A year ago, when I started giving away hundred dollar bills to strangers, I imagined that some surprising and wonderful things would happen. I could never have imagined what would happen with Billy Brown.

I never met Billy, but since Monday I feel like she’s been with me. Monday was the day I met Kate, who told me about Billy when I asked how she came to be majoring in violin at Portland State. I learned that Billy was a beloved teacher and a talented musician.

Within hours of the story going up about Kate and Billy, dozens of people visited the blog. There have since been hundreds of readers, including in faraway places like Utah, Colorado, Georgia and Nebraska. Kate and Billy, clearly, are both loved.

A wife and a mother, Billy died 23 months ago today at the age of 29. My heart breaks for her husband and children, for the rest of her family, students and friends. Life can be so sad sometimes, and I often feel at a loss to understand what any of it means.

I have learned some things in the past year and have no doubt now that we ARE all connected, sometimes in deep and mysterious ways. The very fact that I was at PSU on Monday was the result of a series of miracles. Then I saw Kate. I picked her, out of all the people milling about, for my gift.

I said there were no strings attached, and it was partly true. In fact, I wanted a piece of her; a piece of her story to tuck into my heart. I got more than I bargained for. I got Billy, too.

I am so grateful to Kate for sharing her story. The ripples that are Billy go on and on.

Billy Brown



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2 Responses to The Ripples That Are Billy

  1. Paul Brown says:

    Thank you, Jill, for sharing some of Billy’s wonder with the world. She brought so much beauty.

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