I had the chance to read some of Brent’s writings late last week. I’ve since gone over them several more times. In a spiral-bound stenographer’s notebook, Brent left behind a collection of his poems, dreams, feelings, goals, and more. The entries were from November of 1990 – November of 1993. 58 pages in all. We writers often talk about “bleeding on the page”. Well, Brent’s journal is an abattoir of emotion.
I’m not going to lie. Some of it was brutal. That period of time was a rough patch for a lot of us. Our group was fracturing. We were growing up and we were afraid, and sometimes we lashed out and did foolish things. Through all the mistakes made by everyone involved, we never stopped loving each other. We never stopped caring. What was broken, was mended.
There was a lot of pain in that notebook, but a lot of soul-searching too. And there was a mountain of hope and joy and love.
Say what you want, but Brent had a big heart and he wasn’t afraid to let you into it.
There are several snippets that stand out. One in particular, from December of ’90, he wrote, “I awoke early, showered, and went to see Bob. More and more, I find that our conversations are both beneficial and stimulating.”
For me, that was the truth of our friendship. We talked for hours about spiritual matters, about the world around us, about our place in it, and about the world unseen, and how it shaped us as well.
I am reminded of a song we used to dig back then, Concrete Blonde’s Little Conversations.
Our conversations were always larger than life and they would swell up and consume us and the rest of the world would just fall away. In a room full of people, with a keg flowing and music blaring, Brent and I would find ourselves dissecting everything from quantum physics to thaumaturgy, oblivious to those around us except for those brave few willing to join in on our shamanistic sabredance.
I would not be the man I am today if not for him. He helped me grow and become a better human being. We tested the bonds of friendship, and though there was a short period where we grew apart, we never really were. Apart, I mean.
That patch where we saw each other infrequently, a span of about seven or eight years or so, was hard on both of us.
I was in a bad relationship, was moving every few months, working construction by day and working the bars at night. It felt like I was lost, but it was more like I was transitioning, evolving.
By the time Brent and I started hanging out again, I had grown up. I had made peace with our past, had internalized all those conversations and refined them into a worldview that has carried me forward.
I watched Brent begin doing the same. The old conversations were dusted off and we unraveled the mysteries of the universe once more. We were leaning on each other again. And I can’t help but believe, in my heart of hearts, that we’re still leaning on each other… His memory still shapes me and I am a better man for having had him in my life.
I have been truly blessed. I really have. I have a terrific marriage, a perfect kid, and I am honored to be surrounded by some of the best friends a guy could ever hope for. And for as long as I live, Brent will continue to be a part of that because he is a part of me.
I thank the gods every day for the time we spent together.