I normally don't share writing from my journal, but this is an exception. My friend was senselessly murdered by strangers (and mere kids, at that) several years ago. It was in late summer, and so every year as the heat rises, so do memories of this friend. I can think only of him lately, so that's what I've been writing about, too.
For a group of kids in the southeast, this time of year begins to weigh heavy on us. We're not kids anymore, I suppose, but in my mind we will always be suspended in time, back to those days when we were young and foolish, and every day was an adventure we took on together. Some people would discount those days due to the haze of drugs and late nights that seemed to fuel the friendships we were forming. But through the years, as we moved past the drugs and the long summer days, our friendships grew with us, and outlasted the years of our youth. Today most all of us are still close. Trials have tested us, and some of our ties have loosened from the burdens of the years, but even if some of us are not as close, we would surely say we are inextricably linked, because we all had Brett. And we all lost him, too.
Most of the world never met him, but for those of us who called him friend and brother, we were changed by knowing him. Let me tell the rest of you out there about Brett Lanier. He was a fantastic musician. He wrote piles of songs - the music and the words. His lyrics were sharp with wit and heart-pricking emotion. Upstairs in his parents house, in a carpeted office room over the garage, Brett sat for hours, folded in an origami shape as he bent over his guitar until it came out right. He loved listening to music with the same ferocity as he loved creating it. He drove a green - almost turquoise - pickup truck and when he arrived at his destination would sometimes stay in the cab, listening intently, until the song ended. He had conversations about music - picking it apart to see what made it work so well. He contemplated meanings of ambiguous lyrics and pondered construction of bridge and chorus.
There was a lot more than the music that made him special, of course. He was kind and thoughtful - a great ally. He'd pick you up if you needed a ride, and always shared what was his with you. He would meet you for coffee and teach you what he knew about writing lyrics, even if you were half crazed on caffeine and nearly living at the diner. What I mean is, and I'm sure you know this to be true - it's impossible to capture him in words. As my memories slip and slither and I try to grasp just what it was that made him him, I can't.
As the summer ripens and we are all covered with sweat, and nostalgia hangs thick in the air, our minds turn to Brett. It was in the summer that we spent the length of our days together - an unstoppable gang of misfits, dirty hippies, and wandering souls. Wherever we went, our tribe took the shape of the place - anyone could see that we belonged to one another. And so now, in the summer, when we memorialize his unfair and untimely death, we mourn for the part of us that is missing. Our friend, our brother in spirit, lives on inside our hearts. We carry his legacy with our stories of his life, and together we can remember him wholly. He will always be our Brett, the kid we miss the most.