Monday, September 12, 2011

A Tribute Post To My Best Friend - Alex Briceno - R.I.P.

This is the hardest post I'll ever have to type. Three years ago, I started at my current company and met a guy named Alex. He stood 6'4" or so, broad shoulders and was rather intimidating in stature. Little did I know it was just a big kid wrapped up in a big body. Alex and I became friends rather quickly. We goofed off together at work, hung out at the bar after work, and talked about a lot of things... women, life, cars, family, religion, politics... if there was a party to be had, he was usually there and invited me and eventually Robin along. He had "DorkFest" at his apartment, which involved lots of video games and lots of beer. He talked of wanting to go play night golf (sneaking onto Hermann Park's course with glow-in-the-dark balls) and we never actually made it out there. He attempted to take Robin and I sailing, which failed completely when I pinched a nerve in my back 5 minutes into it. He never let me live it down either, calling me "gimp" pretty much from then on.
The pictures in this post are from a pub crawl that he did, on a whim, with me and Robin. He was always down for anything, at a moments notice. All you had to do was call, and Alex was on his way. About two years ago, he left the company after his dad passed away and left him with the means to do whatever he wanted. So he packed up and spent three months doing wilderness survival training in Wyoming, e-mailing or texting when he had a chance, sending pictures of him having a BLAST in 4 feet of snow in a tent. When he got back, many pounds lighter and very hairy, we picked up right where we left off... until he went down to Key West for a few months to do SCUBA and Free Diving certification... then off to Columbia to help with charitable causes and research. Then to France for a family reunion. Our pack of friends just started referring to him as a nomad, a wonder-er, a gypsy who came and went as he pleased. I found out he was in town once when a friend saw him "gondolier-ing" through a local Target parking lot on a long board pushing himself with a long stick. He was larger than life some times... always the center of attention (he loved doing cartwheels when egged on, even at company parties). He was a groomsman in our wedding just 14 months ago. He was a hit at the reception, doing the worm, being his usual spastic self, dancing and being the overall awesome guy that he is.
Before Robin and I left for Mobile last month, we got to hang out with him at a friend's concert. He showed up and within minutes you could tell he couldn't sit still. He went to his truck, grabbed his long board and started skating the parking lot, begging our friend Miller to join him to no avail. I wish I had gotten up and indulged him, I regret not doing so... This past Friday night, bored out of my mind, I got in touch with him on Facebook and he called me as he was headed out the door to hang out with some mutual friends. He was happy, he was excited about life, some things had happened recently and he was making choices, making plans. We talked about him coming out to Mobile for a little while, as he was a Alabama grad, to stay with us and see some of his friends in the area. We said we'd talk later...
I got the call yesterday about 4pm... Alex was gone. At 1:45am yesterday, he got in a single car accident, wasn't wearing a seat belt and left all of us who knew him with a BUNCH of questions... My best friend, and I don't just throw that term around lightly, is gone. To Alex, you packed a whole lot of living into your 28 years my friend, more than most people do in their lifetime. I wish you had slowed down and let us all enjoy you more, but I guess you're one of those flashes in the pan of life. Our only choice was to stand back and watch the brilliance as your star burnt so bright. You are missed already, you'll be missed still. Your sister and mom will hurt far worse, far longer and far deeper than I can. I still don't believe it. I check my phone constantly for a message I know won't come... I hope you and your father are up racing cars across the heavens...

20 comments:

  1. Sorry about your loss Sam. Alex sounds like an all-around great guy, and I'm sure he'll be looking down on you.

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  2. no sarcastic remark tonight.... you have my deepest condolences friend. Take care.

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  3. I'm very sorry to hear of your loss. Alex seemed like a great guy and I'm sure he'll be missed. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of his family and friends.

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  4. I have gone through something similar in my life a few years back, but I still don't really have any words that will help ease the pain. It'll take a lot of time for you. You have my sincere condolences.

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  5. Man you will be in me and my family's prayers, very sorry to hear about it...

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  6. That's a true tragedy. Sorry to hear it Sam.

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  7. Sorry to hear Sam. It's not fair when things like that happen..

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  8. I'm so sorry to hear this Sam. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and Alexs family.

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  9. I'm sorry to hear man, it's sad when someone is taken away so young and full of life.

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  10. I wish I knew Alex, but your post makes it seem like I already do. In his way too short time here it's clear he had amazing experiences most will never get to do in a lifetime. I hope you find some solace in the wonderful memories you shared with him.

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  11. I'm very sorry to hear of this, Sam. My best wishes and deepest condolences.

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  12. Hi. I too call Alex a best friend. We met in 2005 in college and pretty much wrecked havoc whenever we could. My husband was just injured in war and lost some limbs, and I knew I could count on Alex to talk me down on the days of rehab that are going to be really rough. I don't know what positive, out-of-the-box thinking friend I'll call now. You can't replace him.

    thank you for this post. I know the hole in your heart. I hope one day soon we can all feel a warm light where he once was here. I'm not sure about afterlife and religion, but if energy is transferable you know we'll feel him.

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  13. Sorry to hear that Sam. I suppose he explored everything there was to explore here on Earth so he's moved on to the next level.

    Having endured a couple tragedies this week myself, I'm right there with you man. Just remember that the questions exist because that person was special.

