Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life Lessons I Learned From Braydon

Hearts have been heavy at our house since last night when our dear friend Braydon Nielson passed away following a tragic cycling accident.

It’s one thing when an old person dies. But it’s a whole different thing when a young guy like Braydon with a sweet wife and four little kids is taken from us. That feels a lot harder. It’s like a kick in the stomach every time you realize that this is real. It’s not just a bad dream.

For the last 24 hours I’ve been thinking a lot about Braydon. I’ve been thinking about what I learned from him. And I’ve been thinking about how to find some glimmer of hope from all this mess.

I’d like to share with you some lessons I learned from Braydon. It’s okay if you don’t know him. I think the things he taught me apply to everyone, whether you knew this amazing young man or not.

Be kinder than is necessary.
Me and my wife were Braydon’s best friends. And so were hundreds of other people. He was the kind of person who was kind and accepting and personable. You are giving a gift to others when you help them feel wanted and needed and loved. (This was after we finished the Utah Valley Half Marathon.)

A smile can transform someone’s day.
Braydon was always smiling. Always. I want to be the kind of person who is always positive and smiling. Like the kind of smile where your cheeks hurt. I want the kind of wrinkles on my face that show that I’ve been laughing entirely too much during my life.
 
People are drawn to enthusiasm.
Braydon was energetic and positive. He was a master at making the best of situations. The most used word in Braydon’s vocabulary was “Booyah!” When you’re happy and enthusiastic people want to be around that. There is so much sadness and heartache in this world. We need more people who are happy and positive. Way more people.
 
To be successful you have to be brave.
Braydon wasn’t the standard image of an athlete. He was a big guy. It was hard to find a wet suit that fit. But do you know what is so seriously awesome? He didn’t let fear paralyze him. Concern about how he would look to others didn’t prevent him from going for his dreams. This is such an admirable quality.
 
Achievement doesn’t come easy.
In order to achieve big things like Braydon did (Half Ironman races, marathons, and multiple half marathons), you have to work hard. And he did. He put in the time and dedication to train for races. He was proof that you could work hard and have lots of fun at the same time.
 
Never ever give up.
My family volunteered this year at the St. George Half Ironman. When Braydon got to our aid station during his run we knew he was having a hard day. We knew he would be lucky to make the cutoffs. At the end of the day Braydon didn’t make the cutoffs to finish the race.
 
I was worried about him afterward. I knew he had worked so hard in training and must have felt discouraged after not finishing. But instead of giving up, Braydon registered for another Half Ironman a month later. And he finished that thing. If he had quit the first time he didn’t succeed he would have never felt that amazing accomplishment of making it to the finish line in his next race.
 
I can’t image not seeing Braydon at the next race or fun run. Southern Utah athletics will never be the same without him. And yet it’s fitting that he died doing what he loved. He was first place at life’s finish line last night. I imagine that he showed up in heaven, gave God a high five, and let out a loud trademark “Booyah!”

May we hold our loved ones a little tighter. May we treat others with kindness and patience. May we take advantage of the life we’ve been given. Every hour, every minute, every second.


34 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your loss, Cory. Braydon sounds like an amazing guy, someone we'd all have been better for knowing. Thank you for sharing about him.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. You hit it right on the head when you said it feels like a kick in the gut. You just want to wake up and find you were only dreaming. I love that you have found so many great things to help remind you of his awesomeness through your family's time of grieving.

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  3. This was soooooo sad. Prayers to his family and may we all live our lives a little differently hearing his story.

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  4. Thanks for writing this. I am in tears thinking of how tragic this whole thing is. When I read your words I realize that he was so much better than people who've been on this earth 80 years. Such a wonderful example. I have no doubt the Lord welcomed him and said "Well done!"

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  6. Thank you for writing this Cory. It sounds that Braydon was a great guy that everyone could learn from. My condolences go out to his family.

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  7. Thanks Cory. I am so glad you took the time to write this up. Beautiful statements of how all of us that knew him felt of him. Truly he left the world a better place than it was before I knew him. Because of him, I am inspired to be a better human being. Thanks.

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  8. Every time I hear of a cyclist dying in a ride I get a pit in the bottom of my stomach. My husband rides hundreds of miles every week and has already walked away from two accidents with cars, I feel like we're pushing our luck already!

    He sounds like the kind of person who blesses the lives of those around him, and I'm positive he will continue to do so. I am so glad that he had friends around him that have such wonderful memories of him.

