For only knowing Brian almost exactly one year, I have pages and pages of memories and stories I could write. I was introduced to Brian and James P. by Eric (Brian's dad) the first time I ever went to the student center, but the first time I really met Brian was a few weeks later at my condo. Deborah Bone and I had an Ole Miss football party for the 1st game of 2006. I provided the location and she invited all the people since I really didn’t know anyone in Oxford yet. Brian came and entertained us. I knew Brian was going to be a great friend. I also remember that day that he made sure he didn’t eat more of the party food than James P (they were both in training for bike races). I didn’t know of their competitive relationship until later but Brian really liked these cinnamon things that Lisa Beard made and ate almost the whole pan of them (it was really small). He just kept telling us…”Don’t let James know how many of these I have eaten.” Knowing what I know now about their relationship, this story is even funnier.
One of my favorite Brian memories is of Halloween 2006. It is a Williams family tradition to make a big pot of soup on Halloween and have friends over to eat it. So when I got to Oxford, the tradition continued. We told Brian that it was going to be a costume party…but really we hadn’t decided on whether or not it would be. Most of the guests came in their regular clothes from work or school and very few dressed up. Brian dressed up. He showed up at the door in full Russian Army regalia, stern face and all. It was awesome…everyone in the whole room thought it was hilarious. The funniest part about the whole outfit is that his shoes had started to dry rot, due to their age, and ended up crumbling all over my living room floor. The next little bit of the party was spent watching Brian crawl around the floor picking up pieces of his shoes.
I have many more memories of Brian – most of them are snippets of conversations or moments at the Dahl’s house with Deborah. I loved that Brian and I had a running argument over who was taller…we measured at least twice. Technically I think Brian was a little taller (even though I never admitted it) BUT I had the advantage of heels AND effectively manipulating my place in pictures to make sure I looked taller!
I loved playing tricks on Brian. Deborah and I loved changing his Facebook profile picture often to some of Brian’s “favorite people” – Jeff Probst and Patrick Dempsey! We even created a group from Brian’s profile and named it “I wish I was Patrick Dempsey so women would call me McDreamy.” He always returned the favor. At one point, pictures were posted of both Deborah and me complete with mustaches, devil horns and a spikey tails.
The best Brian memory I have is his SURPRISE graduation party! Eric, Melanie (Brian's mom), Deborah, and I schemed and planned a wonderful party for Brian’s graduation. Deborah and I invited Brian to a night at P.F. Changs, one of his favorite restaurants in Memphis. We made up some crazy story about not wanting to go to Memphis by ourselves and after hearing it was one of Brian’s favorites, we decided he should be the one to protect us and accompany us on our dinner. The funny thing about that is that I’m allergic to Chinese food and can’t really enjoy P.F.Changs if I do go but Brian didn’t know that. He took our bait, hook, line and sinker. It was too easy to get him to agree to go. Eric and Melanie even jumped in and asked if they could go…and Deborah and I made up some excuse about the three kids needing some time by ourselves, etc. My favorite Brian line of all times was said that night after we left. He told Eric, “Dad, when two pretty girls invite me to go to dinner, feel free not to invite yourself.” I thought that was so funny!
I had the most fun planning the party! The Student Center “eating room” was packed full of people, and I met a lot of Brian’s really close friends. After everything was ready, I had the task of picking Brian up. When I got there, by myself, I told him Deborah was in a meeting that was running late and we needed to go by and pick her up at the SC. Supposedly, this was the first time Brian was suspicious…To me, it’s a pretty successful surprise party when the person doesn’t get suspicious until on the way! When we got to the SC, Brian got a glimpse of his parents’ car and at that point, I wasn’t sure I was going to get him in the building. By this time, Brian knew something was up and was obviously not too excited about being a part of it. Luckily, he was a good sport and walked through the doors surprised to find a room packed full of people who loved him and were so proud of him. I’m so glad he knew how many people he had touched before he passed. By the end of the night, he seemed to have forgiven us for all the lies and deceit.
But....Brian had another trick up his sleeves. He was in charge of the devotional at small group on Sunday night and had brilliantly woven in a trick on me. In a devotional centered on how to deal with anger, Brian requested that I read Revelation 21:8. As a good little Christian girl, I recognized the verse…but not as a verse on anger. I questioned Brian and he said, “It’s the right one, I’m looking at it right here.” I started reading… “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, …” It wasn’t until I got to the part saying “liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur” that I realized it was all a trick on me because I had lied to him about going to P.F. Changs. I had been gotten and it was sweet for Brian!
There were many things I loved about Brian, my brother and my friend. He cared for others. I loved that Brian loved my family. He loved seeing Liam being introduced to Nelson (the cat) as Liam almost took off flying since he was flapping his arms so hard. When he heard Liam was coming to town, he always asked if he needed to get Nelson ready for another Liam visit. He loved my dad. If he told me once, he told me 1,000 times how much he really liked my dad and thought he was so funny. When my dad had his heart attack and surgery, it meant to so much to me that Brian was always checking in and even came to the hospital in Nashville bringing woodcarving magazines and some of his favorite Far Side cartoons. When my cousin, Erin, had her accident, Brian regularly wanted to know how she was doing and was concerned about her family after she lost her battle to the infections that plagued her body. More than once he sent me facebook messages asking about how they were doing. He joined us in volunteering for Habitat for Humanity and worked several hours this summer. He was also quick to take his lunch break while at Habitat to work on Shannon Baker’s car after the gate of my condo complex “attacked it” on the way to the build that morning.
My year of knowing and loving Brian was truly a gift from God. I will miss the laughs, smart comments, and occasional sweet comments from him. I will miss the man Brian was and will look forward to see him in heavenly glory for eternity.