Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I went to bed last Friday night with sad news consuming my mind. A friend from many years ago had died suddenly. It was unexpected and one of those moments that suddenly zooms everything into focus immediately.

I hadn't seen him for many years, but it didn't matter. Like many other old friends from a very formative and intense time in my life, just knowing that he was out there somewhere putting his own unique stamp on the world was reassuring ... and then he was gone suddenly.

The tributes, reflections and statements of shock on facebook came quickly. It was amazing to suddenly get a sense of the web of connection between so many people all stemming from this one very meaningful and dynamic life, a life defined by a tremendous generosity of spirit and an infectious commitment to making the world a more humane and colourful place.

When I awoke Saturday morning, tired from staying up late and corresponding with a few friends about our shared loss, my senses were immediately enlivened by the abundant signs of life in my own home... the smell of fresh coffee wafting through the house and the persistent thumping and distant chattering of my children playing two floors below me, the pitch of their excited voices more familiar than any other sound in the world.

I was drawn out of my own interior dialogue and forced to contend with the vibrant energy of my little ones embracing another day. The utter chaos of strewn toys and an almost completely emptied books shelf this early in the day didn't bother me as it might have normally; these to me were now sign posts pointing me towards how blessed I truly am, a reminder that life is often messy when it is expressed to the fullest.

In recent years I have often experienced a sense of restlessness that interferes with my ability to truly attend to what is happening right in front of me, though this was completely absent this day. I suddenly had no voice to yell, no energy to be annoyed or put out by anything; everything before me was something to experience, behold and consider carefully.

Throughout the day certain memories about my old friend began to resurface, often in response to various associations in my immediate surroundings. In a strange way I felt like he was part of my day, forcing me to reconcile happy memories from my past with a new and different reality that I needed to contend with more closely in the present. I was thankful for this gift.

A few years ago when I first started blogging my old friend was kind enough to post the following comments;

"You're a beacon. Not being ironic - Miss you, Matt."

The words were few, put packed a great punch, and were greatly appreciated at the time. They hold even more meaning now. All I can really do now is send them back, with an honesty and fullness of heart that I aspire to maintain even more so now when I think of how my old friend lived his life. So here's all I need to say;

"You're a beacon. Not being ironic - Miss you, Jamie"


Anonymous said...

Well said Matthew. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Jamie and a few of our old comrades about a year or so ago. Many of us had beefed up, lost hair, sported baggage and the like but Jamie was better than when I saw him the last time. Minus some cheveux mind you. He was still laughing, charming and sarcastic. He was indeed a beacon and I beleive he still is. Look how he has inspired everyone.

Jamie had a beautiful way about him. He was genuine and kind. He gave to others his entire life. How selfless is that? I understand you can't turn back time but I would like to go back to that summer luncheon and listen to him just a little bit more. We talked about our work and I remember my cheeks were sore from smiling so much. And of course there was his incredibly cool bike.

I have several wonderful memories of Jamie. I remember watching his band YOA and Dig Circus play. I remember his comical fashion sense. Jamie never took himself that seriously. We should all learn from that. I am really pleased that he, Pat Scott and I went to the prom together. I mean not as dates although he was a sharp dressed man that night with his near dracula like Tuxedo.

I have not been able to stop thinking about him. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Be well my friend...

Rob Chaffey

Omnipotent Poobah said...

Kudos on a fitting tribute.

Dale said...

A beautiful tribute to your friend (and to you really). It's never easy to put complex feelings into words.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm so very sorry about the death of your friend. I hope that there is some comfort in knowing that remembering his life has given you a renewed appreciation for your own.

Lisa said...

I'm so sorry for this loss. I understand how deeply shocking things like this can be.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I am glad you were able to cultivate a spirit of awareness and gratitude in the midst of the haze and fatigue.

Many blessings to you, fellow traveler.