Room for Improvement
Date Added: Sept. 7, 2001
Even the most touching of stories becomes more touching when associated with tragedy. The story of Brian Moore's tragic death is true and accurate, but he did not write "The Room."
About this story - I have some background on the author that I thought you might be interested in. Procrastinating as usual, 17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting. It was his turn to lead the discussion so he sat down andwrote.
He showed the essay, titled "The Room" to his mother, Beth, before he headed out the door. "I wowed 'em." he later told his father, Bruce. "It's a killer. It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote." It also was the last.
Brian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teays Valley High School. Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them - the crepe paper that had adorned his locker during his senior football season, notes from classmates and teachers, his homework.
Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen's life. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. "It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there." Mr. Moore said.
Brian Moore died May 27, 1997 - the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County, Ohio and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted. Brian seemed to excel at everything he did. He was an honor student. He told his parents he loved them "a hundred times a day", Mrs. Moore said. He was a star wide receiver for the Teays Valley Football team, and had earned a four-year scholarship to Capitol University in Columbus because of his athletic and academic abilities. He took it upon himself to learn how to help a fellow student who used a wheelchair at school. During one homecoming ceremony, Brian walked on his tiptoes so that the girl he was escorting wouldn't be embarrassed about being taller than he.
He adored his kid brother, Bruce, now 14. He often escorted his grand-mother, Evelyn Moore, who lives in Columbus, to Church. "I always called him the "deep thinker", Evelyn said of her eldest grandson.
Two years after his death, his family still struggles to understand why Brian was taken from them. They find comfort at the cemetery where Brian is buried, just a few blocks from their home. They visit daily. A candle and dozens of silk and real flowers keep vigil over the gravesite. The Moore's framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it," Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death.
"I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven. I know I'll see him again someday." Mrs. Moore said. "It just hurts so bad now."
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings.
As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match.
[Full text omitted]
On May 27, 1997, Brian Moore, a 17-year-old student at Teays Valley High School, about 15 miles southwest of Columbus, Ohio, survived hitting a utility pole with his car, only to step on a live power line while exiting the vehicle. He was killed instantly. Hours after his death, his bereaving family found the story of "The Room" in his locker at school. The essay was read at his funeral and friends and family, in their grief, began forwarding it to others in earnest. It was published under Brian's byline in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch on June 1, 1999.
Unfortunately, Brian did not write "The Room." On June 2, 1999, the Dispatch, ran a follow-up piece in which they revealed that Moore was not the author. Rather, it was written two years prior by Joshua Harris, an author and, now, senior pastor at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD. "The Room" was originally published in the Spring, 1995, issue of Harris' "New Attitude" magazine.
In the Dispatch article, Beth and Bruce Moore admitted that their son, Brian, had told them he wrote the essay as an assignment for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "The Room" was re-printed in April, 1997 - just one month before Brian's death - as part of Harris' 1995 book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. "I'm positive he said he wrote this," Brian's mother is quoted as saying. "If he was here, I'd wring his neck."
Brian's story and "The Room" are extremely touching on their own, but together form an irresistible one-two punch. However, forwarding the two together propagates an unfortunate lie that has long served as a bitter and embarrassing scar on Brian's legacy for his friends and family. Please, break this chain.
References: New Attitude, Columbus Dispatch article (JoshHarris.com), JoshHarris.com