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.