Almost as far back as I can remember, I was friends with Bryan Glover. We met when my family moved to a new church when I was 7-years-old. We were the same age (he was actually two months older than me) but I was ahead of him in school because I started kindergarten early. We were in the same class when I was in fourth grade because it was a mixed class, half fourth grade and half third grade (weird, I know, but it was a rural school). We didn’t attend the same school after that year so I remember him more from church than anywhere else.
My fondest memories? He always wanted to “go out” even in fourth grade when we couldn’t really go anywhere. I can’t remember if I ever said yes but he asked many, many times all the way into our teenage years. He always tried to kiss me, always tried to hold my hand. He may have been successful at least once. I remember he had big hands. He wore cowboy boots and talked country. He listened to country music and, when he was old enough to drive, he drove a pickup truck. He sometimes wore a cowboy hat — very into Garth Brooks.
I left that church when we were 15 and lost touch. I often thought about him when driving those country roads where we grew up and would even look for his truck to pass me when I drove on the two-lane road where he lived. The last time I saw him was at an outdoor concert, at the country stage, of course. I don’t remember who was playing but it was a slow country song and he, without asking, started to dance with me. I was with a date and the impromptu slow dance with my childhood friend didn’t sit well with my date. Bryan managed a soft kiss on my cheek before my date whisked me away.
That was the last time I saw him alive. He died three years ago today, just after his 25th birthday. He had cancer that progressed too quickly for doctors to cure. He was a staff sergeant in the Air Force and was living in Kansas with his wife of less than one year.
I went to the visitation where I saw his mom, brothers and cousins who I hadn’t seen in years. A collage of pictures brought back memories, as there were some from our childhood, and filled in the gaps of what he’d been doing in the 10 years since we parted ways. I remember thinking how sad for someone so young and so good to die of cancer. It really shook me up about my own mortality.
I think about him every now and then, and I think about him every year on November 2.