Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The Laddie Says Goodbye
I spent two and a half amazing hours this afternoon at the funeral of a friend, the Fighting Irishman. Brian Quinlivan was the first to welcome me when I began cardiac rehab. We were on adjoining recumbant bikes when he said, "Don't worry - you'll be an old pro at this in no time." He went on to tell the story of traveling to Ireland to ask his future father-in-law for his daughter's hand in marriage. Five weeks later we learned that the class cut-up had been diagnosed with inoperable kidney cancer.
Always irreverently joking with the guys (I was often the only woman there), the boy from the Bronx was the one who was always talking, always urging us on. The announcement that he was very, very ill brought stunned silence.
Also in the 7:20 class is David Perlmutt, a writer with the Charlotte Observer. His long article about Brian in this morning's paper was enlightening but not surprising. I liked Brian instantly and knew when I met him that he was a very special guy. I did not know so many others felt the very same way.
A fund raiser at Connolly's Irish Pub two weeks ago brought out 600 people. Today's service was attended by at least that many if not more. It was standing room only for dozens. The most heart-wrenching moment in the testamonials to Brian came from Sandra Connick, his children's Irish step-dance instructor - a woman from the Emerald Isle. In her Irish brogue she told of her visit with Brian four days ago. His last words to her were: "Tell the boys the laddie says goodbye."
Although my time with Brian was short, his impact on me was huge. I will never forget him.