Brian Mendell

Brian Mitchell Mendell

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Like many of you reading this, you have children that light up your life. Brian was that for me. He began talking at an early age, and for the next twenty-five years he never stopped. Brian loved the outdoors. Whether with his friends or his brother Greg, he would play in the woods for hours, fishing and searching for frogs.

As Brian entered elementary school, his struggles began to emerge. I watched him struggle with so many things we all take for granted: holding a crayon, and simply keeping his balance. When he began middle school, he had a hard time paying attention and he began to struggle academically and socially; he felt as if he didn't fit in. He was originally diagnosed with ADD, however over time this diagnosis included anxiety, depression, and traits of Asperger's.

Brian's curiosity was endless. We would end our evenings talking endlessly. He would want to know about everything: my favorite memories growing up, how I liked my career, how the people in the Dominican seemed so happy with so little material things.

It is impossible to describe Brian without mentioning his smile. He had an ear to ear to smile that was his trademark.

However, the character trait of Brian of which I am most proud was his compassion for others. I have spoken publicly about him crawling under a fence at Yankee stadium when he was eight to give a homeless man a quarter. His favorite memory of high school was taking a trip to the Dominican Republic on spring break to play with children who had so little. After Brian's death, his sober coach wrote, "After Brian and I had lunch together he gave money to homeless people on the street." Another friend wrote, "his big bright smile, easy approachable demeanor and kind eyes are things that come to mind when I think about Brian." It's a lovely memory.