17 May 2015

Cystic Fibrosis has taught me the power (and gift of) speaking out on behalf of others.

I have spent much time evaluating whether or not to write this post.  I have consulted many people on this decision and given it much prayer.  In the end it may, in fact, not be the right thing to do.  But I also don't think it's the wrong thing.

Cystic Fibrosis has and continues to teach me so many things about life.  One of those is the power (and gift) of speaking out on behalf of others.  Over and over again, so very many people have done it for me - for Bennett - and for our family, telling our story and advocating on our behalf in finding Bennett a cure.  How, I have wondered over and over, can I not do it for someone else?

This post is about Brian's and my friend, Brandon Bostian.  You might have heard about him lately in the news.

There are so few people in this world who love trains more than our friend, Brandon.  Brian and I met each other more than 10 years ago at a campus church at the University of Missouri.  This is also nhw we knew our friend Brandon.  We were all a part of a large community of friends who regularly spent time together on and off campus.

Among our college church community of friends, Brandon's name was synonymous with trains.  He loved talking about them.  He loved thinking about them.  And, we all knew, his life-long dream was to eventually drive them.  Everything Brandon did in college was with the ultimate goal to one day become an Amtrak engineer.

After college, Brian and I became engaged and married (Brandon, along with many of our friends, came to our wedding).  Brian and I moved away.  Brandon eventually moved away too.  We all stayed Facebook friends but otherwise lost touch.

...Until one random day a few years ago when I ran in to Brandon in Washington D.C. of all places, at Union Station.

I was in Washington for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's March on the Hill, a time when I advocate on Capitol Hill for a cure for Bennett.

I was with my little boys (Avonlea wasn't born yet and Brian was back at home working) and my parents.  We were about to all have dinner together when I saw a familiar face in the crowd.  It was Brandon.

It took Brandon and me a few minutes to get over the shock of seeing each other in the most random of places.  Well, it felt random for me.  But it wasn't random for him.  Union Station was practically at home, for him.

Union Station is where the Amtrak trains come and go.  Brandon, now an Amtrak engineer, had been off on a break and was hanging out at the station.  In hindsight, instead of being surprised to see him there, I should have known.  This was exactly where to find Brandon - with the trains.

I remember really loving getting to see him.  Our brief visit reminded me why I liked him.  He's a sweet and upstanding guy, the kind of friend anyone would be proud of.

I introduced him to Oliver and Bennett, ages 3 and 5 at the time.  And I introduced them to him.  I shared with Brandon about how I was in DC advocating for Bennett.  He shared a little bit about his experience as an Amtrak engineer.

Our visit was a quick one but it was nice to reconnect - the way good friendships do.

When I returned home, Brandon contacted me via Facebook and wanted to buy a Bennett's Brigade t-shirt.  Brandon wanted to support Bennett.  He lived far away and we hadn't been in touch for several years, but that didn't change who he was as a person.  Brandon cared for people and Bennett, someone whom he had only barely met, was one of those who he cared about.  That meant a lot to me.

Brian and I are overwhelmed with sadness since we learned our dear friend Brandon's name was released as the engineer of Amtrak 188, the train involved in a high-speed accident that killed 8 and forever impacted the lives of all those on board.  We can think of no one more responsible or caring than Brandon.  This accident is a tragedy on so many levels.

Brian and I don't know what happened during the accident.  We haven't heard from Brandon since the accident and I would not expect we will for some time.  CF has certainly taught us about the value of being patient when a trauma happens.  Sometimes the best gift one can give a friend is to just be there, quietly and patiently waiting to help when and if the opportunity arises.

But, in the meantime, we are comforted to know about Brandon is the kind of person who would have done whatever he could to care for his train and the people for whom he was responsible. Ever consistent and faithful, if Brandon said he would do something, we all knew we could count on him to do it.  And, as much as Brandon loves train (which is a a lot), he cares about people even more.

Additionally, Brian and I are mourning all those hurt or killed while traveling on Amtrak train 188. For Brandon and for all those affected, may Psalm 34:18 speak to all those invovled:

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  


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  2. Peace to him, everyone who loves him, and to the families of the passengers. Must be so hard for everyone. I hope Brandon will be ok. Please let us know when you do contact him.

  3. Thank You so much for writing this. God Bless You and your family and God Bless Brandon Bostian. Since this tragedy has happened I have listened to every word and felt tremendous sorrow inside for all involved. I can't even imagine how Brandon feels (do not know him at all, only unfortunately, through reading about this tragedy)...but I believe he was a victim as well. I pray for him and all a board Amtrack 188. Peace be with all of you. Much Love, Donna


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