Humboldt

I watched the final round of The Masters golf tournament this afternoon.  I saw spectators jumping up and cheering when a long putt went in.  Such delight!  Also vivid was the drooping head of a player who had just hit his ball into the water.  And at the end, as the winner Patrick Reed walked from the 18th green to the scorers tent, there was Rickie Fowler, the second-place finisher, hugging Patrick and giving him such a sincere smile.

All of these were fine human moments.

Then the TV feed switched to TSN’s sports news show – Sportcentre.  There was a view of flowers on the steps of the hockey arena in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.  On Friday evening, the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team collided with a semi-trailer.  Fifteen people died, most of them players ages 16-21.  As people spoke onscreen, I felt immensely sad.  All those lives gone, along with their future dreams, accomplishments and loves.

It was time to show photos of each victim, along with a few details about them.  A woman read the words as the pictures went by.  She kept clearing her throat, catching her breath, and finally she could speak no more.  Just the photo of a young man … and silence.  I think tears were flowing on the other side of the TV.

More fine human moments.

As if I needed to be reminded of the contrast between the human spirit and the so-so of daily life, it was time for a commercial break.  Obviously I needed a certain brand of hamburger.  Plus who knew that a new vacuum could bring a woman such joy?

Flatness in a world of dimension.

It’s clear to me that the heart needs to be involved in huge expanses of my day.  Otherwise, where is the joy and sorrow?  Where is the depth?  Where is the awe?

 

Beloved

Craig Sager has been a courtside reporter for the NBA for 26 years.  He lived and breathed basketball.  And he died yesterday.

I was watching a video about him this morning.  He spoke to an audience, wearing a delightfully outrageous sports jacket full of flowers from the rainbow.

“I will live my life full of love and full of fun.  It’s the only way I know how.”

I stared at the screen. He was me.  I figured out a few years ago that my life was about two things: loving people and making them laugh.  Hi Craig.

Tributes have poured in:

“He was a way better person than he was a worker, even though he was amazing in that regard.  He loved all the people around him and everybody felt that.”

“If my dad was right and time really is how you live your life, then that son of a bitch outlived us all.”

“You could be on my team any day.”

“He gives everything realness.”

“Thank you for being you!  Brought the best out of everyone you met.”

“God bless you Craig Sager for your wit, the way you entertained us, made us smile and for your sheer will and courage, class and dignity.”

“Craig Sager may be the only man that could get away with those brightly colored suits and gators to match AND GET AWAY WITH AND OWN IT.”

“A life well lived.”

“When I think of him, I just think of joy, of smiling.  A dude you could have fun with, somebody that had pride but didn’t take himself too seriously.”

“Was able to take a joke, and able to give a joke, was able to understand what a good time was.  We love you Craig.”

***

I know that I’m loved by some people.  Many no doubt will say nice things about me when I die.  I’m not Craig Sager.  I’m Bruce Kerr.  We’re brothers.

Last words to you, dear man:

“Sports are supposed to be fun, and so I have fun with the way I dress”

“I try to get there three hours before the game, talk with the ushers and the security guards, the coaches and the fans”

“I laid in the hospital for months, hoping to do this again”

 

King Kong

It’s always been one of my favourite movies (the version with Naomi Watts as Ann Darrow) and I watched it again last night.  I knew why.

It wasn’t because of the rip-roaring adventure, nor the special effects.  It’s because of the love between Ann and Kong.  Pure and simple.  First she’s terrified, of course, and he’s playing the he man.  But little by little, the look in her eyes and his softens, the gazes linger, and it matters not that one is a human and the other is a giant ape.

When Kong extends his open hand to her, and she climbs aboard, I melted.  When he’s leaping from rock to rock, and holding her so gently, I smiled.  When he slips off the top of the Empire State Building, I cried.

It doesn’t matter who or what the love is between.  Time stops.  Hearts open.  Hands hold.  What more could there be in life?

Crying for Jody

Dearest friends,

When do I stop crying for my lovely wife Jodiette?  I don’t know.  I cried nearly every day in Cuba and now at home.  I’m crying right now.  I miss Jody so much.  She lets me know all the time that she’s beside me, and I feel her there.  But if only I could touch her, hold her hand, rub her feet.  I love you, Jodiette.

