Remembering Julian Brennan

{You and me walked down the shores of our youth chasing the sunrise, challenging the truth}

I stood by this lake as the sky danced on the water and the fireflies started to appear and I thought of you. I thought about the day at work I was told we had lost you and then I thought about the day I first met you.

You made me nervous with your smile and comfortable with it all at the same time. You were effortless in all that you but cared so much about what you were doing. You were funny. You were talented. So talented. Your kind heart made such an impact on us at work where it was so fast paced that most people didn’t appreciate you until it was too late to. You were a coworker that became a real friend but I never requested you on Facebook. Even though it was a different time then where our friendships weren’t showcased on social media I often wish I had so I could have saved photos of you. I remember one day in passing we bonded over our love of Martin Sexton. One of my favorite musicians from my college years, I have still never met anyone who loved him like my college friends and I did - until you. We had the same favorite song. I felt seen by you in that moment. And in all moments we had together after.

I remember hearing about a play you were performing in. Had you written it? I wouldn’t be surprised and now I wish I saved the program so I could know for certain. I told you in another small but important passing conversation that I would be there, and that I couldn’t wait. You smiled that smile that gave me butterflies and ease at the same time and I could tell it meant a lot to you. I sat right in the front row and kept making eye contact with you throughout the show. You never missed a beat and I felt so honored to be there to see you outside of the work role I saw you in every day. Intermission came. I stayed in my seat because I didn’t know anyone to awkwardly mingle with and you came out to the stage. You sat on a stool with your guitar. It was dark in the theater except enough light to cover you in its warmth. You started strumming and the minute I heard the first cord the hair on my arms stood up and my eyes welled with tears. You sang the lyrics above that meant so much to both of us. We made eye contact. I cried and you smiled. I’ll never forget that moment like I’ll never forget you.

Shortly after you enlisted in the Marines. After you left work wasn’t the same without you. I’ll never forget the day you came and visited us in your uniform right before you were deployed to Afghanistan. You were so handsome. You were so proud. I felt it. We all did. I only saw you quickly that day and now I wish I had taken more time from my “busy” day to visit with you. I remember thinking that I would see you again soon. I didn’t know that would be a lie. You took my breath away and again when I heard you were there I ran over to you, my eyes welled up with tears, and you smiled that smile back at me. I’ll never forget that last moment together, I’ll never forget you.  I wanted to share your name today on this Memorial Day so people as many people as possible could read it. Just once. In between the long weekend trips or holiday cookouts or even in the midst of mourning those they have lost in service too, I wanted them to pause and know you even in a small way. And just like all those small conversations we had in passing they are important. You are important even 10 years after leaving us. If everyone who read this took a moment to think of you, think of how your light will continue to burn bright.

Here is to sharing your name and your story.

To live on anyway you can.

I’ll never forget you.

Thank you for your sacrifice Lance Cpl. Julian Brennan.

As I type this I hear you playing our favorite song, my eyes are full of tears and I know you are smiling down on me like you always did.  To chasing sunrises and challenging the truth. 💛

Sarah Polite