Thursday, January 17, 2019

Andrew

Andrew passed away on January 4th after a battle with nasopharyngeal cancer. It was a surprise to us, his university friends, a passing shot fired over e-mail, apparently nearly a year since his diagnosis. Those that could visited him at his house, his frame weak and thin, weighed down by the cancer, drugs, and radiation therapy. He kept a brave face, a rather deceptive face in hindsight.

I last saw him on December 12th, about a week before heading to Saskatoon for Christmas. At the time a small thought entered my head, that this could be the last time I'd see Andrew but I quickly dismissed it as we talked of foods he could try and measures he could take to make living at home safer. I was back in Toronto on the 31st when we got word that he had been moved to palliative care and would no longer be taking visitors, a concerning sign but even then we thought he still had a few weeks left, maybe even months.

His memorial was on January 12th, in Scarborough near his father's home, and I was heartened to see that it was well attended by family, friends, and coworkers, both current and old. I finally got to meet Andrew's sister, a figure whom he'd never given much detail about -- she seemed nice and appreciated everyone's sentiments. Andrew's father looked much the same though I felt like he did not recognize me. I was happy to see some of the old gang back together for the memorial. I gave a short speech which probably covered about 1% of all the things I could say about him, though of course I left out the stuff I nagged him about like climate change and Jordan Peterson.

Honestly I feel like I'm still processing Andrew's death, as if he's too fresh in my mind's eye. Not that I talked to him much in the past year, a fact that I lament somewhat now, though I suppose I was busy with my own medical and life goings-on. And certainly our personalities had diverged, something I credit to the different circles we frequented and relationships (or lack thereof) we were involved in.

But that he's no longer around is unreal to me. I can still hear his voice, hear his stifled laughter, see his grimacing smile. I will miss him, certainly, but he continues to be very much alive in my mind.