But my history with Brett extends back much further than shows at Mulligan's Irish House - more than 20 years, in fact. Brett and his brother, Dan, were my camp counselors when I attended YWCA Camp Cedarcliff - a small summer day camp that I always went to because my mom worked at the YWCA, and at which I ended up as a counselor myself for my first job. Every two weeks or so at camp there was an event called "Parent Sharing," where the families of campers would come and the different groups of kids would perform skits or songs, sometimes based on a theme. One time, under Brett's direction, my group performed an infamously bad rendition of Rod Stewart's "Forever Young," which has become the stuff of legend and inspired me learning the song for him. It was always performed tongue-in-cheek.
When I was younger, my family and Brett's family were both mutually close with my brother-in-law's family, so he would always be around. Summer parties, holiday meals, New Years celebrations, and late-night movie screenings thanks to my brother-in-law's movie theater connections (I still can't believe that he didn't like Galaxy Quest, by the way - I mean seriously), and even though he was a decade older than me and had been my camp counselor, as time went on and I got older he became much more of a peer and a friend than a "grown up." Maybe that was because I was growing up, or that he had such an irreverent sense-of-humor, or an affable personality, or his closeness to my brother-in-law, or a combination of all of it. Brett was a "brother from another mother" to my brother-in-law, so just like my brother-in-law's actual brother he because a part of my extended family. When my sister got married in Vermont in 2006, Brett and I shared a room at the inn. A couple years ago when he directed a sanitized, age-appropriate version of the play Election at the middle school where he worked, I was there to support him the way that he had always been there to support me at Mulligan's.
We got word yesterday that Brett suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, and it's shocking for everyone who knew him - friends, family, and friends who were family. It's surreal, to be sure, and being so far away from home all I can really do is share a few memories of my friend. And maybe have a diet Pepsi in his name. As my brother-in-law writes, "A whole freakin candelabra has gone out and it's going to take a long time for our eyes to adjust to the darkness."
In an mmmbop...