It was a decade ago that I got home after work and got the call. At around that time there was a bunch of things that happened. Earlier in the month a patron of our club got shot on his way home from our club. He was a regular and he knew a lot of the people who promoted through the club. He was walking home and was accosted by some guy who was carrying and as a result he never got home.
“Robbie passed away.”
I think I exclaimed some profanity and quickly realized that they weren’t joking. They were on their way over to the flat. I had just seen Robbie not that long ago. We had a few drinks and he was telling me about the problems that were on his mind. He was recently let go of his job and was suffering with a bulged disk in his neck. It was giving him a lot of problems and he didn’t look well. He was however optimistic that he was going to turn this negative into a positive. He was looking toward Christmas and spending time with his young daughter and the rest of the family.
I met Robbie at the local Mac’s in the summertime the year that we moved to the west coast from Ontario. I hadn’t started school yet so I didn’t know anyone. I’d go and play Street Fighter over there after finishing up working at the shop. We hadn’t yet opened it. We weren’t friends yet. That would come in time as I got to know more people.
Robbie, Zach and myself went on a “Cross Canada Adventure.” We drove from Vancouver to Halifax and back. It was a long journey by car and it cemented our friendship together. We saw the expanse of the country and visited the majority of the cities and provinces in this country. I remember that I wouldn’t let him drive and this became a kind of a joke on the trip. When I finally relented on a long barren stretch somewhere in Saskatchewan the car broke down. I was like “see I told you about letting you drive.” It was kinda funny and I remember that time fondly. This trip was the first time that Robbie travelled outside the province. We were still so young. Somewhere in our early 20’s. It may be that since I have been looking and scanning some old photos that these memories get triggered.
The summer of 2005 I was finishing up my Nuc Med studies. Money was tight and Robbie worked at that restaurant above Dennys on Davie. He always gave me some food when I needed it. I was still a struggling student at the tail end of my studies. Sometimes the money didn’t stretch as far as it should have.
When Danny and Zach showed up we had a drink and talked about what had happened. Robbie and Zach were hanging out while Robbie put up the Christmas decorations. After he went to sleep he never woke up. The precise cause of death… it doesn’t matter now. He is gone. His passing hit me hard. He was one of my best friends. We went through some shit together as youth and supported each other as we grew into adults and better friends.
In the years since there have been many times that I’ve thought about him. How it would have been if he were still here. Many things changed after that. I realized that time is short and if I am to do all that I want to do in life. I think I escaped into work in order to deal with the feelings. There was so much that was happening and continued to happen afterwards. It was a crazy time.
Robbie had a great personality. His infectious smile and manner always livened up the room. He would punctuate his conversations with grunts and sounds to emphasize a point or just to make you laugh. He was a great cook. We would often gather at his place, or his nana’s for some kind of BBQ or feast. We would sometimes go to one of the restaurants that he worked at in order to get the “chef’s special”.
It’s imporant to aknowledge the past but not to dwell on it. In a lot of ways his passing gave me the motivation and strength to carry forward. I wanted to transmute the negative into a positive somehow. I didn’t want to self destruct. We raised some money and held onto it until it was needed. The mourning went on for a while. Alisa and the kids kind of retreated as did I. I’m glad to see that she is doing well.
The funeral was well attended by all those who knew him. He had a lot of friends and many who will likely think of him today.