Douglas Brady was a kind friend that I knew for a very short time and will remember forever. He died on August 11th 2012. Thank you Douglas.
I met Douglas a year ago when my best friend and I were traveling across the country. I was searching for a new home now I see I was also searching for a new me. I was hoping that if I got far enough away from the old me she could disappear and the new me would be able to bounce into a life she was meant to be living.
Our list of stops included Boulder, Denver, LA, Portland and Seattle. We felt our freedom on the open road and this summer’s only mission was picking where we wanted to land. We arrived at Douglas’s house one hot afternoon in July. A mutual friend had connected us and Douglas agreed to put us up for two nights. Douglas was on his way to go swimming in a nearby creek so we followed him. As we rode up the canyons, my friend and I talked about travel and cities we had visited and loved. Douglas talked about the way a place can speak to you. He was speaking our language, and we were thrilled. At the creek I touched the water with my toes and it was colder than anything I’d ever touched so I opted out. Douglas, on the other hand, basked in the water–sat right down in that cold clear water, a smile lighting up his entire face.
After just our first meal with Douglas, I was changed. He spoke with such wisdom and seemed so comfortable in his own skin. I made a wish in my own heart that I could catch even the tiniest bit of what he had. I was unaware of how severe my chronic restlessness was at that time. My heart was longing to be anywhere besides where I was. Douglas sat with us at dinner and he asked my friend about her upbringing. She’d had heart surgery as a child, something I had never heard her talk about in detail. Douglas acknowledged her story and the pain that it must have caused. It became clear the story had been told many times but the pain part hadn’t ever been acknowledged, ever. He said this must have been traumatizing as a child. He told her it was possible to heal this and it would take work but she could do it, we all could. I listened to him, not seeing that I too could take the healing route that would in fact force me to change. I could talk the talk, but when it came to the walking part I was clueless.
These conversations with Douglas sparked more conversations between me and my friend as we continued back on the road together. We spoke about our childhoods and began to see that it’s not just the unlucky ones who have had this pain but we all have and as adults it has forced us to build walls, form habits, and have scars that we didn’t think anyone could see. Douglas helped us see deeper–and lovingly but with a truth that we couldn’t turn our backs on.
I continued to write to him as we traveled, letting him know where we were and what was calling us. We landed in Portland and began to set up our lives; it was challenging, and our friendship began to break down– until it didn’t seem repairable and we decided to let it go completely. I would write to Douglas about my challenges in relationship and how a part of me thought I was broken and I didn’t know how to be close to anyone. I’ll never forget the e-mail response from him–so simple and so clear: “These people are your teachers, Sam, that’s why they trigger you. You are here to learn.”
Life gives you gifts in all sizes and packages. Last summer meeting Douglas was the greatest gift two lost girls (with no idea they were lost) could have received. I am still a bit lost and maybe will always be in a sense–but souls like Douglas show me the right path, the one that gets me closer to finding my way again, closer and closer each day.