Gone Too Soon: An Ode to Mary

Gone Too Soon: An Ode to Mary

Like a comet, blazing ‘cross the evening sky. Gone too soon.

I’ve been putting this post off, not because I didn’t know what to say, but because I didn’t want to say it. Kind of like an if I don’t write it, then it’s not true type of thing. Well, it is true, my friend is gone. On the 25th of August 2021, Mary Earline Bradley passed away, after a months-long battle with the Delta Variant of COVID-19. She was 39.

Like a rainbow, fading in the twinkling of an eye. Gone too soon.

Mary’s twin sister, Martha, asked me to speak at the funeral and I agreed without hesitation. Then I thought about it, how was I going to get up in front of a room full of people and speak. Me, someone who tries so hard not to be noticed, I was going to go up, stand in front of a microphone and speak? Yeah right. Well, on the 8th of September, I did just that and I swear Mary’s spirit had to be standing right next to me, because I stepped up to that microphone and I gave the speech of my life.

Shiny and sparkly and splendidly bright. Here one day. Gone one night.

If you are asked to speak at a funeral. I have two pieces of advice. One, only do it if you are comfortable being in front of people, of which I have made clear that I am not. And two, DO NOT tell my dad! From the minute he found out that I was speaking he never stopped giving me stories and material to use.

Brian, make sure you tell the story about how Mary and Martha, although they became two of my best players, they were SO bad when they first started playing basketball that he told me to stop bringing my friends around because they were messing up every drill we tried to run. Oh, and Brian, make sure you tell the story about when I had my stomach surgery during their Sophomore season, and they came to visit at the hospital, he fell asleep and when he woke up three hours later, Mary and Martha were still sitting at the foot of the bed.

After he got about 5-6 stories deep, I finally looked at him and said “Dad, do you want me to get Martha to let you speak?”

Like the loss of sunlight, on a cloudy afternoon. Gone too soon.

I had my own stories to share about Mary. Stories like our shared love of basketball and what used to be known as WWF now the WWE. Never thought I would find someone who loved both of those things as much as I did.

There was also our shared love of movies. The twins are two people that I could have a full-on conversation with just using movie quotes.

There were thousands of stories to tell about the MANY games of spades. Of course, we were in a church, so those were out.

Let’s just say the competitiveness is taken to levels I never knew possible. I’ve seen furniture moved; insults hurled. If you have ever had the opportunity to play with the twins, you know it is an experience you’ll never forget.

Like a castle, built upon a sandy beach. Gone too soon.

Then there was the fact that I could call Mary at any point, day, or night. It could be 4 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning. If I had something to talk about, good/bad/whatever. If I called, Mary would answer.

That is the Mary I chose to speak about.

Like a perfect flower, that is just beyond your reach. Gone too soon.

Fast forward to a week before Mary’s funeral. Martha, Mary’s girlfriend, Leighann, and I were gathering pictures for the slideshow, that was played at the funeral. At some point around 1am, Martha’s little girl, Ariel, woke up.

Now, there will come a time when Ariel and I become friends, but let’s just say we are a ‘work in progress’ as she hasn’t realized how much she loves me just yet.

Ariel didn’t want anything to do with me, she would cling to her mother, began to whine any time I would mess with her. Now, she did just wake up so she was cranky, I didn’t take any offense. Well, as I was walking out the front door, I felt something pushing me in the back. Martha started chuckling and said “Ariel, stop pushing him out the door!” She was basically telling me to GET OUT!

Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight. Here one day. Gone one night.

Like a sunset, dying with the rising of the moon. Gone too soon.

So, Martha and I had a good laugh about that as I got in my car to head home. As soon as I pull out of the driveway, I picked up my phone, still laughing about Ariel kicking me out. I scroll over to my favorites list and right before I was about to hit the name to call, I look down and realize who I was about to call. It was Mary. Just like I had done a million times before, another moment happened to me, and I wanted so bad to tell her about it. So, there I was, staring at her name in my phone, my hand started to shake, and the tears started to fall. I must have cried the whole way home.

Out of all the reasons there are to miss Mary Bradley, not being able to pick up the phone and call her to share stories, like that one, will be what I miss the most.

Mary, I don’t know where I am headed, when my time down here is complete. But I know I’ll be ok, as long as you are saving me a seat.

I miss you.

Gone too soon.