I tend to be a friendly guy and have many people I consider friends. There is a friendship, however that moves beyond typical for me. What I mean by that is if I got a call in the middle of the night, I would board a plane, bus, boat, camel or whatever it took to help. You see, there is a point when someone has been a friend for so long, and in deeply meaningful ways, they are no longer friend but family. A "brother from another mother" doesn't quite cover it. My kids call him "Uncle" because there has to be some way of helping them understand the relationship he has with me, my wife, my parents and because of that, them.
Louis L'amour wrote about the West and the life he imagined ranchers, cattlemen, cowboys and others lived during a time when it was still unruly. The values he placed in many of his characters are still held dear to people today. Honesty, love, loyalty, courage and the willingness to do what is right and needed come through each of his books. One family, in particular, exemplifies these traits. The Sacketts. If you mess with one, you'll get all the brothers running your way. That's just how they work, and that is just how Brian works. I know if I called, he would come running. The traits that L'amour found to be so critical for his characters are exemplified in my friend.
We met in Highschool when neither of us knew who we were and what we were about. Both of us found different ways to seek identity on some level. We found a common thread in our ability to drink a lot of beer and have fun with a variety of people. But it wasn't like we had (or even have!) much in common.
Brian is the consummate outdoorsman. He is an avid hunter and teaches Ag Ed in Montana. He is a Gold Star Award winner as well as Montana Outstanding Agricultural Education Teacher Award winner. The guy mountain bikes and even built a boat! Who does that!? For a time he did construction and was a contractor so fixing things around the house or building items are no big thing for him.
On the other hand, I suck at fixing anything. I like the outdoors but especially when I'm with other people. Sports, books, history and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are more my things.
But it wasn't our hobbies that connected us. It was a common way of looking at life. We both determined that people and the way they interacted with life mattered. Brian had a way of putting things that helped me. Maybe because he was funny, (he is a fantastic storyteller) or because he could be as irreverent as me, but we got each other. That's why we hung out.
After a night running around town, watching a movie or some other venture, we would spend hours, and I mean hours sitting in the car talking. Sometimes it was my driveway, sometimes his, but getting home only signaled the important stuff of life would start.
We wrestled with how we felt about family, friends, school, girls and God. No topic was off limits and in the seat of Brian's car, I learned about my friend and myself. One time, after my family was dragged through the mud, Brian told me the truth about how I was handling it. "You are one bitter guy," he said. God that stung. But he was right. And I desperately needed to hear it. That is what friends are for. He didn't know the impact that would have on me, and I am so grateful for his willingness to speak into my life.
We took legendary road trips to Missouri and Seattle, dodged elk, danced in clubs, fixed parking meters, escaped drug addicts and laughed till our sides hurt.
We rededicated our lives to Christ around the same time. I remember desperately trying to figure out this Jesus thing and going to a 'Christian' concert seemed like a good idea to help. So, without shame I admit, I went to see Amy Grant. The concert was during her 'Baby, Baby' days and I don't remember why, but Brian went with me. Among the screaming tweens and moms, the two of us stood out like sore thumbs. We were dancing (I am a far better dancer) and having fun when (to this day he gets this wrong) Amy Grant walked over to our area and waved at me. My walk with Jesus was complete.
Somehow, someway, we got involved in Christian campus ministry at the University of Montana. Our faith grew, and I think because of that, so did our friendship. We met our wives during this time and had a ton of adventures. His path led him to Agriculture and teaching mine to History and Seminary.
Life hasn't been all peaches and cream for Brian and his family, but they have an incredible spirit about them. His wife is amazing, and a good friend to mine and his kids are a great reflection of them both; smart, funny, active and loving. The Bays are beautiful people all the way around.Who am I that I get to have a friend like that? Why am I so lucky? I know some people go through life without this kind of connection. No retelling of my journey would be complete without Brian and the impact he has made in my life. I know what it means to be loved, accepted and challenged. As if the Fabey clan wasn't enough like the Sacketts, we have another friend and brother. His name is Brian, and we are blessed to know him.