New York Times Portraits of Grief

Brian Nuñez

He was one of those kids who turned his mother, JoAnne Lovett, into a regular apologizer at the principal's office. He's almost a genius, they would say, but would you please send him somewhere else? He's taking care of everyone's business but his own.

Smart, mischievous and scattered, Brian Nuñez took a while to find his footing. He was canny and cool-headed, more logical than emotional. "Play the cards you were dealt," he would remark. He had a comment for everything.

But in his early 20's, he began settling into himself. He lived in Staten Island and put himself through college. After graduation, he joined eSpeed , a division of Cantor Fitzgerald, as a statistical analyst, work that left him proud and exhausted. At 29, Mr. Nuñez was still solid with his mother and two brothers, and had grown into a tall, funny, dependable man with a girlfriend, Donna Corbett, whom he would kiss on the forehead and promise never to leave.

He was still a prankster, still blunt, still outspoken, but on occasion his heart would tiptoe onto his sleeve. At his brother Eric's wedding, Brian stood to give the best man's toast. And stood. And stood. Overcome with love, he was finally tongue-tied.