Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Friend Bruce . . .

When I arrived at the mighty-mighty-'piac in the fall of 1994, there was a kid who lived down the hall that perplexed me more than a little bit. He was super in to sports. He was super intense about his study habits. He was in to the ladies. He was super funny. He was super quiet. He was super different than all the other kids in our hall.

As with most people, my best friends in college just HAPPENED to be the people that lived on my floor Freshman year (either residential life people ARE experts at matching personalities OR we are, as a society, super lazy about finding people who we enjoy). Bruce was not initially someone that I thought I would be fast friends with but, life is a funny journey.

Bruce, Tom, Chris, Pezzullo and I got to be friends during our Freshman year. When it came time to decide roommates for our Sophomore year, we got locked out of the Sophomore dorms and had to go back to "doubles" in the Freshman dorm. I was placed with Bruce as a roommate and, frankly, it was one of those things that truly impacted and changed my life.

Bruce, for all of his ticks and pops, has the biggest heart of any one I've ever met. He was the first peer I've ever had who had the courage to look me in the eye and ask me what the hell was going on with my weight. He didn't just talk the talk though . . . he walked the walk, literally. Bruce took me on as a project. We went to the gym together five or six days a week. We went for walks together. He eyeballed my meals in the cafe for me. He bought me a walkman for Christmas. He encouraged me and motivated me to work out and to eat better and - much to his credit - it worked. I lost a TON of weight my Sophomore year of college.

I let myself go my Junior year though (I started drinking as a junior in college - I let MOST things go once booze entered my life (wa-wa-wa-waaaaaaaaaaa)). By the end of the year Bruce showed his courage and friendship once again and sat me down to discuss my drinking and how concerned he was for me and how much he wanted me to take better care of myself. That didn't go nearly as well as the after school special inside you probably thought it would BUT he didn't back down and, to his credit again, I took a 30 day "lay off" from booze to prove to him, and everyone else, that I didn't need to drink to have fun in college.
Shortly after college we all went our own ways. Bruce worked first in Boston for a radio station and then for the New Jersey Devils and he now works for the WNBA's Sun team at the Moehegan Sun casino. We stayed close at first and saw each other somewhat regularly in the first few years but - as careers and relationships and life got busy, we saw each other less and less.

A week before I met Joy, Bruce and his (now) wife Erica came to DC for a party I had at my apartment. I hadn't seen Bruce in over a year and I had never met Erica before (I don't think?). Our friend Tom came in for the party too. Bruce and Erica spent the night at my apartment the night before the party and I thought all was well but, shortly after the party started, Bruce and Erica left. Another obligation with Erica's brother, I was told.
A few weeks later - I found out the truth. Bruce was DISTRAUGHT over my 500+ pound body and my drinking and partying and he could not stay at the party for another minute. Delenick flew in from Vermont for an actual intervention (God love you for it, brother) but Bruce, once again, showed his friendship and love for me and set the whole thing in motion.

The last time I saw Bruce was at his wedding (picture above - he's the handsome devil in the tux). It was a month after my wedding, to the day. I'm sad to say that, despite living in the same state (and 30 minutes apart) for over a year - I never got a chance to see Bruce. I shouldn't say "chance" . . . I never made it the priority it should have been to see him. He was there. I was there. We just didn't make a point of getting together.

I'm even more sad that I can't see him now. Suer - as soon as I'm 1,300 miles away I see the priority, right?! I feel like I am finally again the person that Bruce became friends with in 1994. The person he was friends with enough to talk about weight loss and excercise. The person he loved and took care of during my drinking days. The person he was so scared for that he called a mutual friend to try and get me back on the right track a few years ago.

I feel like I owe it to Bruce to let him know that I'm okay and that I've lost the weight and that I credit Joy and Ava first, him second and friends like Chris Delenick and Tom Kelly and Danielle Dopman (Magaldi) and Laura Rendano and Kim Usselman (Ballou) and Melissa Bucknavage (Higgins) closely behind for being such good friends to me over the years and for loving me no matter my weight and for encouraging me and supporting me to get me here today.
I love you very much for your friendship and your concern and for your character and personality, Bruce. I hope you know that my success since surgery and the fact that I was even alive to have the surgery and have a shot at a long, healthy life since the surgery is in no small part BECAUSE of you. You have touched and changed my life - and have touched and changed so many lives. For that, I thank you!

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