We’re all just so darn busy, right? Busy with work, busy with family, busy with hobbies and sidelines and responsibilities. Busy, busy, busy. And then something comes up and we’d like to do it and it sounds like a great idea and we think we’d enjoy it but all that busi-ness intrudes and we just can’t seem to get there. Get to that thing we’d like to do. We keep saying we’ll get there. We tell ourselves we’ll get there. We tell others we’ll get there (to them or that thing or whatever). But then weeks pass and months and maybe even years and we don’t. We don’t get there.
And then it’s too late. And getting there is no longer an option.
This past week I lost a very old, very dear friend. Unexpectedly. R had a massive heart attack and died. He’s not much older than I am and one morning he kissed his wife and that night he died. Pretty much just like that.
R was a seminal part of my teenage party years in cottage country. If there was a cottage available (as in ‘no parents’) we partied. If there was no cottage available we found a campsite on the Bruce Trail and we partied. One night a big gang of us got ourselves to a different campground one bay over and when the cops arrived to bust up our little shindig we ran for our lives. Especially those of us underage revelers. I don’t exactly remember how I got there but I sure as heck remember how I got home. There was R (not exactly a tiny dude) driving his MINI bike, and W, my bestie who clocked in at almost 6′ and then me, hanging on to her hanging on to R for dear life. That’s right. Three of us on a MINI bike high-tailing it out of trouble. For about 25 kilometers.
And yes, trouble we did evade. We made it home safe and sound (and probably neither straight nor sober) and laughed our stupid heads off with glee and relief.
That is just one of my many memories of R. To this day I cannot hear the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young song “Almost Cut My Hair” without thinking about him. Because his absolute signature line was the first – “I will now proceed to entangle the entire area.”
I still have no idea what that (spoken) line has to do with the rest of the song. All I know is that line is R’s. Always was, always will be.
In subsequent years, with me spending less time at the cottage, R and I would see each other in passing, always wave with a cheery smile and on occasion have a quick chat. He got married later in life and I would then also chat with his wonderful wife. When I once again became a “regular” at my beautiful bay we would always talk about getting together. You know, for a proper visit. Cocktails, maybe a barbecue … something more than a passing greeting. Last summer we even tried a few times. Just not enough times I guess because it never worked out.
And now here we are in September, with summer threatening to fade into fall, and once again the season escaped us. We never got together. I would see R almost every morning when I did my daily walk and he drove past on his way to work. His smile was truly so large it lit up his truck. I hope mine was too, because it DID make me happy to see him. Every morning I was so very happy to see him. And every morning I thought “Yeah, we really do need to get together.”
But we didn’t. And now he’s gone. These past few mornings I keep looking for that white truck and that big smile. But the road is eerily empty.
I know you’ve heard it a million times. Don’t put things off! I know you even understand it on an intellectual level. I am here to remind you that on a very real and emotional level putting things off – important, life-affirming, heat warming things – can have dire and disheartening consequences.
We do not have all the time in the world. And even if we do, someone we care for may not. If you want something to happen MAKE it happen.
Next summer we will have R-Fest here at the lake, to honour this lovely and much-loved man. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like but I am sure we will all gather in love and friendship to honour a man whose impact was profound and perhaps not quite fully understood. I mean, I hope we’ll all gather. Who knows? Next summer is a lot of months away. Maybe we should have R-Fest at Thanksgiving? Maybe we should have had R-Fest while he was still alive? Heck, maybe I should have just tried harder to have my own personal R-Fest while he was still alive?
Live and learn. Die and learn.
Rest on a beautiful bay up high, my friend. Watch down on us, smile that gorgeous smile, join us next summer for your party and know that are sorely missed. And greatly loved.
Maybe one day we can try that mini bike thing again. You know, from cloud to cloud. I mean honestly, I’ll put THAT off for as long as I can. But one day …