Today, I wept for Brian.
He took his own life in March, 2015, the same month of the same year Steve left us. I never met Brian, nor do I know his family. However, I have connected with his Mom Norma through social media as a fellow suicide survivor. Although Steve and Brian were from different parts of the country (Brian from rural Pacific Northwest, Steve from urban Long Island, NY) and Steve was about twice the age of Brian, I believe they were kindred spirits and had they known each other, they would have fast become good friends.
Last night, I was having a Facebook chat with Norma. She shared some stories and photos of Brian with me that truly touched my soul. Norma could have been talking about Steve.
One time, Brian had rescued an owl with a broken wing that some juveniles had thrown into a lake and they were trying to drown it. He jumped in to rescue the owl and took care of it that night until he could get it to a veterinarian to check it out. Then after the vet treated the broken wing, Brian took the owl to a nature preserve for rehabilitation. This reminded me of the time when Steve and I found a featherless baby bird near death on the ground. Steve gently placed the bird in a small box with some hay and climbed a telephone pole to put the box closer to the nest built in a transformer where it probably had fallen from.
Norma shared another sweet story about Brian with me. One time while driving, he could not avoid hitting a rabbit that darted in front of his car. Brian stopped the car and picked up the barely alive rabbit and held and comforted the poor bunny until it finally died. Then he made a little grave for it alongside the road and buried it there with a small cross he created.
Brian had several rescued pet rabbits, as did Steve and I. Per his Mom, Brian hated all the horrible things that happen to animals and people. He couldn’t understand how some people could be so cruel. Steve was much like that himself. Brian and Steve, two gentle souls, apparently, both were too gentle for this earth.
This planet was a far better place with Brian and Steve in it. To me, they were the epitome of strong men; not afraid to show their kindness, compassion or sensitivity. As it has been said, you can always judge the character of a man by how he treats the weaker among us. The actions of Brian and Steve speak volumes about the type of men they were.
The photos in this blog are worth a thousand words. Brian and Steve are holding the rabbits with such tenderness. If prey animals like rabbits can be so at ease in a human’s arms, it says a lot about the trust worthiness of those people. As a volunteer for a rabbit rescue organization, I know that rabbits do not give their trust lightly.
Brian and Steve represent the countless others among us who suffer silently. Their lives had so much value and in their own ways, they each made positive impacts on the lives of others. I tell their stories to inspire conversation about mental health with the hopes that there will be new, effective treatments developed and so that others may someday come forward without shame and seek help.
This world so desperately needs people like Brian and Steve more than ever. Their passing was such a great loss not just for their loved ones, but for humanity itself. Even though they are no longer with us, I believe the legacies of Brian and Steve will endure and in some way, help others; something it seems they both did so well in life.