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I lost a friend yesterday...



I met Brian at Toastmasters. From the very first meeting, I knew there was something different about him, it was almost jarring. The only way to describe it is that he saw me, long before I could see myself. He didn't waste any time calling me after the meeting and getting me signed up. He pushed me, I signed up for roles at every meeting, I wanted to grow in my public speaking skills and I didn't want to let him down. I also knew that if there was an open role at the start of the meeting and I hadn't already signed up for something, he was going to put me in that role. 🤣


Only a few months after joining the club, I joined his officer team as the VP of PR. At this time, Brian wanted our club to have our own logo, because our club is special it should have its own logo. Brian was meticulous about it, messaging me about colorways and spacing, I hadn't even known the word colorway before that!


It wasn't as clear to me then as it became once I had been at the club for a while, but he was right. This club is special and the reason it was special then and has remained so to this day is Brian. His warm smiles, incredible hugs, and his enthusiasm for what we were capable of together and individually was infectious. Brian talked a lot about success stories and we have many in our club. As President he would often use the business updates portion of the meeting to talk about how a certain member had grown, he would call out those who were landing public speaking gigs (whether paid or unpaid), he attended some of my reiki circles and encouraged members to check them out because "Kimberly is incredible and the sessions are so good." He was always so proud of us all.


Brian loved working on the skills that would make him a better performer as a speaker, so, in 2019, when I decided to try my hand at acting in a local play and found out there was an open role he would be a great fit for, I encouraged him to audition. Of course, he got the part. It was so exciting to have a friend there through the rehearsals. One of those nights I remember so clearly, as it was the night he told me he had received a cancer diagnosis. I was speechless, how could this be?


Through the pandemic, we moved our Toastmasters meetings onto Zoom to keep the club going. Brian absolutely hated it. It wasn't the same as speaking in person, it wasn't good enough. He was right but he also knew we needed to do that, to ensure once we were out of the pandemic we had a club to return to. I served as President of the club for the first time from 2021-2022 and though Brian did scale back the meetings he attended because of his health and because he really f'n hated Zoom, he didn't scale back on his interactions with me. He mentored me so I could give that role my all, even though I hadn't felt ready for it. We then proceeded to swap roles over the next 2 Toastmaster's years, no matter what he was dealing with, this club mattered to him and we talked as often as we could.


Just last week, our club celebrated our 15th anniversary and the room was full. As I stood up there, giving the business updates, looking at all of the people in the room, all of the success stories, I swelled with gratitude, we're all here, this specific group of people, because of Brian. Because of the energy, enthusiasm, and love he poured into this club, he attracted other people who wanted to do the same. So, even though many of the current members of the club never had the opportunity to meet Brian, they too are recipients of his magic.


Brian wasn't just my Toastmasters mentor, he was my friend. Brian gave the best hugs and he didn't shy away from sharing with you exactly how he felt, he often told his friends that he loved them or would offer words of praise when you least expected it. He led with love, always.


It is devastating to know that we'll never hear his voice again, never experience a big Brian bear hug, that his family must find a way to navigate this world without him, but I also know how incredibly lucky I am to have known Brian, to have been in his orbit for the years that I was.


I've written and re-written this blog all morning, I know that I'm missing things, I am certain that this blog could have been more powerful, that I could have better conveyed the gravity of what Brian meant to me and so many of us, but, as another friend and Toastmasters colleague told me the other day "we're trying to be perfect with something that simply doesn't make any sense."


I love you, Bri and I miss you so very much.

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20 Comments


Jeanine Byers
Jeanine Byers
Apr 12

I'm so sorry for your loss, Kimberly! But your story and your tribute is beautiful. I'm glad for you,that he was your friend.

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Thank you so much, Jeanine 🩷

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What a beautiful story about an amazing person.

We need more Brians in this world.

Thank you for sharing his story.

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Thank you so much. We definitely need more Brian’s in the world, I hope people who knew him and those who read this will find the Brian within themselves and lead with love.

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Guest
Apr 10

What a beautiful tribute to one who was clearly special to you. May his memory be a blessing. XO - Elisa

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Thank you, Elisa xo

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I am so sorry to read of your loss. Brian sounds like he is a wonderful person - IS, not was. He will always be in your heart and just a private conversation away. It is so hard to loose someone like him. My heart goes out to you.

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Thank you, Paul. He will definitely always be in my heart, absolutely. ❤️

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Kimberly...what a beautiful tribute to someone who was obviously one in a million. I'm so sorry for your loss. Hugs.

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Thank you, Karen, I am glad you were able to see that about him from this post. ❤️

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