One of my best friends passed away on Easter Sunday. Though we were separated by thousands of miles, we spoke on the phone at least once a week. He was mere fifty six years of age.
My avid readers will recognize his name as well as his photo, as he has appeared in several journal posts over the years (even has his own label). All very raw and still in shock, I am struggling to deal with the loss.
As a result, I have decided to share what his oldest and dearest childhood friend "Howie" posted for him on the exact day my letter S was due.
I think it paints a perfect picture of this wonderful man. The words brought me to both tears of laughter as well as deep sadness. Words can not describe how much I will miss him.
Rest in peace Smartie. Keep my seat next to you warm and your wit razor sharp....Until we meet again.
Love you always xoxo ~ Rhondi
I miss my buddy
He’s gone. That’s
what his ex-wife said to me when I answered the phone the evening of Easter
All who knew Brian entered a new world in that moment.
So far, that world is one of shock, disbelief, boundless
sadness and equally boundless gratitude; feelings all common in the wake of the
loss of loved one. The shock, disbelief and sadness will settle. The gratitude for all he brought to my world,
will remain forever.
His laughter was matched only by his ability to make others
At the end of grade 7, we went on a class camping trip to
Bass Lake Provincial Park. As far as we
could tell, our teacher, modeled his classroom management style after Joseph
Stalin. From the perspective of a bunch of dumb, gangly 12-year-old boys, he
The camping area was a large, rectangular field. Perfect to
ensure boys tents lined the perimeter of one side, girls on the other.
In line with our teacher’s overall approach, there was a
seemingly endless list of rules. Among them, very precise direction as to when
all were required to be in tents and very ominous threats of consequences if
As 12-year-olds we had yet to develop much in the way of
foresight and probably worse, we had yet to develop any awareness of our limits
in that regard. Despite the dire
warnings we came up with, what we believed at the time, was an airtight plan.
Immediately after sunset and tent check, we’d leave our tents, bolt across the
field under the cover of darkness and visit our classmates with the utmost
confidence that none of this would stir even a hint of suspicion.
Once darkness set in, tent checks complete, the zippers of
16 tents rang out and the charge was on.
Almost instantly the flaw in our planning was exposed. Who would think that teachers would patrol
the tents after dark? Clearly 12-year-old boys didn’t.
Thankfully almost every one of us detected the flaw
immediately, dove back in our tents, with adrenaline surging but safe from
suffering the wrath of our teacher supervisors.
Everyone, that is, but Brian.
Peeking through our tent doors, there he was. His silhouette
like a gazelle, bounding on an open plane, all on his own, in the dark, cool,
damp, spring air completely oblivious to his solitude.
It turns out that teachers must develop an extraordinary
capacity to identify 12-year-old running boys in the dark of night.
But as Brian’s luck would have it, that wasn’t his biggest
In a highly predictable twist of fate, the world’s most
fearsome teacher spotted him immediately. We cringed as we heard him yell:
“Smart, where are you going?”
At that moment, the magnitude of Brian’s initial mistake
compounded significantly. For instead of
responding with something like, “I’m just running to the bathroom”, he chose
instead to announce, with a completely misplaced sense of sarcasm, at the top
of his lungs, “I’m going to an orgy”.
And to make matters much worse, as he was sometimes known to
do, he added, “where the fuck do you think I’m going, you asshole?”
It was too much for 12-year-old boys. We spent years
laughing about it.
And that’s what he did more than anyone I know. He laughed a
lot and he helped other people laugh a lot.
Equal to his ability to make people laugh was his ability to
build big friendships. He had more best
friends than anyone I know; he did it effortlessly, sincerely and happily. He was as comfortable with his 3-year-old
grandson as he was with the 93 year olds he was working with as part of his
studies to become a healthcare aid.
I will always be proud to call him my best friend as I know
many others are too.
The span of his musical taste was broad. Together, we saw
John Lee Hooker, The Clash, Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Talking Heads, The Police
(actually more than the musical kind), the English Beat, Flock of Seagulls, Eric
Clapton, the Hip, Nash the Slash, lost some/most of our hearing watching the
Headstones at the Rivoli and watched some dude throw a banana 125 meters and
land right at the feet of Joan Jett - an act of athletic prowess I have yet to
But his greatest achievement is undoubtedly his family. His son, daughters and his wonderful grandson; they featured prominently and lovingly in virtually every single
conversation. Each of his kids inherited his greatest attributes.
Among the many things uniting the human experience is our
frailty. None of us live perfect lives. We all deal with challenges.
All of us, in our own way, do the very best we can to
accommodate those challenges.
We love our families and friends and care for our
communities, our country and the planet.
We count on those we love in our time of need.
This was especially true of Brian.
I am grateful for every second he lived his life.
I will miss him for as long as I live mine.