Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Goodbye, yellow brick road...

I have lead a life that been largely untouched by death. In 27 years, I have lost only three family members, and no friends. Today changed that. A friend of mine went out for a run last night, had a heart attack, and died, at the age of 44 years.

I've known John for about four years now. We met at The Historic Site Which Shall Not Be Named, where he was working part time while teaching. I was working on my MA thesis project at the time, which he was quite interested in, as his background was in history. He shared my love for North Bay Rock City, having also attended Nipissing for the Bachelor of Education program. Our paths would cross at work several times over the next couple of months, and we grew to be friends outside of work as well.

John was always up for a good time. He loved to grab a pint at Cellarman's, or to stop by other people's houses, or welcome us into his home. The Possum Lounge, his cool, drafty attic, was a wonderful place to hang out, full of hockey memorabilia and souvenirs of John's life. He loved music, as well, recording and releasing his first CD, Highway 401 Tonight, this past year.

John had a very generous and kind heart. When I lost my first teaching job two years ago after the board restructured, he went out of his way to offer me supply days in his kindergarten classroom. Oh yeah--that's also the kind of guy that John was: the kind of guy who was quite happy to teach in the primary stream. When I went into his classroom, it was very apparent how much his students just adored him, ahnd with good reason: he made up songs just for them, and created a strong, nurturing class environment. I can't even imagine how his little ones are going to deal with this.

I think what makes this so hard to understand and to accept (aside from the part where I just plain don't know how to deal with it) is that John was at the peak of his existence. And sure, it's a cliche to say that someone "was taken to soon" or anything along those lines, but it does actually apply here. A few months ago, John met a woman and fell hard for her. They had just purchased a house together, and given their housewarming party four days ago. I saw them at the Historic Site over Thanskgiving, and their happiness was so complete that it was almost tangible. My heart breaks every time I think about what she is going through now.

How terrible to be taken away from this world just as everything comes together. It is difficult not be saddened by all the missed opportunities; the unfulfilled potential; the memories. But at the same time, I can't help but think--at least he was happy.

Take care, John. I hope you know how much your friendship meant to me.

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