Twenty-three years young and a lifetime to go. That was our “Phil” – strong, resilient, searching. Just ahead, the successes and shortcomings, the epiphanies in understanding and frustrations in uncertainty yet to come. But, “oh, the places he’d go” we all conceded, anticipating, at the very least, an enduring journey. . .
Would he stay the course of a formal college education but continue giving preference to the teachings of first hand experiences from the open road, an open agenda, and a bike with a full tank of gas?
Would he find success again in high school athletics working the other side of the football as “Coach Bryant?” How many aspiring players would take a knee, season after season, to learn from his expertise as an All-County linebacker and Varsity Co-Captain? How many graduating seniors would walk away with integrity, character, and inner strength from his lessons of becoming a “team player” to win big - on and off the field?
Would he continue implementing humanitarian rescue missions to those in need of second chances or opportunities to overcome debilitating circumstances? Do his “step brothers” thank God at every day’s end for their sense of peace and good fortune, their benevolent friend and his family?
Would he struggle to regain his senses after being blindsided with emotion at a chance meeting with a “spunky” girl loaded with personality? How many hours, minutes, or seconds would pass before she fell for the warmth and comfort of his inviting grin – the sparkling sincerity in his eyes? What culinary masterpieces would he create to enhance the first impression on the all-telling first date? How many meals before she realized he alone was “the catch of the day” in need of being “caught.” Which uncle would then give him the best advice for a life-altering proposal, or would he choose his own simple trademark “note in the picture frame” strategy to convey his intentions?
Would he shake off wedding day jitters but not the tears at the vision of his bride captivating the congregation with her presence? Will his big brother stand witness to the union as the proud best man supporting his little brother? Will his twin sister hold him tight in her happiness and, yet, be saddened by a sense of fraternal separation? Will his Dad share a toast to “the best years of their lives” ahead as man and wife? Will he find the perfect song of tribute for a special moment with his “best girl” as they dance mother to son?
Would he create a home modeled after his own with a revolving door for friends and family to share each other’s company as little ones vie for their “Dad’s” attention?
Would he always make time for mending scraped knees, wiping running noses from freshly cried alligator tears, and holding long talks in the bedroom with little minds hanging on his every word?
Would he share his passion for pastimes of fishing, surfing, and outdoor living in anticipation of the priceless look of accomplishment and excitement on his children’s faces?
Would he & his “Mrs.” drift into a comfortable old age, reminiscing of days gone by and lives well-lived?
These things we wondered - and hoped, and dreamed. . .but a greater vision for Phil superseded our own.
Philip Andrew Bryant passed away Thursday, September 7, 2006 from complications of melanoma cancer. Though we continue to mourn the loss of his presence, we have found solace in creating the Philip A. Bryant Melanoma Foundation to keep his spirit and memory alive within us.
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