door on a stretcher, strapped in & covered to his neck with a white sheet. I was screaming to God hysterically, "No, no, no God no, don't take him". Being held up, and back by one of the paramedics, I thought I heard one of them say they had a pulse. So in the car as we chased the ambulance we had a glimmer of hope. When we were taken to the ER room where they were working on him, he was lying with only his shorts on , intubated, connected to IVs and electrodes. They were pounding on his chest and shocking him. I held on to his foot in between the shocks. I stood at the foot of the stretcher, knowing what was happening as a nurse, but not believing it was happening as his mother. They stopped and looked at me and said they could do no more. Brian's dad and sister had been given chairs to sit because they were so distraught as they looked on, as was I but I had to be near him. I didn't want to leave him. They ushered us out into a hall and I fell up against a wall shaking and crying as I watched staff pass us by. I never knew if they had ever had a pulse. I couldn't remember if Brian was cold or warm, if he was cyanotic or not at the house when we found him. Here I'm a nurse, but I just couldn't remember. It didn't matter then. What mattered was "him", the essence of who he was to us. What I wanted to hold onto and love. His body I looked past. I just wanted "him" back.
The records I just obtained indicated no, there was no pulse and that we had found him already gone. It didn't offer any kind of consolation merely another fact that I was ready to add to the others we've compiled.
I have talked with many mothers now who have lost their children and it does not get easier to live without them, only easier to comprehend the factual part of things. And easier and almost a necessity to reach out to others in similar situations. God comforts us to comfort others.
On September 16th this year and every year, Brian's birthday, we thank God for having Brian in our lives & for the blessings and joy he gave us.
We love you and miss you Brian. Mom & Dad
Lee Ann told me about their trip to Tanzania in her note. I was thrilled to read more about it in this blog. I know Brian made that trip with his family. He is free now to be with everyone he knew and loved and he waits for that blessed reunion.
Many blessings to the Christ and Madni family!
I didn't go to Brian's grave today. I don't as much as I did. I don't think of him as there. Though I still as his Mother want to take care of and visit the sight. A poem I love from Streams in The Desert, a devotional my Mother gave me, expresses how I think about him now, on the "other side".
E'en for the dead I will not bind my soul to grief.
Death cannot long divide.
For is it not as if the rose that climbed my garden wall
has blossomed on the other side?
Death does hide, but not divide.
You are but on Christ's other side!
You are with Christ, and Christ with me.
In Christ united still are we.
I miss you so much Brian & will Love you always, Mom
A favorite passage that speaks to me here is Romans 8:38-39
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I recently came across the tape and decided to see if I could get a CD of the story. I found this description of his book and wanted to share it with anyone who would be interested in hearing this amazing story.
We are so grateful to Fr. Stone for his help to Brian & us. Brian listened to him because he had been in his shoes. He gave Brian hope. Maybe this will give someone else hope. Praise God.
Love and miss you Brian, Mom
Date with Divine Destiny
by Fr. Ron Stone
"How far can a person turn from God before there is "no turning back"? Can God really heal addictions and totally transform lives by grace alone? What must a fallen-away believer do to get back on track and strive after holiness?
God's Powerful Intervention
In this incredible new four-CD (or tape) series, Date with Divine Destiny, you'll encounter the reversion story of a young man who literally came within centimeters of committing suicide - yet was miraculously spared. He readily admits that his life consisted of "drugs, thugs and violence." If not for God's intervention, Ron Stone would have died from a drug overdose - just another sad statistic in a police report. Now, you'll journey with Father Stone on his unbelievable odyssey of faith from a drug rehab center to the altar of God. Prepare to be amazed as you witness how the Lord "writes straight with crooked lines."
God's Omnipotence at Work
You'll be encouraged and inspired as this former bodybuilder candidly shares how Christ healed him of a terrible drug addiction and eventually led him back to his childhood Catholic Faith through the Holy Rosary. Despite periodic relapses and constant interior struggles, this young man eventually entered the seminary even though he did not have a bishop to sponsor him! But, you'll discover how our Heavenly Mother took Ron by the hand and gradually began to transform his soul into the image and likeness of her Divine Son.
