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I don't want to write about Brian Kalla. Instead, I want to have some of the amazing pancakes he always made when our families had breakfast-for-dinner dates, or the spicy matzoh ball soup he would bring me because he knew how much I loved it.

I want to pour him a drink and tell him one more time how much it meant to us this past summer, when my husband, Jim, had a terrifying MRSA infection, and Brian came over and tended to him, brought him Medihoney and medical advice and comfort and friendship.

I don't want to write about Brian Kalla. But I have to, so you'll know how few real friends my husband has -- how guarded and cautious and how very typically male Jim is about letting anyone in. I have to tell you how I teased Jim about the unabashed bromance he and Brian had going.

"You totally love that guy," I would say to Jim as he headed off to spend the afternoon building stuff or working on cars at Brian's house, or when he invited Brian and the kids to come hang out at the pool, or called him up to see if he could borrow his pressure washer. Again.

Brian had this laugh that got me every time; it had a kind of a shout in the middle of it, and it cracked me up. He helped carve the turkey at our house this past Thanksgiving. He brought his much-adored family over for trick-or-treating this past Halloween -- an annual tradition that has long served as a milestone in our years.

He was outspoken and irreverent and prickly and warm and sweet and absolutely hilarious. He was one of four brothers, just like my husband, and Jim and Brian had a running joke about that. I would explain it here, but it's really only funny to them. Lots of things were really only funny to them.

My husband loved Brian, and I loved him, and we had vivid pictures in our minds of the future Halloweens and Thanksgivings and breakfasts-for-dinner we'd all have together as we eased deep into middle age, as our amazing kids grew up, as the bromance I teased Jim and Brian about spun out for years and years.

I do not want at all to write about Brian Kalla. But now I will because Brian died unexpectedly last week, and we all lost that imagined future. His wife and kids, who adored and relied on him. His friends, who loved to hear him laugh. His patients and his colleagues, who counted on not just his expertise, but his humanity and his humor, his irreverence and his intellect.

Those pictures we all had in our heads of a long future that included Brian -- that included his laugh and his warmth and his many sharp edges -- are erased. And we're left to figure out how pictures of the future are supposed to look without those essential things.

Above all, I know this really would have infuriated Brian. I am sure of it. It certainly infuriates me. And I know the loss of our great friend is a tiny, infinitesimal fraction of the loss his family will endure from now until always. So I guess I'm writing this thing I really don't want to write about Brian Kalla for them.

Because Suzanne and Sadie and Joey, please know, please understand: We love him, and we love you. We know there's nothing we can do, not really, but we're standing with you and we always will.

We'll always be among the people who can hear his laugh in our heads. He'll always be part of us and of our family, and you will be, too. There's nothing we wouldn't do for you.

And I'm just so sorry I had to write this about Brian Kalla.

Contact Mary Fortune at thirtytensomething.blogspot.com.

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