Some souls just burn more brightly than others; they are more there than most. Intense. Briana Baran was one such soul. I never met her, never heard her voice, never saw her picture. I only knew her through an internet forum, where I would eagerly seek out her avatar. But oh, how brightly she burned!
Can we truly get to know anyone through the internet, or, in the old days, letters? I guess it depends on the person – how reserved they are, how much they intend to reveal – or conceal. I don’t think Briana concealed much. She wrote prolifically of her opinions, her experiences, and her thoughts. She could really connect in a way that few others ever do. Sometimes it was a connection of the heart-strings. Or it might be a connection of the minds. Other times, it might be her virtual fist connecting with your virtual jaw. You always knew exactly where she stood and what she thought, and it was intense.
I loved her wit, her intelligence, her imagination, her sensibilities. The way she expressed herself was by turns poignant, sharp, hilarious or introspective, but invariably on target. I enjoyed her wicked, quirky sense of humor and the way she could twist a phrase into the perfect barb, when called for. She could be combative and fierce. She wasn’t one to back down or scurry away in the face of conflict.
I have heard it said of gravestones that what really matters is what’s in the dash. That little dash between 1959 and 2012. Briana’s dash was chock-full of experiences, relationships, challenges, pain, and love. She shared some of that with us, and it was every bit as vibrant as Briana herself.
This blog – Forming the Thread – takes its title from Aldous Huxley: “Words form the thread upon which we string our experiences.” Briana was a master wordsmith. She didn’t just string her experiences upon a thread for our contemplation; she wove glorious tapestries in living color. We may not have known Briana in the flesh, but we knew her essence through those tapestries of language and meaning. What are we, after all, but the compilation of our thoughts and experiences? And what are our relationships, but the communication and sharing of the same?
Yes, it is possible to know someone through the internet. To admire them, befriend them, and… miss them terribly. Briana, it was an honor. You made a difference. You are missed.
Briana’s full obituary is here, along with a guestbook for her family.