Happy Birthday, Bob

25 Mar

Tomorrow will be the first March 26 in many years that I will not be calling my closest friend to say, in a terrible Carol Channing impersonation, “Happy Birthday, Bob.” His name was not Bob, it was Brett, and tomorrow he would have been 43.  He died in a car accident this past October and I have thought about him every day. Not all day every day, but every day something has reminded me of him.

The story of why we would say “Happy Birthday, Bob” to each other, like so many of the things we would say to each other, started long ago. For some unknown reason, Brettcarolchanning was watching a birthday salute to Bob Hope. Carol Channing, with her Kewpie doll face and perfectly coiffed hair, wished Bob a happy birthday in that unmistakable voice of hers.  For some reason, Brett relayed the story to me and we latched on to it and for the next 20 some odd years or so we would say it to each other. I would say it to people who had no idea what I was talking about.  My sister, who was also close with Brett, would say it too.   We both still do.

There are SO many stories and things we would say. We would just have to look at each other and say the word “escargot” and know what the other was referring to. It is cliché, but it truly feels like a part of me is gone.

We met in high school when he asked me if I would help him hang his campaign posters, to be elected class President. I was the new girl in school and up until the time he spoke to me, nobody had really paid me any attention. Brett lost that campaign, but he gained a friend for life. We shared a love of Gone With the Wind, Grease, The Lost Boys. We weathered high school storms together. We got into spats.  We would make up.  We went to the beach. We had parties. I cannot imagine what my high school experience, actually my life, would have been like without Brett.

Brett was hilarious and one of the smartest people I have ever known.  We had several classes together and we would sit next to each other. I always got into trouble for laughing at something he had whispered to me.  He never got into trouble. I remember studying with him and he would barely open the book and he would pass with an A  and I would eek out a C.

statlerandwaldorfWe were the perfect modern-day comedy duo. He used to say we were Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets. Two crotchety cynical old farts who ripped on everybody else. Never mean-spirited, but that was our shtick.

After high school I got breast reduction surgery. My boobs, that were the source of much teasing and jokes, by everybody, would finally be smaller. I didn’t tell anybody, but Brett knew and he brought me flowers with a card that said something about there being LESS of me to love.

We went to Europe together and got into the biggest fight in the history of our friendship. We were back a few weeks when he sent me a letter apologizing and I apologized to him and that was that. We didn’t hold grudges. When I was acting like a brat (and I was often) he would call me on it but he never made me feel like I WAS a brat.

We grew up together and through all the worries and stress that comes along with becoming adults, we still laughed about all of the old stuff.  He was there when I was in the deepest darkest hole I had ever been in and I was crying to him about the horror story my life had become and he just looked at me and said “but you’re Amy. You’re awesome” and somehow hearing  that from him helped. It helped a lot.

Brett was the most physically striking person I have ever seen and I would forget that until someone who had never met him would comment on how amazingly handsome brettdrivinghe was. Black hair, green eyes, very tall. We lived in Orlando together for a summer and I told him to go work at Disney as a Prince. He could have but he had wanderlust that could not be quelled by Disney World.

Brett graduated with honors from high school. He went on to the University of Florida and then UF Law School. He passed the bar but did not practice law because it was not where his heart was.  Brett worked in green construction and was passionate about travel. I was so jealous of his freedom. He was fearless in my eyes.

There are so many other memories that I wrap myself in and so many things I wish I could do over. If I had known that the last time he was in Florida would be my last opportunity to see him I would have figured out a way to see him. I know Brett knew I loved him. And I know he loved me. I just want more of him. More time.

Nothing I write will ever be able to do him, or our friendship, justice. He was an amazingly special person.  Tomorrow, at the suggestion of his sister, in honor of Brett, several of us all over the world will be planting a tree, or in some cases, a tree will be bought in his name.  I think it is a lovely way to remember someone who, to borrow from Steel Magnolias, will always be beautiful.


20 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Bob”

  1. donofalltrades March 26, 2013 at 12:10 am #

    Brett sounds like a really cool dude! You were lucky to have found each other.

    • Amy March 27, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

      We were lucky and he really was a cool dude. The kind of guy that the men wanted to be and the women wanted to be with. He gave so much to so many. I am grateful that I had him in my life for almost 30 years.

  2. Lucky Wreck March 26, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    He does sound like a super cool dude! He was lucky to have you, too. What a beautiful post…in so many ways.

    • Amy March 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      He was awesome! I am glad I was able to convey that. We were lucky to have each other. Thank you for reading.

  3. bensbitterblog March 26, 2013 at 2:38 am #

    After reading this post, you made me miss Brett “or Bob”. Thank goodness for memories.

