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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gone Too Soon

It's been said that laying someone to rest whose life is cut short is much harder than losing someone who lived a long and fulfilling life. No words have ever rang more true, especially in the days following the loss of my cousin, Brian Theodore Sawyer. Brian was born in Bakersfield in November of 1972, brother to Christopher and, later, Patrick, and son of Donna and Charlie Sawyer.

These three young men are my cousins and some of the best friends I've ever had, regardless of how spread out we are or the amount of time that passes between visits. Patrick and Christopher are both terrific fathers of some pretty great kids, and had Brian been able to form a family I'm sure that he would have followed suit well. He adored his nephews and nieces and was a very beloved uncle to them, and has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on them for many years to come.

Pat, Chris and Brian were a very adventurous clan growing up, often making a reputation for themselves through a string of inventive yet mischievous activities such as creating a bridge to cross a creek by chopping down a neighbor's tree. One game I recently learned of, which I never played (had to endure), was called "Night Ninjas" in which all of the lights in the house would be turned off while the three boys ran through the house trying to find each other, only to give the others a hefty pounding. Those three young boys epitomized the phrase "boys will be boys" that many use when excusing some pretty boisterous behavior.

In the middle of all of this chaos was Brian, a young man who I've always remembered as just someone who is fun to be around, like his brothers. Fresh out of his teens, Brian entered the Army and a period of time passed that I didn't see him. Now don't ask me why, but for some reason I used to see Brian as the human figure of the Disney character Goofy. He was slim, tall, and funny, and that all changed when he returned from his time in the military. Brian returned from the Army stalky, outgoing and covered in tattoos, but was still every bit our brother, cousin, son, and friend. The tattoos, which he proudly adorned, reflected some choices that he made while befriending new people and accepting some new ideas which were questionable by most. However, underneath the ink Brian was basically the same person that we all loved and admired.

After working through jobs ranging from medical to technical, Brian found his true passion in music. He was a musician and singer for a few different groups, and to my understanding his final project was a bit of a re-awakening for him after years of living in relative darkness which was reflected in previous musical ventures.

In early February of 2008, Brian was in Elk Grove with friends recording music for his latest project. He was taken to a local hospital after being found breathing shallow, and fell into a coma. With family and friends surrounding, Brian passed away at 35 years of age late Wednesday evening on February 13th after exhausting options to try and revive him.
We are still unsure of the exact cause of death, but none of that really matters now as Brian rests, having been sent off in honor with a tribute from Army officials and the playing of much admired bagpipes to the tune of "Amazing Grace". The kaleidoscope of people that I met at the service was a very endearing look into the person that Brian was. He attracted all types of people with his personality, his vibrant outlook and, most of all, the enormous pride that Brian held in friends and family.

In my cousins Patrick and Christopher, I still see much of Brian and in that way he'll live on for as long as we keep remembering him.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What does Valentine's Day mean to you?

As a single young man, through much of my twenties, Valentine's Day was nothing but a commercial holiday made up so Hallmark and candy companies can get some early sales each year. I had a few relationships through my twenties, only two I'd consider "serious", and V-day didn't occur during either of them. I can only guess that my outlook of the day may have been a bit different had I shared it with someone.

Almost ten years after my first serious relationship was starting, I'm approaching my two-year anniversary with my wife Kacy. While I retain some of the same feelings about Valentine's Day in general, I definitely see how it changes when you have someone in your life and you want to use the day to show them how you feel about them every day of the year.

Our first Valentine's Day together was in 2005 and we went to Disneyland, which I consider to be one of our best trips and times together other than our Maui honeymoon. We were still pretty early into our relationship, about 2 or 3 months since Christmas time was really when we started feeling like it was going somewhere. Just to start the trip off right, I made arrangements to have a vase of tulips on the table in our hotel room when we arrived, being that they are her favorite. We had a great time, spending time at both Disneyland and California adventure. Throughout the whole trip, I think we both felt like we saw a future building and it really had nothing to do with the fact that it was a Valentine's Day trip.

Kacy and I just sort of "get along" without much effort at all. Even when we're arguing, it's more like playful banter because it's really sarcastic and overdone. We get a good laugh when Kacy's mom is around because we start going at it over something silly and her mom feels the need to mediate and "break it up" and we always have to calm her down and remind her that we're really just playing.

This Valentine's Day is very special because it's the first for our son Gavin who was born last June. We knew early on that we both wanted kids and he came a little earlier than we had planned but there was never a moment of "oh crap, now what do we do?" I recall the moment I found out she was pregnant because I was going to vote in November. You can read all about that in a previous post "Gavin Wade Arrives."

As I write this post, I look forward to many more years celebrating that first Valentine's Day that I shared with Kacy and this year with Gavin.

To those of you reading this, I'd love to hear what Valentine's Day means to you and hope you'll share any V-day stories you have.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Another one for the books.......

In the days leading up to yesterday's huge upset, I was telling everyone that there was NO WAY that the Patriots would give up a 19-0 season. All season long, and especially in the playoffs, Tom Brady was nearly untouchable and throwing in fine style with almost no mistakes.

Well, that all changed and in a very big way when Brady got knocked up and down the field, hardly displaying the composure he had in his previous 3 Super Bowl trips, all ending in victory.

Personally, I think the Giants defensive line and blitzing strategy are what won the game for them. Giving Eli Manning the MVP award was clearly a case of giving the trophy to the QB by default. I'm not going to ignore Eli Manning's performance, but I will say that the better quarterback and team did not win this year. Brady was sacked and pushed out of his comfort zone several times, causing what would have been easy catches into out-of-bounds duds and the NY defense made that happen.

The real mystery lies in Brady's inability to shake the onslaught that charged him play after play, as he has in his previous wins. This game was not unlike any other game in which people have come after Brady in a desperate attempt to shake him. However, this time it actually worked. Overall, I'd have to say there was a perfect combination of unfortunate events which caused the outcome of Super Bowl XLII. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on Brady and the Pats to come back hard next year and win it all. While I would normally say that another 18-0 season is unlikely, this huge upset has told me that anything is possible.

I'm sure Brady woke up this morning wondering what the hell happened and why he's not wearing his 4th ring, joining the likes of Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw. However, it's hard to feel sorry for Tom Brady considering that he lost the Super Bowl and a shot at NFL history with a 19-0 record, but he goes home at night and sleeps with Gisele.