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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.

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