Reversion, Consecration, Revelation
Date with Divine Destiny will reaffirm your belief in God's omnipotence - and the Blessed Virgin Mary's maternal care and concern for every Christian. This digitally recorded four CD (or tape) set will inspire you as never before. In addition to Father's conversion story, you will also get his talk on Marian consecration and a two-part presentation on the Book of Revelation. Get ready to reach new heights of sanctity by listening to these unforgettable talks. This is the type of message you will listen to again and again and want to share with others. Purchase a set for yourself and another for family and friends."
"We'll be Friends Forever, won't we, Pooh? " asked Piglet.
"Even longer: Pooh answered.
Love you forever Brian. Mom
O'Connell Mom, I wonder if you feel comfortable emailing me (bottom of page). I would like to talk with you. Thanks for your support on the site. If anyone would like to email me related to this site please feel free to do so.
The daily meditation blog
"January 23rd, 2013
Make Me Feel Your Presence. Years without Prayer.
Make me feel Your presence
Lord, I have to tell You that prayer is a problem for me. How should I collect my spirit, which is split and squandered in a thousand pieces? How should I concentrate; how can I close off from all around me and within me each entrance from the outside world, appearances, and sensations?
My mind buzzes like a beehive. My ears are bombarded by a million noises. In my eyes images and pictures flash constantly one after the next. And when I close my eyes, my imagination composes and presents me with a sight of many colors.
How should I restrain all of these things, so that I can focus my being and its senses in prayer?
When I speak with someone else, God, I donâ€™t need to make a huge endeavor at self concentration. The other personâ€™s presence is felt absolutely. I see him, I hear him, and I hold his hand.
But You, God, I donâ€™t see You. You are invisible, inaccessible to our sense of vision. Nor can I apprehend You by my hearing. My five senses betray me. How, then, should I fix my attention on Your face?
They say the only approach to this is through faith. But my own faith is weak and pallid.
Do You see then, God, how hard this attempt is for me? Thatâ€™s why I dare ask You for forgiveness, if so often, for allotting so short a time for prayer, and even then in that time my mind races incessantly here and there, while my soul is besieged by and yields to a whole crowd of things that are completely foreign to prayer.
Empower my faith, O mighty God. Grant me the great gift of feeling Your Presence at the time of prayer.Show Your face to Your servant (Psalms 30:17). Then, I know, the confusion in my thoughts will cease and will stop running toward external things. My soul will be in the clear and beyond any fogginess; its eye will meet the light of Your face, and will be captivated by it.
Oh, that You would have given me this gift! How much more I would have been able to love You then. And how much better would I have prayedâ€¦.
Years without prayer
How could I do such a thing! God, how could I have been so wrong? For so many years to pass without praying?
A life full of storms and feverish moments without the breath of Your contact!
A road fraught with traps, running alongside bottomless pits, beneath tempests, without seeking Your assistance! What folly this was!
I had forgotten You, Lord. I had forgotten my source, my Life. I lived as one having no hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12)? Day by day the human submitted within me. I saw that I was changing into a machine, whenever I did not become an animal. Horrible!
But You felt compassion for me, O Tireless Hunter after souls. You suddenly lit certain brilliant lights in the darkness. I saw.
I perceived that without You everything is futile and loathsome. Suddenly the value and meaning of prayer was revealed to me. Your godly hands parted the ash and mud that covered my heart. You found the spark. You blew on it to fan it. Your breath transformed the spark into a flame.
The fire burns again bright inside me. I thank You.
But the road is long. I still canâ€™t pray, my God. I feel tongue-tied. My lips are sealed. I try, but I need Your help.
Stretch out Your hand one more time. Touch my lips. Break the seals, and prayer will gush out like a river from my mouth that until now did not know how to hold the best words for You.
My God, make me a prayerful person. Connect me through prayer with my eternal well.
~Taken from Speaking to God, by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Speaking to God was originally published in Greek in 1960 by the Christian Student Union, Athens, Greece, and is now available in English."
