I’m having one of those days again. Feeling a bit out of sorts and bluesy. In other words bummed out. Why? Well today would have been my good buddy Bri’s 62nd birthday. God I sure miss him. He’s been gone now nearly six years. Where does the time go. Seems like only yesterday we were racing around in our VW’s, pounding Budweiser and listening to Frank Zappa! Good times.
As you may know if you’ve read my home page Brian was my inspiration for starting my blog, a way of keeping his memory alive. I was privileged to have Brian as a close friend for nearly 40 years. As a tribute to his memory I’m reposting a piece I wrote about him back in early 2011. At that time I’d received several requests for more information from people who had learned about his death from my website. Here is that article exactly as posted. This in part is Brian’s story.
Buddy Boy Bri!
In a nutshell, Brian’s life was a battle. For most of his life he fought the demons of his alcoholism and for over twenty of those years he managed to win the battle of everyday. Through those years of sobriety he was a diligent, hard-working individual, who worked 20 plus years at Citrus Community College as a groundsman. He married a woman he met in rehab and despite the countless warnings and advise against two addicts marrying, he went on to prove the naysayers wrong. They remained married until the end and raised two wonderful children.
When his wife was diagnosed with a chronic painful condition that limited her activities, Brian stepped in and not only helped care for her, but took over many of the parental duties outside the home. There were many of his friends, myself included, who worried that the added pressure he was dealing with would push him over the edge and back to the bottle, but Brian persevered and did a remarkable job. His worse vice was smoking which, despite many attempts, he was never able to quit.
Through the years it wasn’t uncommon to see Brian with his young children, around downtown Glendora, at the market or other locations. When they were older he often took them to work at the college on Friday or Saturday evenings when he was on duty for high school football games. I had the good fortune of often seeing him there with the kids, as our high school uses Citrus as our home field. He loved to talk about his kids and always seemed content. All appeared to be going well, other than his arthritis, but things took a turn for the worse when his mother died.
Things started to turn ugly when Brian discovered his mom dead in her home during the Christmas holidays 2005. She’d been dead for a couple of days, it really shook him up. When I saw him he told me he was okay but I knew that wasn’t true. He looked shell shocked. A few weeks later he told me that his mom had left him the house and he really wanted to live there with his family. He was so excited about moving back to Azusa. He’d been renting forever and at long last they could have a place of their own.
Sadly things didn’t turn out as he would have liked. His wife didn’t want to leave their rented home in Glendora. She didn’t want to live in Azusa. This was a bitter point of contention, that led to their separation. He continued to pay the rent on the Glendora house and being there for his children, but Brian moved to his new home alone.
A year later, near the anniversary of his mom’s passing, Brian lost it big time. After over twenty years of sobriety, he went on a three day drinking binge that ended with him trying to asphyxiate himself by locking himself in the garage and starting up his mom’s car. If his brother hadn’t come by and found him, he might have succeeded. He was rushed to the hospital put on a 72 hour suicide watch then committed to Aurora Charter Oak Recovery Center for a few months. While there he met a patient named John. They hit it off right away and became friends. John needed a place to stay so Brian told him that when he was released he could stay at his house.
Brian was finally released and returned home. A few weeks later John moved in. There was some worry at the time that John was scamming Brian and would rip him off, but those fears proved to be unfounded. Any help, John received from Brian monetary or otherwise, was given freely by Brian with no reservation or expectations. He always had a big heart.
Things went well for several months. Brian enjoyed having John around. But in August
06 Bri had a major set back. While in Las Vegas with his wife and two kids he found some of his wife’s pain medication and over medicated causing quite a scene at the Mirage Hotel where they were staying. Security had to lock down one entire floor because of his wild antics. He was hospitalized and remained there for a little more than a week. John called to let me know what was going on and kept me posted on the situation the entire time. Upon Brian’s release he drove to Vegas to pick him up and bring him home. In time he proved to be a valuable friend.
A few months later Brian was forced to retire from Citrus College. His chronic arthritis no longer allowed him to do the job. For nearly a year he seemed to be doing okay. John was good company and kept a close eye on him. Then, like clockwork just before his birthday in late August 07 he had another melt down, overdosed and was hospitalized again. Tim Ryan, my wife and I went to see him and he seemed to be doing okay and was released a few days later.
He was fine for few more months but then he overdosed again. He was taken to the emergency room. where he lapsed into a coma and was in ICU for several weeks. Eventually he was moved to rehabilitation facility. About a month and a half later he came out of the coma but remained hospitalized until March of 2008. He’d been hospitalized for more than 7 months.
Over the next eight month things appeared to be going well, but he was very depressed. He even survived the usual depression he suffered nearly every August around his birthday which was quite an accomplishment. Then in mid November 08 he began seeing a new psychologist for his depression. I remember him telling me that he’d walked in, talked with the psychologist for about half an hour and walked out with a prescription for a powerful new anti depressive. A week later Brian was dead. Free of all the pain…
His death was recorded as an accidental overdose of prescription medications. I don’t remember the name of the new med but I researched it on the internet right after his death. It was powerful stuff, with several known side effects, complete with warnings that initially the drug could increase feelings of depression and suicide and the patient should not be left alone when starting on the drug. Besides the mind meds Brian was also taking pain meds for his arthritis. The combination proved lethal. He died on Thanksgiving Day 2008.
Brian’s death was very sad, but not unexpected. He’d played with his med dosages several times before and seemed to enjoy pushing the limit. It was like a game to him. I truly believe his death was accidental. There were too many things Brian enjoyed about living to end it that way. Brian used to tell me that most days, the good outweighed the bad. I know he would never have intentionally left his kids fatherless. He loved his children and spoke of them often. He would never have done that to them. No way…
Farewell old friend, You are missed…