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  9. Your words summing up Braydon are spot on!!! I had the privilege of working with him at the hospital. You have described him perfectly. He is a great inspiration! I am a better person just for having known him. His smile would light up a room and make the hardest day at work see like a good time. Thank you for your description of Braydon.

    Carrie

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  10. Perfectly stated. . .he impacted so many lives. He will continue to teach by the example he set here on earth. A hero for everyone.

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  11. Perfectly stated. . .he impacted so many lives. He will continue to teach by the example he set here on earth. A hero for everyone.

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  12. Beautiful!!!! Thanks for writing that!!!

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  13. He was the nicest charge nurse Ever!. Always took care of his staff. He will be truly missed.

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  14. This is a beautiful tribute, Cory. Braydon sounds like the kind of guy we would all have been lucky to know.

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  15. Very, very sad. I am so sorry for your loss -- and to all of Braydon's friends and family -- my heart aches for you.

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  16. Thanks for sharing this Cory. Fantastic job on this piece. We all could learn some things from Braydon...

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  17. I love this. I learned all of those lessons from him, and I hope to be more like him. Thank you for writing this.

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  18. I wish I had known him! The world has lost another of the best, because they are the ones who die young. So incredibly sad, yet wow! what a wonderful example to those of us left behind. Keep running toward the finish line! Sincere condolences all around--Northern Utah is thinking of you...

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  19. What a beautiful post Cory, and what a beautiful soul Braydon was. Hugs and prayers for all that are hurting and missing him.

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  20. Incredible. What an inspiration.

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  21. So unfair. Thank you for sharing Braydon with us. A positive person, hard worker, and a nurse to boot. My kind of people. I am so, so sorry to hear about his passing. My thoughts and prayers to you all, especially for his wife and children.

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  22. This is such a beautiful and touching tribute to someone I have never known, but now wish I had. He sounds like a wonderful person who will be truly missed. I am sorry for your loss and for his family. But you have truly honored him and his life in your words.

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  23. Thank you so much for sharing this Cory. I have been so sad to hear about Braydon...although, I didn't know him I think what you said is so true...its just hard to imagine losing such a wonderful young soul and friend that has a sweet young family. Kick in the gut is definitely an accurate description of that feeling. Braydon sounds absolutely amazing and it sounds like he has touched the lives of SO many. I am grateful to read this post and be reminded to truly cherish life, happiness, the people around me, and positivity.

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  24. I'm so sorry about your friend Cory. I can see just by the photos what a beautiful happy soul he was. His smile is contagious.

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  25. What a great tribute. I never knew Braydon, but from what you've said about him makes me want to TRY that little bit harder and smile that much more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  26. Braydon sounded like a truly amazing person and I am sorry for your loss. When I read this blog it struck me that all the things that you found amazing in Braydon are the reasons your blog has been inspiring me, especially your smile. I use to care that most pictures of me catch me with a big non-glamorous smile that showed too much gum. I use to try to smile more “lady like”. Not anymore. I am proud of my big goofy smile that starts on the inside. I think Braydon will live on in your smile and now mine.

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  27. Thank you Cory. You know him well. I will accept your challenge and strive to carry the Spirit of "Booyah" in my life daily. May we all accept this challenge from Cory and make the world a better place like our dear friend Braydon Nielson!

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  28. Thank you Cory. You know him well. I will accept your challenge and strive to carry the Spirit of "Booyah" in my life daily. May we all accept this challenge from Cory and make the world a better place like our dear friend Braydon Nielson!

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  29. I'm so sorry, Cory - what a tragic loss to a very beautiful person both inside and out. I know you'll carry those valuable lesson he taught you throughout the rest of your life....and I, too, will be reminded of this these when life gets tough (like now). RIP, Braydon!

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  30. I'm so sorry, Cory - what a tragic loss to a very beautiful person both inside and out. I know you'll carry those valuable lesson he taught you throughout the rest of your life....and I, too, will be reminded of this these when life gets tough (like now). RIP, Braydon!

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  31. sorry for your loss may he rest on peace!

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  32. Oh man, sounds like he was a great guy and that he made a difference. Just sounds like a bad set of circumstances. Great tribute by you.

    And hearing about things like this is a reason why I've hesitated picking up biking outside. I generally only cycle inside right now on stationery bikes. I guess also it depends on who else is in my family - right now it is just me so if I die no one else is directly affected. Someone with 4 kids and a wife like Braydon has way more responsibilities than the average person. Not saying that people shouldn't follow their passions, but when others are potentially affected you need to be careful with what you undertake. Side note, but I hope he had life insurance.

    http://www.kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_6647.shtml

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