He didn’t need to wear a slimming color but he was dressed mostly in black, headphones in, Playstation Portable in hand. He almost always looked like he was trying to sneak a nap in during the church service. And there was usually a hood or, even better, his signature fedora to hide his face that much more.
That hat, man. Those of us who knew him have all caught him striking a marlboro man pose with that fedora as he walked up and down the highways in Canton. His poses provided me and the rest of the Student Ministry at Oak Leaf Church with so many smiles. It was like he was trying conjure up the epitome of coolness but his timing was all wrong. Ultimately, though, it is part of what made him cool because he would always laugh with us and strike an even bolder pose.
I know Brandon had a huge capacity to love because of what he shared with me while I was his chauffeur a few times. He barely (barely!) had an income but he had me drive him to the store so he could make a cake for someone. I accidentally found out he was spending his last pennies for a few weeks to do so.
Another time while driving Brandon around I asked him what was important in his life. Really, I was beating around the bush to make sure he knew Jesus. He definitely answered my subquestion, but not in the way I expected.
He responded with story after story of someone he helped out because he couldn’t fathom leaving them without aid. He had just turned 18 at the time. Most 18-year-old boys in Brandon’s place would have every excuse to be selfish. Not Brandon. He was an unending source of service. He wanted to feed a family here, encourage someone there, and work off the gas money he was costing me. He had been in many dark situations that I know 18-year-old me would have failed miserably (really you could probably put 28-year-old me in that category too). And yet it seemed that every time he came out able to smile and love on everyone around him.
Yeah, you wouldn’t think Brandon was the kind of guy he was by looking at him. He was always tired because he got up 4 hours earlier than the rest of us so he could walk 2-6 miles to church. It was important that he get there. It was important to him that he be present and be community. This kid wanted to learn more about Jesus and he made sure he was at the place where he could do just that. He loved all of us. And we love him, too.
It’s not cool that your life ended before we were ready. As if we ever could be. It’s not cool that I didn’t find a chance to give you a car so this could be avoided. It’s not cool that a guy who showed us so much love would have to experience any pain at all.
It breaks my heart.
Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for the cake. Thank you for the smiles. Thank you for showing us how important we are to you.
Thank you for showing us the kingdom of God.
I love you, Brandon. And I so look forward to seeing you again in God’s glory.