Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Giving Thanks

It is a sad irony that Brandon's tragedy started at Thanksgiving... however, it also serves as a reminder of the things we should continue to be thankful for.

For the time that we spend with the people we care about, for the memories of those who have touched our lives, for the support of our communities and the ability for us to come together in times of need...

Brandon's story continues to remind us of all these things, and more. Rest in Peace Brandon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Forever Young

Today would have been Brandon's 16th birthday. No doubt it is a bittersweet day for the entire Crisp family, and especially Brandon's twin sister.

As the months and eventually years start to pass, Brandon will continue to be the kid we know from the pictures and stories of him - funny, competitive, a good friend, a loved son. When we will look back many years from now, Brandon will still be the smiling 15-year-old that touched our hearts and our lives, frozen in time. Forever young.

Though I still often pause to remember Brandon, it may be a while before I post again in this blog - I've said most everything that there is for me to say. I created this blog to record some of my own thoughts about how Brandon touched my life and the lives of others; maybe someday in the future someone will ask "Who was Brandon Crisp?" and come across these posts, and they will discover how this young man reached into the hearts of so many people.

Rest in peace, Brandon Crisp.

Brandon Crisp

Brandon Crisp

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Time to Reflect

Having had the chance now to look back at the November 14th service, I can say that it will certainly remain one of the most memorable and touching experiences of my life. Sharing it with over 1700 people, and then going home to see it reported as the top item in newscasts from across Ontario – it’s almost surreal, and hard to imagine ever being a part of another experience like it.

As the year draws to a close, we also get a chance to look back at the hectic weeks that followed October 13th. The efforts of the Barrie Police Service in searching and trying to find Brandon must certainly be commended – a lot of officers tried very hard, both in organized searches and in following up tips and leads. Since Brandon’s body was found on November 5th there hasn’t been any new information released, even though police did indicate they would still be looking in to a number of questions. I have to admit that, unlike the Barrie Police, I’m not completely at ease with the information released by the OPP (who took responsibility after Brandon was found outside of Barrie jurisdiction). And while in an earlier post on this blog I did suggest that any new information was worth knowing, I now have to also recognize that Brandon has been laid to rest, and similarly it may be time to lay to rest any lingering questions about the exact circumstances of his passing.

It is through his memory that Brandon Crisp lives on, the memories of his life and how he touched the lives of so many others.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pausing a Moment to Remember

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and especially kids, and certainly this will always be one of the most difficult times of the year to reflect on Brandon's story. Even though much of my days are filled with the usual bustle of this time of year, I find that my thoughts still touch on Brandon at some point every day.

With more than a month since the service in Barrie, many of Brandon’s friends have changed their Facebook profile pics back to their usual photos and away from the pics of Brandon put up in remembrance, but even now a few remain. And the public Facebook “In Memory of Brandon Crisp” group still gets postings, such as this recent one by Jordan, a student from a different high school than Brandon:

“I didn't know you and still don't but that doesn't change the fact that you touched my life. I think about Brandon and his family every day now at least once, but usually more.” ... “Brandon may be gone from us, but he will never be forgotten!”

That sums it up right there. As we celebrate Christmas and the Holidays, I'm proud to join so many others that keep Brandon, his family and his friends in their thoughts.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Photographs, Memories, and Virtual Footprints

Brandon Crisp Brandon Crisp

As the search for Brandon was continuing, and then after he was found, I would at times ponder Brandon's Facebook account - there he was, listed as a Friend to so many of his classmates that had joined the Facebook groups set up around his story. 259 Facebook friends, about average for a high school student these days. A small slice of his life, frozen in time on October 13th.

As it turns out, his Facebook account was deactivated last week, probably by his family. So now what are left are wispy ghosts of his online presence - a tag in some photos here and there. Though some teens fill their profiles with pictures of themselves, and appear all over in photos by others, I get the feeling that this was not the case with Brandon. A couple of pictures were posted to the public group Where is Brandon Crisp, and a couple were released by his family to help in the search - these pictures can be seen at the Flickr link at the side of this page.

The iconic picture that has been seen by everyone is the photo of Brandon by the lake, wearing a stripped blue shirt. This is a great picture. I love it as a photograph - the composition, the lighting, the blue sky - but much more than that it does a great job of presenting Brandon in a way that people can truly relate to. Teenage boys don't like to be described with words such as "sweet", "cute", or "innocent", but those words came up often in the service, and they are captured in this picture. People being the visual animals that they are, this picture in no doubt contributed to the huge outpouring of concern and sympathy for Brandon.

But as much as I love that pic, my favourite pictures of those shared publicly are the ones above - everyday snapshots. In each of those I find small details that make me smile. I know that these pictures are like reading a single paragraph from a classic novel - they can't even begin to tell the full story of Brandon's life; but instead they give a little glimpse, a tiny sliver of insight, into this life that was taken all too soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Finding Promise through the Noise

When I started this blog, I had expected to be a bit more analytical, a bit less emotionally involved. Well, that didn't go exactly as planned. I did, however, look with some interest into how other forums and blogs were covering Brandon's story. I've already talked about the cowardly anonymous trollers and the posts they would make on Facebook groups, but there were also discussions on more traditional internet forums; most of these were still partially anonymous behind screen handles or nicknames, but they were made by users that generally had long posting histories and were clearly making points of view that reflected their opinions.

Discussions on forums and blogs centering around more mature topics, such as politics, lifestyle, and so on, were nearly always sympathetic to both Brandon and his family. While there were dissenting opinions on the video game angle, in general parents would talk about how similar situations had happened to them in the past, or could happen to anyone in the future.

There was also a lot of discussion of the Brandon Crisp story on Video Game forums, due to the strong connection made early on between Brandon and his play of the Xbox game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. These forums are populated by nearly all males, generally in their teens or early twenties. The tone here was much different, with comments disrespectful of the tragedy, of Brandon, and of his parents. I only wish I could bring these comments forward to those individuals in 20 years time, when most will have families of their own, to see how they would feel about the criticisms they made.

But maybe I shouldn't be looking towards Video Game junkies in the first place as an example of the promise of future generations. I should look instead at the young men and women such as those that filled Brandon's service in the hundreds, dressed in their dark shirts and dresses with yellow ties and scarves, paying their respects to a fellow student that many barely knew.

At the service I was seated between two students, both about Brandon's age, sitting on their own without friends or parents around them. The one on my left, dressed in a meticulous dark suit, was there before me, and spent the next three hours in somber and solemn reflection. The one on my right arrived shortly after me with his father, who was unable to stay for the service. This young man would often pull out a tissue throughout the service to dab his eyes. These young people, and the hundreds of others filling the hall to overflowing, were there not because they had to be, but because they wanted to be, to share their sympathy and their sorrow. They are the true embodiment of the hope and promise that Brandon leaves behind for the rest of us.