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After several weeks of looking for additional information, I confirmed through my father, who’d talked with my mother, who talked with Brandie’s mother, that Brandie Weston indeed died in August in California. I don’t know all the details yet, but it appears that my former classmate was not only homeless and mentally ill, but also seriously ill (physically speaking) as well.

It’s been a hard couple of days. As much as I held out hope that maybe this was all a rumor gone awry, I knew deep down that Brandie had died. The Google searches, the calls to the coroner’s office in L.A. and the area homeless shelters had given me a fragmented picture of her life in the last couple of years, just enough for me to know that her last days were far from pretty. Although we weren’t close by any stretch, I still have felt some sorrow for her hellish life and far too soon death.

Brandie’s death is a reminder, at least to me, that we must strive to live our lives to the fullest, that tomorrow isn’t a guarantee and that the important things we need to do with our lives ought not wait. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t have fun or be happy, for in reality, all the important things in life, if we were to pursue them, should bring us fulfillment and joy and give us the opportunity to have fun.

So many of us want to be seen as special, as important, as successful in our careers and in our lives outside of work that we forget that life is about connecting to others and to ourselves in ways that enable us to be true to ourselves. For all of the horror of Brandie’s last years and months, the one thing that might have been the most heart-wrenching of all was her giving up on herself, her dreams, her ever connecting to another human being in a fulfilling and wonderful way.

Brandie is a character in Boy At The Window, a character that won’t be revised as a result of her sad end. She confirmed much about the value of taking an optimistic approach to life. But she also confirmed how life can run each of us over when the mind and heart betray us, when by will or force end up living life in our heads, in our imaginations, in our hopes or dream or nightmares. I managed to fight my way out of my own imagination ages ago, to temper my heart and head with an acknowledgement of reality beyond my own mind, as well as the realization that I could use the hope of imagination to change my reality.

Brandie in her last years wouldn’t get that chance. I’m just glad that her suffering is over and hope that in all of my searching threw her life that I’ve learned something about myself as well.