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"