How does a teenager deliver a eulogy for his best friend?
If you’re Kevin Copeland, you do it with honesty, grace, poise — and plenty of humor.
The NYU freshman stood in front of hundreds at the Saugatuck Congregational Church Saturday afternoon and said goodbye to his longtime best friend, Cameron Bruce.
Just 3 months earlier the two were pictured in the Staples High School yearbook as the “Dynamic Duo” — the epitome of never-apart buddies, as voted by their senior classmates.
Kevin nailed it on Saturday. He brought tears to our eyes, and smiles to our faces — sometimes simultaneously. But hey — that’s what friends are for.
Here’s what he said.
Good afternoon everyone. My name is Kevin Copeland. I’d like to thank the Bruce family for letting me say a few words, and for giving me creative license on this one.
For many of you who know Cam, he was one of the most intelligent, mature, and well-spoken young men you ever met. He was bold, opinionated, well informed, and extremely polite.
Others of you may remember the kid whose favorite conversation topic was farts. I think it’s why we got along so well.
From the moment I met him, at the pinnacle of his spiky, blonde, chlorinated hair, we were friends. On the first day we met we found common ground in Led Zeppelin. He made me laugh so hard I peed my pants, and our friendship was set.
It was that strange kind of friendship that instantly makes sense, but grew over the years into something so much deeper. He came over whenever he didn’t have swimming, or trumpet lessons, or Norwalk Youth Symphony, or a deacons meeting, and slept over when he was allowed. We’d stay up all night talking about life, girls (the infinite mystery), other dimensions, and of course: farts.
I mention farts because fart jokes probably dominated a fifth of Cam’s brain. The other parts evenly split between music, girls, “Lost” (his favorite show), and zombies. My god, did Cam love zombies. Zombie movies, zombie video games, zombie comic books — it was incredible.
When he sat me down to watch any zombie movie, he took it very seriously. He’d say, “okay, we have to turn off every light in the basement, and it has to be louder, and we shouldn’t talk during the movie.” Yet he was always the one to scream right into your ear so you can’t hear anything else.
What really brought us together was our love of music. He showed me Shostakovich, I showed him Bad Brains. He showed me jazz great Wayne Shorter and I showed him Flying Lotus. (He had a little more sophisticated taste than I did.)
But we started a musical adventure that spanned our entire friendship, and every bit of it was amazing. We started a band of our own, and we would play for HOURS in my basement. We never wanted to stop. I can’t believe how my mom and stepdad put up with the hours and hours of high-volume rock music, right below the family room.
Occasionally we got out of the house, played shows at the teen center, and if I don’t mind saying so, we tore the place down. All thanks to Cameron’s contagious energy and spirit that no one could resist — and his inciting of giant mosh pits.
I think we can all agree that there is no one like Cam, and we were lucky to have him for 18 amazing years. He packed more into that 18 years than most people do in a full lifetime. Although we wish we could have him for longer, it was a true privilege to know him for as long as I did. Although we will always miss his joyful presence, I know that he changed all of our lives for the better. Whether it was his trumpet, his hugs, his dinosaur dance or his humungous smile, he made each day better just by being there.
But of all the things Cameron was a part of, I think the definition of his character was how hard he loved. He didn’t just like music; he LOVED it. He didn’t just have a crush on a girl; he fell in love with her EVERY SINGLE TIME. He used his whole heart, and for that I am so grateful. Because he is an example of how to love with every inch of your body.
I’ll never have another friend like him, but I am so so lucky to have known him and spent so much time with him. We weren’t just friends — we were married.
When Cam and I applied to different colleges, everyone asked us, “What are you gonna do?!” We said we’d be fine, because we knew that a bond like ours never dies. We were together all the time, and we spoke our own language. But even when we were apart, it didn’t make any less sense.
Most Friday nights we would stay in. When we weren’t playing music we’d play video games, eat an entire tray of Oreos, and watch some new TERRIFYING movie that Cam heard about.
And I can’t forget about my brother Chris, the third leg of the stool. We were the three Amigos. We would drive to Taco Bell in the unmistakable Volvo station wagon, listening to god knows what at incredible volume, just enjoying each other’s company, Cameron smiling from ear to ear. Most people never have a friendship like ours in their lifetime, and I was blessed, truly blessed to call him my best friend for 6 years.
That bond is still there. I still talk to him every day. I show him YouTube videos, songs, just chat. He’s with us everywhere we go. And although we have to say goodbye to an amazing person, we say hello to an equal spirit.
We’re gonna miss him every day. Because no one in the world could possibly dance like him. But we can’t have highs without lows, and we can’t have good without bad. And trying to stop our feelings is like trying to stop rain. We can’t control it, but rain is what makes flowers grow.
I know that he would want us to be happy and live our lives the way he lived his: full of love. He’s dancing right now. Just knowing that right there makes me smile.
Love you, Cam.