Today as we get ready to celebrate a New Year, I want to remember a friend, a brother, a son, and an uncle, who rang in his last new year with 2008. Please remember to count all of the blessings you had in 2008, and to remember each and every day that we only know we have today with the ones we love.
I knew I wanted to write this blog for a while now, and every time I thought of writing, I felt a little sick about what I would say. I knew that I couldn't celebrate my New Year without taking the time to think of the Parsons family and to remember Bronson. I feel sick the way I felt sick a year ago when I got a tragic call from Robin last New Year's Day and I didn't know what to say. I still don't know what to say, but I'm going to give it a try.
Today has been one year since our friend Bronson Parsons was hit by a drunk driver, while walking home, late on New Years Eve and killed. He was 25.
In one year, not a day has gone by that I don't hurt for his mom, Carol. She is almost all I can think about sometimes. Most of you know that he was the brother of my good friend, Robin. Robin was my roommate in college, and she was the matron of honor in my wedding, her parents, Carol and Paul, attended our wedding and celebrate their wedding anniversary with us each year. I have been close to their family since college, Lawrence loved them as soon as he met them a few years later. But Carol, Bronson's mother, is who I always think about. My heart hurts for her. It has been heart wrenching to hear about each member of their family dealing with the grief differently, and at times causing each other more grief. I think about how as a mother, you just want to take away everyone's pain, and keep everyone happy and together. Trying to do this while the tragic reality sets in, must, at times be too much to bear. But as a mother, you would have to choice to but keep on keepin' on.
Though I know that one year does not take away the hurt or the memories or the past. I hope and pray that somehow as time heals wounds it will help ease the sharpness of the pain. Carol, Paul, Robin, Erin...all really wonderful people. All dealing as best they can, trying to allow each other do what they need to do, even though it can sometimes be hard to understand or relate or not worry about what will help and what makes more hurt. Grief is sickening and it doesn't go away. It's affects areas further reaching than we can ever know.
I hope they found some comfort in him helping 6 others an an organ donor. Recently they heard through the grapevine of the man who received one of Bronson's lungs. He was a father near their hometown who was out hunting with his son for the first time in years. Bronson loved to hunt and it is just what he would have wanted his lung to be out doing.
My friend Robin is such a rock for her parents, her sister, her kids... Her old friends, her new friends, her neighbors, her husband, her community...I could go on. I worry about her because it's a lot of work being such a rock. But I know that she finds comfort and purpose in being that strength to her loved ones and I admire her ability to put her foot down when someone crosses the line. She is firm, honest, and frank, in a loving and warm way. She is kind and strong. Her family could not, would not, have survived this without her. I'm so sad for my friend, that she lost her only brother, and the uncle to her children. But it's different than the sadness I feel for her mom. I think that this must be what happens to you when you become a mother. You relate to other mothers worries in a way you didn't know possible, and often wish you couldn't. Carol is wonderful and positive, looking for glimpses of what good could come of this, and trying her hardest to help her surviving children and husband get through it. But I often lay awake at night, thinking of the pit I feel in my own stomach, and imagining her pit being a million times more painful.
After several paragraphs, I still don't feel like I've done justice to remembering Bronson, on this, the one year anniversary of his death. A date meant for partying and celebrating, not mourning. Though I guess those that knew Bronson might feel that he would want them to party on in his honor. Even so, I'd guess his family will have a hard time doing that this year. I hope I've said that I love and adore his family, I pray for them often. I'm proud of them, especially Robin and Carol, for finding the "good" in the bad. I hurt for them, I miss Bronson with them, I mourn still with them. For now, I can tell a few of my favorite memories of Bronson, and keep praying for healing for all.
I want them to remember that memories of Bronson many people smile.
When Robin got married in 1998 Bronson must have been 14 or 15. Will and I thought he was so funny, he was tall and lanky and sort of at that awkward stage of have a body too big and long for himself. I think he was sneaking drinks from the bar and was dancing like crazy. Will said that he was 'loose like a long neck goose'. It was so fitting and true and FUNNY!
The nickname stuck for him, until the next time we saw him, he'd grown from awkward and lanky into a tall solid man.
In 2002, shortly after our wedding, Paul and his friend came from Troy, MT to a PSU vs UofMt game. Robin and Trevor came to visit too. Bronson had just moved to Portland, following his girlfriend who was attending PSU. We had a GREAT time watching college football all day with the whole Parsons/Cummings clan first at our little apartment, then to the game. It was so fun to start our Portland State rivalry tradition with them, with years of crazy adventures that still make us laugh. This year we went to the game, and while we had fun, it just wasn't the same without Paul, Robin, and Bronson.
In 2003, Lawrence and I and Bronson flew to Spokane, rented a car and drove to Missoula for Homecoming. We all had to work so we didn't leave Portland until 5pm Friday, got to Spokane and 6pm, got out of the airport at 7pm (8pm Missoula time) and raced our way across the state line. Lawrence drove, I had shotgun, Bronson had middle back. He had his seat belt on but it felt like his face was right between Lawrence's and mine the whole ride. We passed signs that said how far it was to Missoula. Missoula 170, Missoula 165, Missoula 162, Missoula 161. You have got to be kidding me? Seriously, we are on I-90, not much between Spokane and Missoula that we need an update EVERY mile almost. So we started a little game, guessing what the next sign would be. Whoever guessed the closest (without going over of course), was owed a beer by the loser. More rules to the game progressed as far as who got to chose their number in what order. The funniest part of this game was that we ended the game when we were around Frenchtown and it was Missoula 9 miles. NINE MILES. We played this game from 170-9 miles, everyone was owed 20 or so beers due to the 60 or so signs showing distance to Missoula. None of us once said "Isn't it weird that we are STILL playing this game" or "Hey guys, look how long we have been playing it" No no. We were all EAGERLY playing it, waiting for the next sign in anticipation, and couldn't wait for the next guess.
That same same trip we saw Bronson out at the Bodega and he made some close minded remark about something, Robin and I tried our hardest to open his 20ish year old mind, with no luck. He was a stubborn know it all with a very strong will. Robby and I rolled our eyes at him, and how he had so much to learn about the world. (We knew, we too grew up in small town, and thought we knew it all when we got to the city). The next day we had a flight out of Spokane at 7pm and had the whole day at Lake Coeur d'Alene , it was very enjoyable...ate ice cream, read the paper by the lake. We were glad that we had Bronson with us that trip, he was so fun and funny. Now, looking back, we are even gladder.
There were a few other times we saw Bronson, when his family came to Portland to see us, we also saw him, had our numbers in each other's cell phones, and said we should get together some time but never did. Bronson had a big goofy smile and usually brought a fun crazy time with him. He was still figuring out things in the world, and hadn't gotten it all right yet (who of us has). But he was so young, and there is the shame. There were lots and lots of times Robby and I discussed our younger clueless brothers, wondering when they'd pull their heads out. Wishing we could impart our unending wisdom on them, mothering them and smothering them with our 'my way is right'-ness. Now I feel a little strange complaining about it alone to her. She still gets it though. And so do I, and I remember to be grateful for my family. For my brother and for my mom.
Mr. Bronson Parsons, I'm glad I knew you as you became a man. I'm glad you lived in Portland and we got the chance to see you often. I'm sad that you are gone. A lot of people are. I'm glad it was through no fault of your own. I miss you and so do many, many others.