Life. Funny thing, life.

Four years ago today, our good friends Juice and Sweets (Brad and Kim) were married in a beautiful, noisy, and brief biker ceremony on a fantastic, sunny day. Surrounded by those they loved. It was a beautiful day. Here is the video I made for them. It raised a smile.

It was a good day.

While this was happening, Nikki and I were waiting to hear if our offer had been accepted on the house we now live in. I got that call as they spoke their vows. Three quiet buzzes while I fumbled my silenced phone from my pocket, a few whispered sentences, and the deal was done! The house was ours! High five and a quiet happy dance on a table, while our friends sealed their own deal with a kiss.

Five minutes after that, while we were still happy dancing, I got another call. Literally, five minutes.

I smiled when I saw it was my daughter calling from the UK. I stopped smiling when she told me why she was calling. My 15 year old grandson, Kyle, had just died in a tragically avoidable accident: Electrocuted while climbing around on freight trains.

I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say, it wasn’t quick. Cousin Liam ran for help while cousin Cameron performed CPR. Liam soon returned at a run with Kayleigh, Kyle’s sister. Together they kept CPR going and fought on until the ambulance arrived and the paramedics took over. Never give in. Never surrender. They didn’t.

They did everything right. Couldn’t have done more. But sadly, some fights just cannot be won.

Four Years On

In a twist of fate, this tragedy struck on Cameron’s 16th birthday. Today is Cameron’s 20th birthday. I’m wishing you a Happy Birthday, Cam, even though I know you don’t really celebrate it any more.

On the first anniversary of Kyle’s death, Cam’s birthday, Cam arranged to meet friends and family at a local park to release balloons in remembrance of Kyle. They do that each year. That says a lot about Cameron. I can’t imagine what he and the rest of the family, particularly Liam and Kayleigh, went through that day, and during the years since. Or how they and the rest of the family have coped. One fractured day at a time.

Honestly, I can’t claim to have known Kyle, and I won’t. I left the UK a long, long time ago when he was only a boy. I have not seen any of the family in person since then, though we stay in touch online. As well, of course, as the occasional – now dreaded – phone call. But I will say this. Kyle left a huge hole. The entire family was rocked by his untimely death. And no parent should ever have to bury a child. That’s not the way it is supposed to be.

A wedding. A new beginning. A life lost. All in five minutes. Five. Minutes.

On that same day, around the world, there were thousands of births and deaths and marriages. Millions of happy and unhappy events. That day, and every day since. The world keeps turning.

Live life

What is the point of all this reflection? The point is this: Life is neither all good, nor all bad. In the midst of life we are in death, it’s true. But in the midst of death we are also in life. Enjoy the good, and smile through the tears. Live life to the full. Never give in. Never surrender.

There is much pain in this world, balanced, usually, by much joy. Love and live while you can. Live and love like there is no tomorrow. Because one day, there won’t be. And, when you are nearing the end of your own journey, those good memories will help get you through. You will need them.

So, make some. Go and hug someone. For no reason. Just do it. Put a smile on another person’s face. It feels good. Really. Give yourself, and someone else, a happy memory. Do it. Right now.

Or, maybe, at least within the next. Five. Minutes.

Pershing Square

New York, New York.

Two years ago I was alone in New York shooting a conference in Times Square. I promised Nikki that one day we would go back together, and visit the top of the Empire State Building.
Sleepless In Seattle style. She smiled.

Some day has come. We’re heading out.

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US cash

Cross border shopping, and fun with gas

Being the proud possessor of a freshly minted Canadian passport opens the door to a lot of possibilities. Not least of which is the chance to hop over and take advantage of the cross border differences between New York State and Ontario fuel pricing.

As I type, one litre of fuel costs CAD $1.23 at my local outlets. Across the border, it’s USD $2.50 per US gallon. My tank holds 18.5 US gallons, or 70 litres. Napkin conversion math says I could fill my tank for $86, or nip over and fill it for $67. Saving $21. That’s almost a third off. A free lunch. A no-brainer.

Or so you would think. Read more