Part of me thinks that I should have dried up by now, but a wiser part respects a far deeper timing of love.  Oh my goodness, how can I write this e-mail?  But then, how can I not?  Oh life wife!  How I miss you.  It’s not that I need you beside you to make me whole and complete.  I’m just so sad that you’re not sharing the physical joys of this planet with me anymore.

(Long pause for tears)

Oh my dear.

I got home on Friday evening with really swollen legs.  When I left for Cuba, I weighed 165.  Once home, it was 185.  I sure didn’t eat that much food!  I went to Emergency in St. Thomas yesterday morning to get some relief and to rule out the nastiness of a new blood clot.  And I’m fine.

As I waited behind my curtained cubicle, attired in a resplendent back-to-front hospital gown, I broke down in sobs.  When the doctor came in to see me, she placed her hand on my back as I cried.  And cried.  She didn’t have to say a thing right then.  It was a precious moment.

(I’ve stopped crying now)

(Starting again)

How can I love another human being so very much?  It’s easy.  It’s natural.  It feels good.  And Jody deserves it.

One evening in Cuba, there was a street carnival.  Maybe 200 folks showed up to dance.  I enjoyed meeting up with some newfound friends from Sudbury, who were on Cayo Santa Maria for a wedding.  I also enjoyed getting deluged with foam.   It helped the legs slip slide away on the cement street.  After the festivities, I started walking home to the hotel.  In the dark, I missed a step and went flying forward, hitting my head, elbow and hip.  I lay there stunned for a few seconds.  The next thing I knew, Amy, Angel and Tristan were helping me get home.  As Amy supported me, holding my left hand in her right, I tottered down the road.  And then I exploded in sorrow for my wife.  Sobs upon sobs.  Being loved by Sudburians and loving my Jodiette … how marvelous.  Despite my pain and wooziness, the trip home to my room was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.  The Beatles were right … love is all there is.

***

Jody had a lot to say to me on the beach.  I expect that some of you believe that I’m just talking to myself, and it’s fine if you think that.  But that is not my experience.  Here are some words from my darling:

But I am with you, dear husband.  I’m holding you as you speak.  You so much deserve all the beauty of your resort.  I’m marvelously happy for you.  My blessings, dear one.

(More crying)

***

Don’t worry.  I’m not farther away from you compared to the first few days after my death.  It’s just different.  You’ve largely stopped crying.  And that’s okay.  You don’t love me a smidgeon less than before.

I’m interested in your meditation retreats coming up, especially the three month one.  What will that do for you?  It’s miraculous to even think about it.

[Yes, I’m going on an 84-day silent meditation retreat from September 12 till December 5, 2015.  I also wonder what I will be like at the end of it.]

***

How I miss you, my darling!  Your touch, your smile, your company.  I know you’re in some fine place, watching over me.

I am indeed, dear husband.  I am with you always.  I caress you while you sleep.  I kiss your mouth.  How I love you, Brucio!

***

We will never be apart, Bruce.  And someday our physical bodies will touch again.  Go love the world, Bruce … Go dance on the beach.

***

And so I did dance on the beach.  And had many conversations with people from all over.

This e-mail, along with a few others over the last month, has gone to two audiences:  you wonderful folks who have prayed for Jody and me since November, 2013; and the people who read my blog at brucearcherkerr.com.  There’s much more that I want to say about my time in Cuba, but that’s appropriately said on the blog.  Listen in if you like.

For you local friends, I hope that you’ll come to Jody’s Celebration of Life on January 31, 2015.  I’ll e-mail you before then with directions and no doubt a few more thoughts about my beloved wife.

I was disappointed that the announcement of Jody’s celebration didn’t appear in the newspaper as scheduled on Saturday, December 6.  It did show up on December 9 and 10.  Oh well.

I’m not crying now, but I know that the tears will return.  I love Jodiette too much for them not to.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.  May you and your loved ones be bathed in peace and love.

I love you all,

Bruce