polo mallets A mother’s Love for a fallen son
The end. Such a sad place for a story to begin. Brian Love was the best snowboarder on the mountain captain of the University of Virginia snowboarding team, in fact on Feb. 1, 2005, the day he slammed into a tree during a practice run at Wintergreen Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The tree was a small one maybe five inches in diameter and none of his teammates saw the accident, but the coroner surmised that he died instantly, probably from a ruptured aorta. He was only 22. But we’ll move on now and tell you all about who he was, starting with the fact that he was the firstborn child and the only son of Carmel’s Susan Love, who will run today’s Big Sur International Marathon wearing a T shirt bearing his photograph. She quietly did the same thing last year, and the year before just three months after his death winning her age division (55 59) each time. Two years after the tragedy, she says it hasn’t gotten any easier to live without him. “But I think you have two choices when something like this happens: You either choose to go on, or you don’t,” she explains. “What I’ve discovered is that the coping, for me, involves getting more involved with running in every capacity: my work (she’s a full time employee of the Big Sur International Marathon), my sport (she’s run 32 previous marathons), my passion (she has a part time career as a motivational speaker, inspiring people to run). For me, everything is about running, and that’s where I’m focused right now.” Part of Love’s job with the Big Sur International Marathon is overseeing 4,200 children in the “Just Run” program, designed to promote healthy lifestyles in young people. Those kids, as a group, have jogged over 104,000 miles already this year. He was a 4.0 student at Virginia, about to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a degree in neuroscience basically the study of how the human brain works, and why it thinks the way it does. He wrote two books a fantasy adventure (ironically entitled “A Collision in Time”), and a compilation of his own poetry as a senior at Carmel High (Class of 2001), where, because he took advanced placement courses, his GPA was 4.2 on the 4.0 scale. He was an accomplished musician (clarinet and saxophone) good enough to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival. He was a gifted photographer. He was in student government. He taught surfing and kayaking every summer at La Jolla Cove. He led hiking and mountain climbing excursions for the University of Virginia’s Outdoors Club. He was a martial artist with a second degree brown belt. He was a biker, a rollerblader, a rock climber, a skydiver, a skimboarder. And what a snowboarder. Less than two weeks before his accident, Brian won the men’s Giant Slalom event at Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. Days after his death, he received a letter from a major equipment company that had decided to sponsor his career. “He was an incredible snowboarder the best I’ve known, actually and he was number one in the conference,” said a teammate, Erin Houlihan. He was a kid with big plans enormous, in fact. He wanted to attend grad school at the University of San Diego, which has the best neuroscience department in the country. At the time of his death, he was planning a 2,000 mile kayaking journey down the coast of Mexico. He was also secretly training to run a marathon as a surprise for his mother. “He asked me for a new pair of running shoes that year for Christmas, so these are the last shoes I ever bought him,
” she says, holding a snowy white pair of Mizunos. died, the shockwaves that rolled across the University of Virginia campus were startling. Brian, it turns out, was better at being a great guy than he was at all of those other things. “In the weeks following the incident, my inbox was flooded with e mails about Brian. I’ve never seen so many e mails on a single topic,” a classmate, Adam Reinhard, wrote in a letter to Susan. “I couldn’t bring myself to delete any of them, so they sat, stored, waiting for me every time I logged on to my web mail. Finally, I decided I had to print them out and send them to you, so you could see how much Brian’s life meant to UVA. He was the first person to befriend me on the ski team, and he drove me to Wintergreen twice a week during my first season on the team. When he died, I was struck by how much he and I had yet to do together. I just wanted you to know what a difference your son made in the life of this lonely student at Virginia.” Another classmate wrote, “You never know how many lives your littlest actions or gifts might affect. Brian has shown us all that. Thank you, B Love, for the time that you led us and the paths that you showed us. Earth, and now heaven, are better places for your presence.” Brian raised money for an organization called “Arc of the Piedmont,” which benefits mentally challenged children and adults. (His friends have changed the name of an annual fundraising run to “The Run For Love 5K.”) His postgraduation plans included an excursion to a third world country, where he intended to do whatever he could to help impoverished people. Susan Love points to a basket in her living room filled with 300 cards and letters of condolence. More than two years after her son’s accident, they’re still coming. But she still can’t read most of them, nor can she watch any of the many DVDs his friends have sent. would have wanted for his mother, or his now 22 year old sister, Amy (a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), is unhappiness. “I didn’t wake up one morning and say, ‘Darn it, this is the day I’m going to turn things around and stop feeling so devastated.’ It wasn’t like that,” Susan says. “But my daughter, my son and I have always been doers, and we’ve always taken a lot of pride in what each other has done. I guess I feel a need for my children to still be proud of me, and I know he’d want me to go on, and keep accomplishing things the way he did. He accomplished so much in his 22 years more than I’ll ever achieve in my lifetime and I want to honor that. So that part of my life hasn’t changed there’s just a little bit of a veil over it now.” She says she eventually wants to use Brian’s almost new running shoes in her motivational speeches. That’s probably going to be a tear jerking experience for her, she says, but she’s going to do it anyway to help people win the mind over body battle that all marathon runners fight as they try to finish a 26 mile, 385 yard course. “Brian’s shoes are an image people can ponder as they’re running,” she says. “I’m going to tell them that no matter what befalls them during the race, visualize these shoes, and appreciate every single step of every mile. What are you going to complain about? You’re out there. You’re experiencing. You’ve got miles ahead of you, steps to take. You’re running the most beautiful marathon in the world. The Mountain Resort
By Brian J. Love I meditate on the cool air with every step I take. While the melted snow puddles under my feet freeze my thoughts of trampled bricks wet with envy. Time ceases and excitement grows. The low hum of the chair lifts raise souls to the heavens. And the frosty air focuses all attention on my soul, waiting to be released from the earth and into the powder sky. I pass rows of skis and snowboards gazing at every passerby in hopes of finding their owner. Maybe in hopes of finding anyone. Anyone willing to strip off their chains and ride with them. I have my board and he loves me. We walk through the portal that is the resort center, and into the white happiness that takes us into another world. This resort is a gateway to a higher place. It elevates my board and me.