    • Amy March 27, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      He was one of a kind Ben. I am glad I conveyed, at least a little, how special he was. YES, thank goodness for memories.So much of him lives on through his friends, family, and we are all better people for having known him.

  4. Toni March 26, 2013 at 4:28 am #

    I have been in denial about Brett’s death because it is one of those that hit way too close to home and has simply been too hard to process. It has been a painful, smack-in-the-face reminder that every day on this earth is a gift.

    I imagine those that never met him thinking you must be exaggerating in your description of him. Well, you’re not. Not one bit. I have never met a guy who had so much to be cocky about, yet seemed to have NO ego, someone who was as masculine as they come, yet who couldn’t be more kind or gentle, someone who was as funny as he was smart, as childlike as he was intense, remarkably comfortable to be around and, yes, someone who was so strikingly handsome that if he wasn’t your “lost twin” and best friend/soul mate (making him instant family to me) I would have likely made it my life’s work to try and convince him that I was worthy of his heart..lol…and incidentally have wondered how many hearts he did, in fact, break without even knowing it. (I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him in more recent years, but wonder if he was at all aware of how loved he was…how deserving he was of it…….)

    As I read your piece tonight, I cried. The way you described him, it feels like yesterday that I was on my way to visit you and Missy for some adventurous evening or weekend, knowing that we’d be making memories worthy of great storytelling and belly laughs, and that Brett would be a part of them. I can’t believe he’s gone.

    But…..it is you, Amy, that my heart that breaks for tonight, as friendships like that sometimes don’t come around in a lifetime, and I know he cannot be replaced.

    The ground is still too cold for planting, as it is still covered in ice and snow, but tomorrow we will name our favorite tree in our new home (a young cherry blossom that was planted when we first moved in) “Bob,” in Brett’s memory. And every year when Bob blooms we will watch an episode (or several) of Kids in the Hall, then turn on some Bob Marley while making a toast with some kind of delicious shot, and tell him he looks very, very pretty tonight.

    I love you, Amy. My heart hurts for you and his whole family. I miss him, too.

    • Amy March 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

      Toni, this is so beautiful. I read it when you wrote it and was so touched.

      He was absolutely one of a kind and I miss him and will miss him every day.

      Thank you for this Toni. I love you. Brett loved you too.

      • Miss Molly March 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

        I love Toni’s idea – we should all have a “Bob” in our lives – a tree, a chair, a place, something that gives us great comfort and hope and makes us laugh.

  5. datinginvegas March 26, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    Your post brought tear to my eyes..more than a few. I lost someone very very close to me last year. You are keeping your friend alive through the memories. That’s the most beautiful way to honor him, Thank you for sharing….

    • Amy March 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

      Thank you and I’m sorry for your loss. Brett will definitely live on through all of those who loved him, and there were a LOT, all over the world. Thank you for reading. HUGS.

  6. MommyVerbs March 26, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    This tribute…your friendship…your memories… will also… always be beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    • Amy March 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

      Thank you for reading. I feel like I could write for days and not be able to fully articulate the amazing person he was.

  7. Miss Molly March 27, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Amy, this is so beautifully written. I had a friend like Bob who died unexpectedly a few years ago from an aneurysm. I still reach for the phone to call him when something funny happens or when I need to talk to him. We always made each other laugh. We met in college and had a lot of wonderful experiences, best friends forever.

    I believe our dear friends know us better than anyone else, they carry our history, the history our family including our parents and kids really never know.

    My consolation always is the line from E.E. Cummings, “I carry your heart in my heart.”

    Thanks so much for writing what you did about Brett. I can just imagine you calling him in your Carol Channing voice. I’ll bet you do it perfectly…

    Con amore,

  8. continue reading April 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

    Great article.

    • Amy April 23, 2013 at 12:48 am #

      Thank you. Thanks for reading 🙂

  9. Hillary Goose Adam October 11, 2013 at 1:06 am #

    amy, my heart breaks for you. i knew brett for a few years here in portland and i can see him in your stories, alive, vibrant, and full of humor. toni also captured him perfectly. he was one of the most genuine people i believe i will ever know. his light is missed, immensely.

    • Amy October 15, 2013 at 11:07 am #

      Thank you Hillary. I remember hearing your name from Brett as well.

      I miss him every day.

      Thanks for taking the time to reply. Take care.

  10. Amy February 13, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    Thank you Molly! Brett will be in the front row for sure. He told me to get into stand up years ago. FINALLY doing it! ❤ you!!!!


  1. Who’s Funny? I AM, DAMMIT | Memoirs of a Mom Who Ticks - February 12, 2014

    […] felt like I might have found a really good friend who would be around forever. He reminded me of my Brett.  We clicked instantly and had the same sense of humor.  We talked a lot over the next few days […]

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