Thursday, April 29, 2010

Goodbye, #22

Last night my old friend Larry from high school left me a message to call him. Larry's wife is sick and due to have a kidney transplant, so I was worried he might have bad news.

He had bad news, but it wasn't about Tammy. It was about Brian Drugge (pronounced "druggy").

Turns out, Brian Drugge died of colon cancer this week. He was 39.

Brian was this really quiet, really amazing athlete who went to our high school. He was short, like 5'5", and was thick and swift-footed and easy-going. He started on varsity teams for baseball and football - and he always wore the number 22.

He had this noticeable sweet adoration from his teammates, and I don't think I ever heard a bad word about him. From anyone.

It was so hard to hear that Larry, perhaps like a lot of Brian's old buddies, was so sad that he didn't even know Brian was suffering. "Why didn't I know?" Larry asks during our phone call. "Why didn't he tell any of us, so we could..." Larry couldn't finish.

"So you could show him you cared?" I venture.

Larry's quiet. "Yeah..."

The other thing that makes me sad is knowing how colon cancer ravages the body. Brian's death reminds me of my dad's 52-year-old bird frame, all elbows and knuckles and teeth, after colon cancer ravaged his 6'3" body.

Brian was so compact and broad and muscular. I picture him reduced to that smallness and stillness and think it's just so contrary to what most of us ever knew him to be. I can't shake that image from my head.

He's survived by parents, siblings, a wife, 3 daughters. That's heartbreaking, too.

Rest in Peace, Brian Drugge. Even those of us far away still think of you fondly.

Friends, if you have anything to add, please share. (Karen?)


Jennie Englund said...

this was sad, anj. thanks for sharing your heart and your story.

KUrlie said...

I remember Brian's sweet and quiet demeanor all through school, which always seemed a bit contradictory to his fierce athleticism - and those pretty, smiley blue eyes. I'm really sad for his family - he was too young and it's such a tragic loss for them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anjie, for your thoughtful memories of #22. Would loved to have met him.
His family would appreciate a copy of this blog to perhaps share it at his memorial. Will your Mom be going?
God bless and comfort Brian's family who will sorely miss him.

Mick said...

Thanks, Jan. Naw, I won't send them a copy of this - it includes too much of my own experience, probably drawing away from their own grieving. Instead, I wrote a sympathy note on Brian's obituary page, telling them how much I loved watching Brian play sports through high school in his powerful, confident way. My mom won't be going to his service; she didn't know him at all.

Anonymous said...

Life is so tender; so fragile, so very precious.
The obituary was poignant. I am so sad for his family.

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