In 2011, a man named Bryan moved into our town and saw the dire need for a traffic light on the corner of Broad and High. He researched, circulated petitions, contacted town and state officials, and got the process underway. In 2014, Bryan died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 51, leaving a loving wife and daughter, friends, students, and a town he loved. Today, the traffic light is finally in place, and this afternoon, the corner was dedicated to his memory.
Bryan was the type of person who jumped in. He strived to understand, act, organize, and he did. Before he even moved in, he researched the town’s history and current politics, and when he got here, he attended meetings, reached out to town leaders, and served on committees. As someone said at today’s ceremony, Bryan was a do-er.
What is the legacy of a person like this? Clearly, his biggest contribution can be found in his beautiful daughter, but also there are his eighth grade history students, and the family and friends who carry his memory and his ideals. And there’s this corner, now made safe by his efforts. There’s the light of Bryan’s example, as someone who saw a need and acted. There’s the broad reach of his actions to protect countless people who may never have met him or know what he did for them. There’s the memory of how he worked with others, always taking the high road when met with an obstacle. There are his ongoing petitions for the ones he holds most dear. When you look at his wife and daughter, you see him all around them, how he guards them and provides safe crossing until they meet again.
When you think about the many people whose paths cross yours in a lifetime, it can be overwhelming to think of the impact of each intersection. We learn and gain so much from one another, and it’s so rare to have the chance to honor those contributions. Today we did, and I’m grateful. I used to love sitting with Bryan at town meetings, when I would listen with hard-earned cynicism and scrawl critical commentary in a notebook he could see. Bryan would just look and smile, taking it in, but striving to see both sides of every issue, giving the benefit of the doubt to each speaker. He had the long view. He could see the broad reach of every situation, and how the solution for a problem could be found at the crossing of civil dialogue, process, and time. As the years have gone by, his loss is sorely felt, but the legacy of Bryan’s particular approach to life and his guardianship over his dear ones and his corner remain.
Note: I took this picture as I left today’s ceremony. I feel the need to explain that when I reached for my camera, the light was red, and I know it still may not have been the safest choice (sorry, Bryan!), but I had to capture those angels wings over the intersection. Do you see them?