The news hit me tonight like a tonne of bricks. Brian Burke's son, Brendan, had succumbed to injuries he suffered in an auto accident. Brendan was only 21-years old.
The first thing I thought of was my James. I'm sure all fathers can relate to this reaction. I felt the extraordinary love I have for my son, and realized that's how Brian felt about Brendan. Even thinking about losing my son hurt so much I cannot fathom the sadness Brian is feeling. My thoughts are with the Burke family at this hour.
In November, there was quite a bit of coverage here in Toronto about Brian Burke coming out in support of his openly gay son Brendan. I purposely didn't write about that story. Instead, I wrote about the Leafs win over the Lightning. In the comments of that entry, someone asked me why I didn't write about Brian and Brendan. Here's what I wrote.
Brian Burke's son is gay. Brian Burke supports and loves his son regardless. That's how it should be. There's no story there.
As a father, I was seeing it from Brian's vantage point. I didn't want Brian's love and support of Brendan to be a story. I didn't want that to be newsworthy. I wanted that to be commonplace, unexceptional and completely expected.
In retrospect, I should have seen it from Brendan's vantage point. There was in fact a story there. Brendan showed a great deal of courage, coming out as a homosexual male while pursuing a hockey career as the son of a hard nosed "tough guy". Brendan was the inspiring story, not Brian. I was wrong.
That day, I recapped the hockey game instead of giving Brendan the credit he deserved. Tonight, for the first time in almost a decade, I'm not recapping a Leafs game. Instead, I honour Brendan's memory.
Rest in peace, Brendan.