Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From Stacy Gladstone

I'm one of Brian's friends from college and Champlain Shakespeare Festival days. I have so many memories of Brian, but two specific ones make me smile whenever I think of them. The first was the summer of 1979. We were doing Measure for Measure. He was Claudio and I was Juliet. Our director had chosen what she called "Gothic Futurism" as the concept for the piece. Those characters who were the greatest sinners were slathered in gold makeup. Brian and I were doused in it. The prop baby I was given at the end was a block of wood covered by silver metallic cloth. I was miserable and Brian knew it. During strike, as a gift to me, he hung this prop in effigy.

The following summer we did A Midsummer Night's Dream. Brian was Lysander and I was Hermia. The final night of performance the actor playing Bottom decided to do a bit of ad-libbing. Toward the end of the play, when we were asleep in the forest, our Bottom said "The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, the feet of man hath not smelled...nay feet do smell a little..." and I began to vibrate with silent laughter. My movement threatened the verisimilitude of the scene so Brian tightened his grip on me and, through clenched teeth, as quietly but as intensely as he could, whispered "Stop It, Stop it!", until he just gave in and silently began to laugh with me.

From Dr. Cori Torres

I was struggling with the business end of running my office- well trained as a doctor, no training as a business owner. Brian offered to come in and have a look around to see if he could make some practical suggestions for me.
He took a critical look and pointed out all the things I could be doing better; things I had never noticed or thought of. It was a bit painful to be faced with that reality but I was grateful. He then asked to take a look at my patient scheduling software. I showed it to him, explaining the problems I was having using it. He brought the program up on the computer and starting messing around with it. After a couple of minutes he said, "Oops." I said, "Oops what?" He said, "Oops, I believe I've deleted all the data in this program. Sorry about that." I was never able to use that program again, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise- it was an awful program and I got a much better one with Brian's help.

Several years later my son was in the hospital having major surgery and he ended up needing an emergency tracheotomy. I was devastated and my son was struggling to handle not being able to talk. Brian had a trach not too long before this and he and I had talked about that experience. I knew how well he handled all of the invasive medical procedures he had experienced. I called him from the hospital to ask for his help with my son, and he and Diane immediately showed up at the hospital. Having them there gave me more comfort than I ever had a chance to express.

The day after he passed away I was in my office working when I got a phone call informing me of his passing. I had patients in the office but needed to take a few minutes to compose myself and went an empty room and closed the door. When I came out, I went to my patient appointment book to re-orient myself. Something toward the bottom of the page caught my eye and I did a double-take. There at the bottom of the page was the name "Brian Nelson". I stood frozen where I stood. Brian had been a patient in my office, but not for quite some time. I looked again and saw there was a patient named Brian and a patient named Nelson coming in one after the other that day. I truly believed in that moment that it was Brian's way of saying "hi" and giving me a laugh. I somehow felt in that moment that he was okay and I should not be sad.

It is hard not to be sad, just because there is now a significant presence missing from this world. Knowing Brian was a privilege. And Brian, I'm sure you're reading this, so I just want to thank you for everything- thank you for letting me know you in whatever small way I did.

Monday, December 21, 2009

From Heather Reardon

I will always remember the first time I saw Brian. We were walking to Special Olympics basketball practice, and he was by Diane's side wearing a hat. He looked as if he was from a classic era.

It was so nice to watch their relationship evolve. He was witty, intelligent and charming. They were a perfect match.

Heather Reardon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

From Liz McGlinchey King

I was college buddies with Brian, we were in the Champlain Shakespeare Festival together for a few summers, and we were friends in New York in the early 80's. My husband, Ron King, and I have many happy memories of our friendship with Brian, but two stand out very clearly for me. One was when we performed Cabaret as a college production in 1979. I was the piano player and terrified because I was used to being behind the scenes, but in Cabaret the musicians are characters in the show. Each night Brian escorted me to the piano, staying in his character. When I put my arm in his, he sensed my nervousness. He'd tell me it's going to be OK, you're going to be great. Another memory I have thought about hundreds of times in the past 30 years was something he said after my brother died during our college years. When I returned to college after the funeral I told Brian that everyone seemed to be going about their lives as if this awful thing hadn't just happened to me. He said, "Liz, people with laugh with you a hundred times, but they will only cry with you once." It was his way of saying that when we are faced with adversity we have to go on, we have no choice in the matter. What he said gave me strength at a time that I really needed it. He was dearly loved. Liz McGlinchey King

From Julie Rossi

Brian and I were classmates in the Columbia MFA program in Theatre Management and Producing. Most students (myself included) spent much of our time there sucking up to our professors, making sure that we made a good impression so that we would be considered for potential job openings upon graduation. But not Brian - Brian always spoke his mind. He was so comfortable in his own skin that he would frequently challenge our professors, many of whom were and still are the titans of the theatre industry in NYC. He never shied away from engaging in a verbal volley with a classmate or professor with whom he disagreed. But he did so with intelligence, grace and wit and as such, frequently won us all over to his side. He contributed greatly to our class dynamic, and can't imagine what things would have been like had he not been our classmate.

From Jay Russel

So many lovely memories of Brian...where to begin?
His smile and his incredible, indefatigable humor even at adversities that would have wiped the humor out of many a man.
Seeing his company perform the Coarse Acting show, having you and he and your folks at Irish Rep last year at Around the World in 80 Days, him schlepping out to god knows where Williamsburg to see me in a ten minute play on a night that no one laughed at anything and he still was so gracious. The joy on his face on your wedding day. And his remarkable and infuriating online scrabble playing. I could never touch him but we kept playing. We were mid game when he passed.
He is missed so very much.
Much love
Jay Russell

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From Diane

Thank you, all of you,

Who read this blog, who held Brian up with your words and wishes. I will be collecting stories and other words about Brian to post - I have a few in the box already. Many miss him, and none more than I. I can only hope to live into all that he taught me. And it is a great day.