My name is Adrienne Embrey, I am Brandon Embrey (Brian's life long friend)'s wife. I met Brian 15 years ago when he had just graduated high school. Brandon wanted me to meet his best friend who was about to join us in Columbus, GA for college, and we went swimming at Brian's neighborhood pool with he and his little sister Erica.
I remember thinking that Brian seemed shy, and Erica was quite the opposite, but that I liked them both very much. Brandon and I were just dating at the time, so little did I know then that I was meeting a guy who would also become a long time friend.
A few months after I first met him, Brian came to Columbus University, and moved into our college dorms. He was this baby-faced, chubby kid. He ended up living in the athletic dorm, and started working out with his athlete roommates (pumping iron and the like,) and he got buff. The first time my Mom and sister got a look at him, they wanted to know “who's the beefcake?”. He was quite easy on the eyes.
When Brandon and I got married in '99, naturally Brian was a groomsman, and there was quite a bit of discussion amongst my bridesmaids about who got to walk down the aisle with Brian, because he looked awfully good in a tux.
When college didn't agree with Brian, he left us old married folks back in Columbus, and he moved what felt like half way across the world to Marietta…by himself, no less. I couldn't believe that he was so brave to move by himself, but he was young and fearless.
We would come to Marietta visit from Columbus every once in a while, and it wasn't long before life brought Brandon and me to Atlanta as well. We were all together again, and spent most evenings hanging out at one of our places, playing video games, or cards, watching football, or just running our mouths. It was fun having Brian and Brandon so close to each other again.
Brian was working at a heating and air parts place when we moved up to Atlanta, and it just so happened that I needed a job at the time, and his job place needed an office girl, so Brian hooked me up with his boss and got me a job a C. C. Dickson Co. I was having car trouble at the time, and besides helping me get the job, he picked me up and drove me home from that job for several weeks until I could get my car fixed. We worked together and rode together every weekday for about 3 months before he left Dickson to be an A/C mechanic, but it was the during that time that he and I got to know each other outside of he and Brandon's friendship, and to this day we would still talk shop about things that would bore the average bear, but that interested we A/C nerds, and I thoroughly enjoyed those talks. In fact, it turns out that his getting me that office job would turn into a career for me, and 11 years later, I have rose through the ranks in that same company to have my own store, and had it not been for Brian, I have no idea what I would be doing right now.
Brian worked hard as a mechanic and technician, and spent his off-time hanging out and eating out at restaurants in Marietta, and making friends that Brandon and I would meet through Brian. Then one day, Brian said he had met this girl named Marissa at a bar in Marietta, and that he really liked her. “Great,” I thought, “must be a keeper…met her in a bar.” Brian's taste in girls before meeting Marissa had been questionable, to say the least, so I was skeptical that I was going to be meeting my counterpart to even out this boy dominated friendship. But boy was I wrong.
The minute I met Marissa, I told Brian that he better not screw this one up. She was smart, funny, sweet, and good to him, so he had found a keeper.
We hung out as a foursome, and it was awesome. You could tell how much Brian cared for Marissa, and she for him when they were together.
We all took a camping trip to Tennessee, and went white-water rafting, and had a blast. Though, if I could do it all again, I would insist on a professional rafting guide instead of the “great outdoorsman, Brian,” who insisted that he could handle it. I saw my life flash before my eyes about a dozen times as the four of us paddled down that very cold river, rescuing Brandon and Brian multiple times from the boulder filled water after they had catapulted out of that raft. But it was a trip that I will never forget.
When Brian decided to make an honest woman of Marissa, I was thrilled. He was so happy, and more content and grounded than in all the years that I had known him. He had met his lifelong partner, and didn't scare her away, somehow.
When I found out that Marissa and Brian were going to have a baby, I got so excited for them, (and for Brandon and me) that we would have kids so close in age. Turns out we would have kids VERY close in age. Though Brandon and I had a daughter who would only be a year older than Brian's kid, we didn't know at the time that we would also be adding another to our brood just 4 months after Brian's baby would be born. Making it 3 little ones to play together for all times. It was perfect timing.
Julia Elizabeth Ray came along, and though I thought I had seen Brian at his happiest before her, I was so very wrong. Julia changed Brian forever. Every time I saw him with her, it was just the sweetest thing you could ever imagine. There is just something about seeing that big ol' guy with this tiny little girl that just melts your heart. He was so good and sweet and patient with her from the beginning, and that never changed as she got older. He loved Julia so much, and it was apparent in everything he did with her.
When Brian and Brandon were about to turn 30 and 31 (their birthdays are only a day apart) we all took a trip to the North Georgia Mountains for their birthdays/ family vacation. All seven of us, (nine if you count the dogs) the Rays and the Embreys. Marissa and I got to chase three little rascals around the cabin while Brandon and Brian went fishing, and it was such a good time. Brian was certainly in his element in the woods, and helped out as my daughter Hannah fished for the first time. In fact, I think she was the only one who caught anything that day, but the trying was so much fun, that it didn't matter.
Time flew on, and even though we all worked and had our own little families, we always made sure to get together for our kids' birthdays and Christmas, and each time was so special. To see Brandon and Brian's offspring be fast friends like they were was a lot of fun to watch.
When Brian was diagnosed with colon cancer, we were scared of losing him then; and as scared as he was, he knew that he had bigger fish to fry, that Marissa and Julia needed him to get past that hurdle, and he treated it as just that, a hurdle. Although it was rough on him physically to go through that ordeal, he came out of it with a better appreciation of what a blessing every moment he had on this earth was.
It is such a sad thing to have lost Brian now, after all that he went through with his cancer, and the loss that he had with the passing of Steve, his father. But I truly believe that, because of Marissa and Julia, and Brian's family and friends, Brian got to experience more love in his brief life than many ever get to know in an entire lifetime.
I will miss him, but I will never forget him and the friend that he was to me and my family. He got to be a son, a brother, a husband, Daddy, Uncle Brian, and dear friend to us all, and that is something to be celebrated, because all we have in this world is what we mean to each other, and Brian meant a great deal to us all.
Marissa, we love you and Julia. You are truly the best things that ever could have happened to Brian, and though he is not here on earth, I am certain that he is watching over you two from above, and his love will touch you every day until you are reunited in Heaven. And though it seems impossible right now, I know that God will grant you the strength to carry on without him, and know that we are here for you every step of the way.