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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Brian Naranjo - A Celebrated Man

It's Saturday...

It's Saturday, and at this very moment a few hundred miles north of me, my friend is grieving the loss of her husband.

It's Saturday and this week has felt like an eternity.  I've moved through this week with such a heavy heart.

And I feel guilty for being trapped in this fog of sorrow, as I'm not the one who lost my life long partner of over 20 years. I'm not the one who just got my husband back from Afghanistan, only to lose him to an unexpected death.

I can not fathom how my friend is coping, walking step by step through the process of burying her soul mate at the tender young age of 39.

Brian Naranjo would have been 40 years old on February 29th, 2012. Brian Naranjo would have his whole life ahead of him.  He would have been celebrating a marquis year, when you're supposed to reflect on where you've come and what you have left to do. 

In reading his Facebook wall, as I'm inexplicably drawn to it, I've read the many memories shared from his childhood friends, family, and fellow soldiers. I smile tenderly at a picture of someone I never met in person, but knew through my friend ... his wife, Brooke, and FaceBook.

I hurt, seeing his smiling face on his profile picture, in which he stands next to his front door. The front door which has a homemade drawn sign on butcher paper, which reads, 'Welcome Home'.

I don't know why we all can't live to a ripe old age of 109.  I don't get it when people are taken too young ... too soon.

I don't get it.

What I do get is just how big of an impact Brian made those around him.  And isn't that what it's all about?  Brian's faith in the Lord and courageous spirit gave him what he needed for 39 bold years to make his mark on life.  A mark that left an imprint on each of of those he encountered.

For me - Brian helped get my foot in the door with a publisher. He is a major factor in why 'Finding Kylie' was considered and got published.  He helped fulfill a lifelong dream of mine, and that is not something I take lightly.

On another occasion, he read on Facebook I was looking for some photoshop software.  My computer had crashed and I lost all my programs.  He contacted me to see how he could help, as he was also a photographer.  He was in Afghanstan and was asking if he cold help me ...  that blew me away.  Here's someone who's serving overseas in a very dangerous area, and he's taking time to reach out to help his wife's friend for software needs.  But that was Brian...he did what he could, whenever he could to help...no matter what.

Brain was also a gifted author with two books: 'Childish Things' & 'The Tamale List'.  In fact ... just 2 days before reading about his death on Brooke's Facebook wall - his status announced that a major literary agent and publishing house was picking up his third book.   I was so happy for him.  There was so much to look forward to for him and his future.

Brian's celebrated military career was just as interesting as he was ... but as I couldn't recall it as well as Brooke could, I use her words below.

'Brian was a Mass Communications Chief in the Navy Reserve. He was active duty Navy from 1990-1999, with assignments to AFRTS (FEN-Tokyo), COMNAVMAR, Guam, and at JRB Fort Worth. He joined the Reserve in 2001 and served on deployments to Chinhae, Korea in 2001-2002, Misawa, Japan in 2008, and at ISAF in Afghanistan from 2009-2010. Brian's proudest moment came when he received his anchors in a ceremony in 2002 while he was the (Civilian) Public Affairs Officer of NAF Atsugi, Japan. He will be remembered as a Chief, not an E-7.'

Brian wrote for the The Navy Reservist (TNR) magazine, Anchors in the Dirt.  He wrote on topics that were based from his tour in Afghanistan.  He was well known for his wit, humor, and wisdom.  It takes a moment to load, but I encourage you to click through to read some of his work - here.

Most importantly than all these accolades above - Brian was a loving family man, who served his country and his God.

So as I type ... and as his family sadly prepares him for burial ...

Brian is lovingly held in the arms of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.   And although we all know we'll see him again one day - we can't help but miss the brightness of the man that left this world way too early.

Rest in Peace my friend ... and know your family and friends will miss you.
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