"I love you. You doing okay? Love forever. Xoxo g"
After decades of writing postcards, emails, texts --- that was the last note I received from my friend, Gord Downie. Despite all he was going through he was thinking of me and how I was doing after the loss of my mother this summer.
He was always thinking, caring, working, creating, sharing, loving.
He was incredible and yet incredibly normal and simple in his straight-forward, no nonsense attitude about his family, his friends, his life.
And his art. It impacted me deeply. Maybe more than any other artist of my time. It hit me early in University. It stayed forever imprinted on me by the musician, the performer and the poet. His words broke through my barriers, found life in my broken spirit and spurred me to do better things. No arguments, just words with power.
And his friendship was powerful in many ways. We talked naturally about hockey, music, Kingston, Toronto, Lake Ontario, literature. When I started in the early 1990s practicing environmental law he wanted to know all about it. It was the "thing" that connected us even after we both left Kingston. Gord and that connection drove me to do more of it. From 1996 to 2001 I volunteered thousands of hours to investigating pollution crimes and prosecuting polluters. Gord was my biggest fan and let me know it.
In 2001, when I finally started my own group to protect water full-time, Gord promised to help. Since the beginning, he was always there for Waterkeeper; for the rest of his life.
One of my favourite memories of Gord will surely be when we went to the Onakawana River the day after the Tragically Hip's final concert in Kingston. Gord brought his boys and we went fishing for the week to get away and hang out. One afternoon we were hanging by the fire and someone asked Gord how he gets up every night to perform so powerfully and always connects with his audience. He got up and left without saying a word. He returned with logs in his arms. He placed two or three on the fire, shook up the pile and sat back to watch the sparks fly. We resumed drinking our wine. Enough said ... you do the work and the spark, the magic will take care of itself.
Love you too Gord.
I'm okay. But going to miss you forever.