Dad really loved you and was devastated by your loss in 2004. I hope you and he have a wonderful reunion in heaven
The precious children in CT are remembered in our prayers, and especially their parents.
A fellow traveler
It's hard though to even write today because of the tragedy of the horrific loss of life yesterday in Connecticut.
The first thing I thought when I woke up today was "Dear God, it's real". The same thought we've faced every morning since we lost Brian- the reality every parent faces who has lost a child. That intensity fades but never goes away.
It hard to be faithful in this world but when I was facing the darkness of living without Brian, faith in God's ability to turn evil into good and His love for us is what lit my way. It's up to us to carry on His good.
"The way to God lies through love of other people and there is no other way. At the last Judgment I shall not be asked if I was successful in my ascetic exercises or how many prostrations I made in the course of my prayers. I shall be asked did I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners: that is all I shall be asked".
by St. Maria Skobtsova of Paris
VERITAS UNITAS CARITAS
TRUTH, UNITY, LOVE
Brian had a tattoo on his upper arm. It was a cross with the words Veritas horizontally and Unitas vertically. I had only seen it a few times as he only had it a few months before he died, but was starkly reminded of it as it was used for identification on the coroners report.
My heart goes out to the parents who will now have a copy of that certificate for their children.
I heard this on a radio show yesterday- "If you pray, pray and if you don't, it's a good time to start".
We love you Brian
Life just hasn't been the same
I felt Brian's presence with us. It is absolutely something he would have done. He definetly would have climbed Mt Killamanjaro. We took his compass along that we ended up happily bestowing to our guide who was thrilled, and we also took along Brian's flashlight, whistle and backpack.
We met people from the Massai tribe, visited a school and met the children, stayed in a tented camp in the Serengeti, went to Ngorongoro Caldera (crater) one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. We saw many animals and experienced animal behaviors while out on the safari drives, including lions stalking and chasing zebras at water hole, elephants chasing lions away from their kill at a river & a leopard pulling it's prey up on a tree branch for herself and her cub.
We even had lions right outside our tent one night from 8:30 pm till 4:30 am making sounds I will never forget!! Very un-nerving!! The tents were sturdy canvas but a lion could have easily ripped through it I am sure! We were told that the wildlife would not bother us while in them because they had no interest in them or understanding of what they were, and that we'd be fine unless we came out to encounter the animals face to face. We were instructed to zip up and not come out till morning, when the guides would be there to meet us. Katelyn was in the tent next to us and she, like us, stayed motionless all night fearing making any noise. It was exciting , only after it was over the next morning!
The tents which we were in for 4 nights in the Serengeti had beds, a changing room, showers and a toilet inside so they were not pup tents & there were torches lit outside each one-but still!!! The other nights we were in cabins and lodge rooms.
When I went to a Kentucky conference for bereaved parents about 4 years ago, the parents picked a symbol for their child. I picked a giraffe for Brian's. On our trip we saw so many beautiful giraffes. They have such a graceful and peaceful presence. Here's an excerpt from Brian's site when I wrote about the conference-
"I chose a giraffe because the long neck represents spiritual forsight, they are very curious, and can defend themselves with one quick blow from their hooves.- Brian was very curious and bright all through childhood, introspective and thoughtful in his thinking, and held a blackbelt in tae kwon do. When he was little he was peaking out through his blinds. When I asked him what he was doing he said "there might be a giraffe looking in!" I got him a little giraffe that he carried with him to college. I guess he was facing his fears."
I guess we faced some fears too with the lions!
I know Brian would've loved that we did this. When he was in fourth grade he and I were reading a book -that I took along on the trip but never had time to read- called Allen Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard. It is an adventure story into the center of Africa (Tanzania?). Three men and their guide on a perilous journey of discovery. Brian and I left the book unfinished. I feel like I finished it with my own journey.
Just one more way Brian lives in our hearts and our lives.
Love and miss you Brian, Mom
He had an extraordinary intellect
And a wonderful sense of humor
He was kind, and trustworthy
What a good friend he was
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His nameâ€™s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord
We miss you so much Brian. Love you always, Mom & Dad