Grief Is A Weird Monster / Memories From A Life Gone Too Soon

    I recently had a friend of mine pass away. His life was tragically cut short by cancer. He passed on his 31st birthday leaving behind a wife and two daughters. Anytime someone passes away that young it’s tragic and not trying to take anything away from anyone else’s death but when there are young children involved and a united family it makes it even more hard to cope with. To help myself work through I decided I would write a little bit about him, some pretty awesome memories, and some ways it’s hitting me.

    I have never gone through something like this before. I have had people pass away who I knew and I have been to funerals but it has never hit this close to home. I never had to be sat down as a kid and explained that someone was here and is now gone. Obviously we all learn that and as adults you know that it’s going to happen but going through it takes it to another place. For me it has gone in multiple stages of finality and maybe there are still more coming, I don’t know, but let me explain. When I heard the news of the terminal diagnosis it set in that the end was near, which threw me for a loop. You see he beat cancer once before and then to hear that it was back and in a more serious way was tough to hear.  Then when he passed it really kicked in hearing that news. I had an idea on what that news would do to me when I heard it but I was way off, it hit hard. I spent that day telling Mama Bird stories about Mike. There was some smiling, laughing, and lots of crying. Then it hit a deeper stage of finality once I heard about the funeral date and time. I don’t what I expected in this moment but again it hit hard. Then came the funeral day and during the day I felt good, like surprisingly good which I thought was weird. Once we sat down in our seats though I started to get nervous for what was about to happen. Like I said before I have been to a funeral before but this one was so much different. When the service began and I saw his wife and kids walk in, the emotions started to come on like crazy. I had use muscles to fight it back to a more tolerable level. But once the service was done I couldn’t fight it anymore and as everyone started to leave the auditorium, all the tears were coming out. I just sat there frozen as though the final stage of finality sunk in fully. I was never going to see him again, he was never going to see his wife or kids or family again. The more I thought about it the more I cried. It was a very difficult moment but one that I needed to go through. It was weird how each step made it sink in more than before but I guess that’s what grief does, it creeps up on you like a monster. It helps me to talk about memories so I wanted a tell you some awesomeness that has to do with Mike.

Just Barely Escaped

    I’m not sure about kids nowadays but while we were all in junior high/high school would play ‘ding dong ditch’ or ‘nickey nickey nine door’ or any of the other names it’s called. You just ring a random persons doorbell and runaway. Just kids being stupid. When you do this as kids, if the person reacts and does something ridiculous it makes you want to do it more. There was this house that was just down the street from my house and once we found out how angry this guy got we rang the doorbell probably more than we should. This one night there was about 10-12 of us and Mike lost the ‘rock, paper, scissors’ game to see who would have to ring the doorbell. So that meant he was going up there. This particular night though the guy was anticipating us coming to ring the doorbell and as Mike was about 3 feet away from the door, the guy darted out of the bushes. We all scattered and ran. Once we got around the corner, close to the vehicle, we stopped running and did a head count. “Where is Mike?”. So we immediately we ran back. As we were running back, Mike runs around the corner full steam, yelling, “BOOK IT!”. So as he blows passed us we all turn and run to get back to the vehicle, pile in, and drive off. Come to find out that Mike had to use his athletic ability to not only out run but throw some dekes to out maneuver the guy to escape.

Live-In Art Gallery

    I lived with Mike for about 1 year around 2007 and one thing that stands out is how his house was live-in art gallery. He was a very artistic and creative guy and being that it was his house and he wasn’t renting he decorated it how he wanted. Whether making picture collages around a map of his travels, taking really artistic album covers and pinning them up on the wall, having different coloured light bulbs for different rooms in the house to create different moods depending on where you were in the house, using tape to create phrases up on the wall that could be changed once he didn’t like the phrase anymore, or with the more permanent phrase greatness writing it on the wall in sharpie in a really cool way. He also encouraged anyone who came into the house to be creative and artistic as well. For that he had a giant whiteboard that was about 4’ x 8’ that anyone could draw on. If it was cool it stayed, if it was ridiculous it got swiped to make room for new images. Even as he got older he never lost that creativity. Once he had kids he obviously toned down the crazy art in the house but still keep pieces of it to stay true to himself.

Personalized Touch

    Every year for my birthday Mike would custom make me a birthday card. Now this isn’t a weak piece of paper with some basic drawing that a kid would give. He went all out, got heavy duty card stock, and proceeded to create a one of a kind masterpiece art card. He would paint, draw, colour, or collage an idea together that incapsulated the year that it was. Then he would always write something really meaningful. For example, the year that he was my workout partner. The birthday card that year was a picture collage of workout images and phrases that all had a cohesive feel of the basement gym in which we worked out. Another example is the wedding card he gave Mama Bird and I which was painted and designed by him with meaningful words in and a really really creative gift, pieces of gold. One of the lines wrote in the card was, “May your relationship increase in value every year just like gold does.” That was the kind of personalized touch that he had.

Best of Both Worlds

 I managed to get a photo of Mike shooting a photo. He was always looking for the next artistic shot.

I managed to get a photo of Mike shooting a photo. He was always looking for the next artistic shot.

    It’s not too often that you find someone who is so incredibly creative and incredibly athletic. Usually it’s one dominating over the other but with Mike he EXCELLED in both worlds. For every creative, heart warming, inspiring thing he could create, he could also bust off pull ups in his garage gym, drop dimes with his magic shot in basketball, or bike for kilometres on end and he did it all with a style you wouldn’t expect from a creative.

    I could keep going on and on with stories about Mike but I will leave it there. Mike, although you are gone, you will not be forgotten. I know I speak for everyone who knew you that we loved the time together with you. I will especially enjoy the talks we had and listening to new music together. “Moment of Truth” still makes me think of you buddy. I love you and thanks so much for the memories.

- Papa Bird