A friend of mine was killed on Monday afternoon. I could sugar-coat it and say he “passed away”, but that wouldn’t be the case. It wasn’t peaceful. It wasn’t his time. It was sudden and unexpected and left everyone who knew him in complete shock and disbelief. On a path of self-discovery and a bicycle making his way across the Southern states, he was hit by an 18-wheel tractor trailer and died instantly.
My initial reflex when I first started typing this was to say ‘a good friend of mine’, but we weren’t actually all that close. One of the many things I never a chance to say to Iain was that I personally considered him a good friend. I missed the chance to get to know him better, to strengthen the bond we already had, to make many more memories and enjoy each other’s company for all the years to come. I had immense respect for him. He was honest (so much nearly to a fault). He was generous. He treated women well, veiled underneath the crass and offensive comments he would make.
I didn’t think this news would hit me as hard as it actually has. I didn’t cry at all when I found out. It was right before bed, so after a chat about this with a friend of ours, I just went to sleep. But this has been the hardest week of my life to get through.
I’ve experienced loss before. Most of us have. However, I think we all realize that there are varying degrees of loss. I’ve lost my great-grandma, who was a wonderful woman but also 100 years old, who passed away in her sleep. She wasn’t sick, there was no pain. It was the best possible outcome. I’ve lost my family doctor and a semi-friend I met through through (as our two jobs intersected). They were both ill, and it came hard and fast and one day they were there and one day they were gone. Of course I was sad, and of course I wish the circumstances had been different and they didn’t have to go – but this feels completely different. I’ve attended three funerals in my life, but never once have I shred a tear when I’ve said goodbye.
This is the first person I’ve lost where I feel completely devastated. I missed work. I cancelled plans. I feel like I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve never experienced this before. I don’t know how long this feeling is going to last. I keep feeling like this is a sick joke, and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am literally never going to see my friend again.
This experience is also a really weird wake-up call. Iain died doing something he loved, on an adventure he was squeezing all the juices out of, taking a risk to do something in betterment of himself and his life. How often do many of us want to do something, but are too scared to bother for one reason or another? How many times do we allow ourselves to hold ourselves back? I think to some level, we’re all aware that no one lives forever and you will never know how long we have on this Earth.
If you died tomorrow, would you be happy with your life as is?
I couldn’t for certain say yes.
Something in me tells me that Iain found what he was looking for, that he had finally seen in himself what all of us friends and family had always seen in him.
I’m going to do my best to start living with less fear. To pursue happiness, in all its forms. To take a risk on something that could change my life.
But right now, I’m just really missing my friend.
Iain Edward Gerrard: 11/04/1991-14/07/2014