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  14. I'm so sorry to hear about that Sam. I only met Alex once, at your wedding, but I could tell he was an awesome guy. You have my deepest sympathy. You'll all be in my prayers.

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  15. I'm sorry for your loss, Sam. My thoughts and prayers for you and all who were lucky enough to know Alex.

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  16. Sam, I wanted to thank you for posting this. To be honest, I came across this post when trying to figure out what happened to Alex earlier today.

    Like you, Alex was a great friend of my. I met him as a freshman at the University of Alabama. Before meeting Alex, I recognized him as a kid I past walking each morning to the class. He always stood out in my mind, it was rainy that fall and I often had a miserable look on my face trudging through rain and mud to get to an early class. It so happened that every time it rained Alex would walk pass me on the way back from class, he would always smile at me and say "Lovely weather isn't it" without a hint of sarcasm, if yes, the rain was great.

    A few months later I was formally introduced to him in the dining hall, to say we were instant friends was an understatement. As you know Alex was a great at making friends and instantly could make you feel comfortable talking about anything.

    The majority of my freshman year was spent hanging out with Alex, exploring Tuscaloosa together. He invited my to my first college party and was concerned when I went missing from the area we were hanging out in. He had a single room which was very different than the 5 person suite I lived in. I often retreated to his room to study, he would quiz me for hours without caring about the subject, and once told me that I was only studying for tests and not to learn. That if i studied to learn i would be much better off... this was probably the most valuable school lesson I ever learned.

    On top of all of this he taught me how to love and enjoy life. How to really live life and to now be afraid of the unknown. He was an amazing friend who was patient, let you make mistakes whether trying a new sport, learning to skate board, or dating guys that Alex didn't agree with. Yet, with every mistake he was there to pick you up from it.

    We stayed close friends throughout college and unfortunately have lost touch over the past two years.

    He truly was an amazing person and friend and will be missed by everyone who has ever met him. May his spirit live on in all of us and may he rest in peace!

    Thank you again for posting this in his memory.

    -B

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  17. Condolences Sam.
    Very sorry to hear this.

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  18. Sam, I don't know you, but I did know Alex very well. He was my, for lack of better term significant other (aka boyfriend) when I was working on my PhD at Alabama, and then my first year living here in Texas. He is everything you described him as and one of the most vibrant people I knew. He lived life to the fullest and took every opportunity for all it was worth. He taught me a lot about life and living and I feel so blessed to have known him.

    Your sailing story reminds me of one of my own sailing experiences with him. i can't remember when it happened, whether I was staying in Houston for the summer, or was simply visiting from Alabama or South Texas, but we had decided to go sailing. I was fairly a novice at it, and we had made our way into the ship channel in Kemah heading out to Galveston Bay. He was giving me directions (aka orders) in typical Alex fashion and I somehow did something very wrong and dislodged the boom from the mast when trying to raise the sail. He then told me to take the tiller, which I did, but I didn't quite get the mechanics of steering a boat using a tiller so soon we were doing circles (aka donuts) in the middle of the ship channel with rather large boats coming at us. In typical Alex fashion, he was the calm in the midst of the storm , and quickly reattached the boom to the mast, and came to our rescue to steer us straight and avoid being creamed by passing boats. Any ordinary soul would most likely have (as Alex liked to say "flipped their shit") but not Alex. Cool, calm, and collected, like his role model Superman, he fixed the problem and then we were left to sail around the bay and enjoy the rest of the gorgeous afternoon/evening. You captured him beautifully in your post and you are right. He will be missed and he was a vibrant star in the sky for so many people and many will be left with holes in their hearts, but wonderful memories. A life taken too soon, but one who enjoyed the life he had to the fullest. Thanks for the post and sharing your memories:-) Hannah

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  19. Thanks for your post, Sam. Perhaps we met at a "DorkFest" once, or perhaps not. I really appreciate your descriptions of Alex. He was my best guy friend in high school. We did absolutely everything together, all the time. Awkwardly enough, we were referred to by mutual friends as Alex 'n Alex. I could share so many awkward funny moments here, but I want to leave you with one key story that makes me laugh every time I think about it.
    Picture this:
    It was about 7:25 a.m. Swim practice had just ended. I had only known him for a short period of time in this particular moment. My friend Hillary and I were in her two-toned blue suburban headed back to Duchesne (our high school) feeling under-oxygenated, aerobically fatigued, and just downright tired. Staring blankly at the road ahead, we came to a traffic light. Songs on the radio were songs like Smooth by Santana and Genie in a Bottle by Christina Aguilera. Feeling very mellow and overly chlorinated, I caught something large approaching the car from the gas station on the passenger’s side where I was seated. I turned to see what it was, as did Hillary. I saw a large figure running towards the suburban at FULL SPEED. The next thing I knew, I was sharing the driver’s seat with Hillary! and both of us were yelling at the top of our lungs!! Alex had jumped onto the sideboard of the suburban, grabbed a hold of the roof rack, and was rocking the entire thing like a giant baby cradle. Alex thought it was so funny.
    His antics will be missed. He was an incredible person and an even better friend. I loved him dearly and will never forget him. Thank you, Sam, for sharing your memories. ~Alexandra

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