27 December 2007


And so I cried

NOTE: I've now set up a memorial page for Martin, including links to articles about him, copies of the notes from his eulogy speakers, and photos from his memorial event on January 6, 2008.

I mentioned that yesterday, in the shock of hearing about the death of my friend Martin, I hadn't yet cried. That changed today, and what prompted my tears was something small that I'd seen earlier this week and forgotten about.

As I've done since 2003, just before Christmas on December 23, I had sent out a holiday e-card (a photo of my family) to several dozen of our friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Martin was on the list. He had replied with a brief, somewhat mistyped Merry Christmas message and a mention of his upcoming planned New Year's party, sent from his BlackBerry.

The next day, long before I heard the news, I had read his reply among others from our friends, filed it away, and forgotten about it. Today, as the snow fell outside and I was deleting some of the bounced emails from defunct addresses on my e-card list, by chance I came across his message again. He'd sent it at 11:44 p.m. on the 23rd, and sometime between then and the time I first read and filed it on the 24th, he had died. It must have been one of the last messages he had sent. I went cold. It was like an email from a ghost.

That was too much, and I went into the bathroom and wept. I blew my nose. The tissue was bloody from the side effects of the chemotherapy that is keeping me alive. Not much later, I cried again on my wife's shoulder when I told her the story.

Tonight my daughters and wife and I had dinner with Simon, the friend who told me the bad news, on the lower slopes of the North Shore mountain where he and Martin and others had once shared a house—and where Martin had hosted my bachelor party in 1995, at the end of a night exploring empty storm drains under the City of West Vancouver. At dinner, Simon and my family and I drank a toast to our lost friend. We're still stunned, and we weren't sure what to say.

Since my post yesterday I've heard from several people to whom Martin was important. I realized that for many of us, he was a pivot in our lives, someone who, though he never reached age 40, affected the kinds of people his friends have become, and for the better. Perhaps that is what each of us should strive to do.

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Great post, Derek.
I only just discovered your site, although your name seems familiar because up until a couple of years ago I was a Vancouver resident and we have mutual acquaintances.

It's a bit like torture, reading a post like this, because my husband died of cancer at age 38. Two years and 10 days ago. So I'm sorry to say I'm familiar with chemotherapy and its side effects and I'm a little too familiar with death. His memorial service was two years ago today, and there were many shell-shocked people there, wondering how something like this could happen. I was too shaken to cry during the memorial (I'd never even been to a funeral before, let alone organise one), and people mistook that for strength or maybe something else, I don't know. I have done a lot of crying since then.

But I also believe in writing about life as it comes and not just the good times. That said, I commend you for writing honestly, as my husband did while he was able. Treatment saps energy, and I'm sure it can be a juggling act for you at times.

Best wishes to you and your family. I hope the new year brings you good health and prosperity.
This post brought tears to my eyes. I am sorry for your loss. I hope the new year brings you and yours lots of love, luck and laughter.