First I trolled all over the internet, digging away at remembered details, fretting that perhaps Brianne had married and I had no hope of finding her with her maiden name.
Failing there, I traversed the vasty wilderness of Facebook and LinkedIn, sending at least a dozen messages to strangers who might have been my Brianne, but weren’t.
Next, I called my old employer, using a wee bit of subterfuge, looking for Brianne. Alas, they only keep records the seven years the law requires. Double alas, the person in Human Resources wasn’t employed there in 2003 when I worked there alongside Brianne.
Not to be thwarted, when the prevailing feeling in the poll was that I hadn’t tried hard enough, I tried harder, and spent a little money. I paid to pull background information on likely prospects. One made my hopes soar. Her age was right, born in 1977. Her middle name was Brianne, which rang a bell for me. I seemed to remember that, like me, Brianne used her middle name instead of her first for many things. Her address for the period I knew Briann matched my memory of the neighborhood in Temple Terrace, Florida. More importantly, there was an address history going back to the 1990s. There, I was sure, I would find her family, and through her family, I would find her.
I did. After a fashion.
Before I got on the phone and started calling strangers, I did a search of her name and her childhood hometown. What I found was heartbreaking to say the least. It explains why she just didn’t seem to exist on the internet. It explains why we “lost touch” in late 2004.
Now I know how to spell her name. What I still have to figure out is how to word the dedication. If this were a story in a book, I would throw it against the wall in anger and rail against the author. Truth being a bit crueler and more pragmatic than fiction, I’ll try to make it matter that the book she liked enough to keep a printout of will be going to press with her name in it. Thanks to Brianne it has a happy ending. She said it had to. She said it wasn’t fair if Bernie and Meda didn’t get a happy ending. She was right.