You always worry about your kids—even when they are adults. I remember thinking to myself on the day I met Keegan’s new friend Brandon, “Keegan is going to be okay.” With a friend like Brandon—how could he not be? You always hope that your kids will find friends that are solid—ones that you know add to their lives and build them up. That was Brandon. He added to every life he touched.
Last week Keegan called and there was something different in his voice—later I realized it was painful loss. When Keegan told me Brandon had died the air literally felt like it was sucked out of the room. How could Brandon be gone when I could still imagine him at my dinner table just a few feet away? It seemed unreal. Still does.
Brandon was a gregarious genuine young man who literally made a home in my heart the first time I met him. I ran into Brandon randomly in Franklin more than I have bumped into any other person in this town. Every single time he was ready with his patent-pending wide-open hug that consumed me with pure joy. He wore a giant authentic smile and his eyes shined from a place deep inside of him. Each time I saw Brandon (affectionately known as B) the air around me seemed to lift as he responded to seeing me as if I was actually the best thing in the world to him right at that moment. An encounter, even if it was brief, with Brandon always lifted my spirits.
Brandon was in his element in the kitchen as a gifted young chef. He catered Keegan and Haleigh’s wedding from my home kitchen. I can still seem him hustling to get it all done with an artistic flair, a deep abiding love for food, and just the right flavors to make the celebration extra special for a pair he loved so deeply. His food spoke of that love. After the wedding reception I wandered in to tell B what a great job he did. He had worked long and hard—but was still full of loving energy left to give away. We talked guacamole because he had served the single best guacamole I had ever had at the wedding reception. He told me the secret was that he used key limes. I may never make guacamole without key lime again.
Brandon’s love for life, food, his people, laugher, and the person right in front of him in any given moment was contagious. May that love spread from each of us who had the honor of knowing Brandon out into the world around us. I pray we will all always carry a piece of the sparkle from his eyes in our own smiles and freely give away heartfelt hugs like Brandon did.