Telling Brad Brad's Name
I knew before I even popped the question to Sherri what our son would be named. I told her it was non-negotiable. I had known Bradley Lepage since first grade and I was going to name my son after him. He was my best friend and he meant so much to me that I wanted to honor him in that way but that wasn't my only reason for the name. I wanted to honor my son by naming him after the best man I knew.
Guys speak an emotional language women don't understand. It's embarrassing and uncomfortable for us when emotions are naked and open and women make it worse by making a big deal out of it when we do show emotions. So guys say everything by saying very little or nothing. A gesture, a man hug, a fist bump, a shared smirk, a simple phrase, things like that are how guys show emotions to each other. If someone asked me if I ever tell my guy friends I love them I'd say all the time even though I don't think I've ever said the words to them. The thing is my guy friends would agree, too.
Still, being a guy, I sometimes forget that some things have to be said. Sherri didn't argue with me about the name. She just asked if I had ever told Brad about my plans. I told her of course I hadn't. I would be able to tell him someday when I sat a baby named Brad on his lap. Brad had muscular dystrophy, though, and as the years passed it became apparent that he would be gone before that baby boy arrived and Sherri decided we should tell him about it. Sherri was wrong about a lot of things in our time together but she was right about a lot of things, too.
"Brad we want you to know how much you mean to us," Sherri said with his arm around him, "If we ever have a son we're going to name him Bradley after you."
There are a lot of cliches about beautiful smiles but if you took all of them and combined them into one mega-cliche they wouldn't come close to adequately describing Brad's smile that day. He looked at me and said, "Really," and I was too emotional to do anything but nod. Being a guy he understood and nodded back at me. I waited a moment until I trusted myself not to cry and then I sat down beside him.
"But why?" he turned to me and asked.
I searched for a way to say it. Brad meant the world to me. Brad was everything. If I raised a son that turned out to be half the man Brad was I know I've done a damn good job as a parent. It was hard to imagine bringing a child into the hard and cruel world we live in but Brad was the reason I could. He was proof that there are people worth living for and evidence that a child brought into this world can be a good thing for the world too. Us being guys, though, we lacked the ability to talk to each other like that.
"You're my best friend, Brad," I said instead as I put my arm around him.
He looked at me, both of us with tears in our eyes that we wouldn't let fall in front of each other, and I knew that he knew what I meant.
I hope he always knew what he meant to me. I didn't say it but I showed it. I helped beat up kids that picked on him in first grade. I almost always dropped anything I had going to hangout and wrestle with him. As a goalie on our soccer team I always made sure to cover for the mistakes he made as a defenseman because of his disability and I always gave him the credit when the other team didn't score. I was by his side during his dad's funeral. When he moved to Cape Girardeau I did my best, with a lot of help from his family and mine, to still see him as much as possible. When he finally succumbed to being confined in a wheelchair it was no big deal to me. We went through puberty together playing video games and talking about boobs. I included him in as many activities as I could and was only friends with people that would include him too. I was honored to have him as my best man in my wedding. As he health declined I would help him eat and help him drink when I saw him and I never made a big deal out of it. During one hospital stay when I asked him how bad it had been and he answered bad I sat with him and kept him company and comforted him. I'm pretty sure he knew.
The cool thing is that Bradley Murray knows how much Bradley Lepage meant to me. We talk about him quite a bit and he gets it. He's only eight but he gets it. Whenever I say that Brad Lepage and I use to do something together Brad Murray suddenly becomes ten times more interested in whatever it is. I think he does it because he sees how it makes me smile. That's the kind of boy he is and that means that so far he's living up to his name.
On my way back from Cape tonight the rain stopped and I got to see a rainbow over the sun setting over a lake. I guess this would have been comforting to some but it only made me sadder and lonelier. I would say I wanted someone to share the sight with but that wouldn't be quite right. I had been listening to country music and it's cavalcade of love songs on the radio but it wasn't a woman or any woman that I wanted to share the sight with. I wanted to point the rainbow and the sunset out to one or both of my two Brads.
I'm so happy there's only fourteen days to go until Brad gets home.