One year ago today my friend Brian Windell was killed in a car accident. Brian and I graduated together from Western Christian College in 1999. The news of his death came as a horrifying shock to me. I have thought of him and his family often over this last year. There are many emotions involved when someone you care about leaves this world. It's because of my struggle to deal with those emotions that I haven't written anything about this before now. In some ways I still don't feel ready to write.
Brian was a good friend. Always there with an ear to listen and an encouraging word or simply a shoulder to cry on, if that was what was needed. I have fond memories of camp fire devos, late night walks and deep conversations. The high school drama team had a performance in Bozeman, Montana once and Brian tagged along to visit family. On the drive back home, there were some amazing northern lights in the sky. It turned out that Brian had never seen them before. It was hard for me to decide which to watch, the lights in the sky or Brian's amazement at God's magnificent display. Another memory that sticks out in my mind is of our grade 12 camping trip. A lot of crazy things happened that weekend including blowing up part of a chimney with a butane cartridge from a cordless curling iron late one night. Brian loved playing with fire. After we had been sufficiently reamed out by Momma G the group of us decided to go for a walk. For some reason everyone else lagged way behind and it ended up just being Brian and I for a long time. I wish I could remember the details of our conversation that night but I can't. I do remember we shared about some of our struggles and our goals and dreams for the future. Eventually the rest of our group caught up to us and Brian had the idea of hiding in the ditch until they had gone past us. He looked at me and asked if I could scream, I simply grinned and then screamed at the top of my lungs. We could hear one of our friends, Jeannie, get really upset and the rest of them trying to calm her down and figure out where I was. Brian literally fell to the ground laughing. We shared a pretty good laugh as we all walked back to the campsite. These are just a few of many memories I have of Brian.
After he moved back to the states to go to university Brian and I kept in touch through email. I only saw him two or three times after grade 12 and eventually the frequency of our emails lessened. We may have drifted apart as seems to happen to so many friendships as people go their separate ways but every time we did touch base we picked up exactly where we had left off.
Not very long after hearing of Brian's death I came across my grade 12 address book that had been put together by a classmate. There was room for each student to leave a comment underneath their contact information. Brian wrote about some of his memories from that year, including fire, butane and the northern lights. He finished off by talking about wanting more time to make more memories and wrote, "We'll have plenty of time before long. Just make sure you go to the same place I do. (I'm going up, I like fire and all but not that much)" I never imagined that Brian would be gone so soon. He left behind a wife of five years and an eight month old daughter as well as the rest of his family and friends. I know that we are all looking forward to joining him "up" there one day. Brian's family and friends are especially in my thoughts and prayers today.