Rest in Peace Brian

A friend of mine, Brian Nelson, died this month. He had such a horrendous medical history, multiple transplants, cancer, the guy was just hit with so much.

He started to blog about it here.

A friend of his posted about him on the Times, and I responded to what his friend said.  He talked about how he and a couple of other friends were helping Brian build a kayak before he died. One thing he wrote stood out for me. He described Brian admiring the kayak they were building.

“Walking her length, he would trail a hand along her contours with a pleased smile, pause for breath and place a finger over the tracheal tube to speak. ‘She’s beautiful, isn’t she?’ Then, ‘Let’s get her finished.'”

Brian was really like that, relentlessly positive.  He played the cards he was dealt as best he could.  I posted that I would have been miserable and bitter in his shoes.

But I thought about it later and realized no, my over-riding emotion would definitely have been fear.  I most assuredly would have spent my last months terrified, not able to see the beauty in a grain of wood.  And I would have wasted the time I had left.  So now I’m not only impressed by how Brian was able to maintain a positive attitude about life, but by his courage.

That picture was from Brian and Diane’s wedding in 2006.  My condolences to Diane and everyone else who knew and loved Brian.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

2 thoughts on “Rest in Peace Brian

  1. I read that article about Brian on the NYT website. He certainly played the cards he was dealt with grace, didn’t he?

    I’m really sorry for your loss, Stacy.

  2. Thank you. I didn’t know him well. I knew Diane better. She was one of the people in charge of coordinating the 9/11 volunteers at St. Paul Chapel.

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