This a tough farewell to swallow

We all encounter a wide array a people over our lifetimes. Be it in a social setting, religious observance, work or some other venue, we meet people — some that we really enjoy, and others that we could do without pretty easily. The majority of the people we meet are exactly that: People we meet. The extent of the relationship dies out after that first introduction, and we all move on with our respective lives.

Darin McCannDarin McCann

But some people stick with you for some reason or another. Maybe there was just a connection where the two personalities meshed well, or there was an instant level of respect at the onset of the relationship or, simply, the person makes you laugh, and you don’t want to let that go without a fight. Whatever the reason, you feel a deep connection with that individual, and it becomes a relationship you can truly embrace.

I felt that way the very first time I met Leo Brady.

For those of you unfamiliar with Leo, I’m sorry. He’s a tremendous man with values as deep as the sea and a luminous grin that comes across his face in an instant. He’s intelligent, he’s a big believer in giving back to the community and he might just be one of the kindest people you’ll ever come across. In short, Leo’s one of the good guys.

And now Leo’s moving back to Pennsylvania to be closer to his family.

I’m a little saddened by this news. When I was first told about it, the person who informed me said that Leo just wanted to move along and get out of town with little fanfare. I understood his wishes, and I respected them, but I share Leo’s inherent Irish stubbornness, and decided to write this send-off anyway.

See, I’m going to miss the guy. This is not about trying to embarrass Leo with one of those pat-on-the-back stories, it’s about how I’ll personally miss seeing the guy around. Leo was a sounding board, a friend to share a joke with and a moral compass of sorts. If he thought I crossed the line with a joke or comment in my column, Leo was certain to let me know about it. That’s priceless.

The evening I was told that Leo was moving, I remember thinking in my head that it was odd how sad I was feeling. I mean, we didn’t talk every day, or share drinks late into the night, but I felt a connection with him. It was about that time my digressing little mind began to wander off on one of its tangents. I started contemplating that unexplainable connection between people that brings them together or, on the flip side, pushes them apart.

Have you ever had a friend that you were absolutely inseparable with, and you don’t even speak with today? I’m not talking about one of those situations where the friendship dissolves after a bitter fight over a man or woman, money or a stubborn refusal by the knucklehead to even acknowledge that he ate your last Ding Dong while you were sleeping, even when he had a chocolate mustache on his stupid, moon-shaped face and ...

But I digress.

I’m talking about those relationships that just kind of disappear over time, for no good reason other than the space and time between you. For instance, I had a circle of great friends when I lived in Atlanta. We golfed together, went out for cocktails together and sometimes just sat around and talked or played cards together. For the first six months after I moved back to Delaware, we would all exchange e-mails and phone calls a few times a week.

Then every couple weeks.

Now there’s only one person from that group I still talk to on a regular basis, and he’s one of my best friends. But why did it fade away with the others? And why is my friendship with the one so strong?

Yeah, this is the kind of stuff I choke on every night.

I can list for hours the things I like and admire about Leo Brady. Of that, there’s no dispute. But the fact remains that I could also do that about a lot of people I respect and admire, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily feel the same fondness for them that I do Leo.

Whatever it is or isn’t, I’m just going to miss the guy.

So, yes, this is ultimately about me being selfish and not wanting my friend to go away. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad that Leo is going to be able to spend more time with his family, and I’m happy that he’s doing things on his terms.

I just wish that he was doing them here.

Good luck, Leo. You’ll be remembered by many as the inspiration behind the annual Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimoes event in Bethany Beach every New Year’s Day. To me, you’ll always be my friend.