Thoughts on the Death of a Friend

Lindsay was with us the first time we looked at the space that was to become our bakery. We huddled together on the window sill (the heat had been turned off and it was early Spring) while Alan and our future landlord walked through the space, Alan eye-balling where the ovens and equipment would go (the man’s spatial acuity astonishes me) and the landlord assuring him that we could take out the dropped ceiling and paint over the ugly red and black colour scheme.

“No, I think it’ll work,” Lindsay assured me. “I mean it’s ugly now, but…”

And he was right, both about the ugliness and the fact that it would work.

To get us into the Sunday Market when we first opened, Lindsay shared his tent with us. And drove me and a stupefying amount of bread to the first food festival we participated in.

Lindsay made pastries. Gorgeous, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth croissants and danishes that were so good that the last time we went to Paris, we didn’t bother buying any of the croissants there because we knew they wouldn’t be as good. We set up next to each other at the height of the gluten-free phase and commiserated with each other over the people who jumped on the bandwagon and couldn’t understand why we couldn’t do what we were doing only just without the gluten (hint: it’s the gluten that makes it so good).

We also commiserated when the buskers would set up, knowing the standard four guitar chords and sing dirge after dirge after rock anthem dirge.

And Wagon Wheel.

Is there some rule that says that every busker everywhere has to know Wagon Wheel and sing it at least three times in a two-hour set? Because I think there is a rule.

We both hated that song so much that if I were anywhere and Lindsay wasn’t there and someone launched into it, I would take a video clip and send it to him, texting, “DUUUUDE! THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG!!!!”

Lindsay had a wicked, sarcastic sense of humour, much like mine. He was also very sensitive to peoples’ feelings. So he would say something rudely funny to me and then a few minutes later come running over waving his hands and saying, “Sorry, sorry, sorry! I didn’t mean it!” which I often found as funny as the original comment.

Time went on. Our businesses grew. And eventually, Lindsay needed a break. The stress was making him sick. He wound down his business, moved out of town and took a Monday-to-Friday job. We kept in touch, sporadically. We had the sense that he needed to withdraw awhile and we respected that. Alan would check in occasionally and I would send him a text whenever someone sang Wagon Wheel. We figured we’d get together this summer, catch up on life and move forward from there. Lindsay was five years younger than me. We thought we had time.

Alan texted him mid-January. Things were good. He was making a batch of jam. Two weeks later we were at the bakery. I came back from the bathroom to find Alan staring at his phone.

“Did you know about this?” he asked, thrusting it at me.

It was Lindsay’s obituary.

“No,”  I said, starting to cry.

We had run out of time.

You expect people who are older than you to die first. Even though life proves repeatedly that there’s no basis for that assumption. You expect the people you see today to still be there tomorrow, no matter how many times life says nope.

The shock that ran through our little community spurred us on. Dinner dates changed from “we should get together sometime” to “how’s Thursday work for you?” Alan has been hugged so hard the last few weeks he’s starting to feel dented. I’ll likely ease off soon.

Lindsay’s death reminded me once again that life is uncertain. That now is the time to tell your loved ones that you love them, or at least invite them over for dinner if I love you is too awkward. Get it in before life has a chance to say nope.

It also made me think about the whole ‘leave a legacy’ thing that the Life Coaches are so big on right now. We are told to think about our legacy and build it. As though it’s something we have control over. As though we get to decide what people remember us for.

And yes, Lindsay will be remembered for his baking,  the skill and the care that went into each and every danish, croissant and mince pie. And that’s cool. Baking was a huge part of his life and he should be remembered for it. We all build a body of work of one kind or another.

But when I think of Lindsay’s legacy, I will think of our gleeful hatred for Wagon Wheel. And every time I’m about to dig into a plate of greens, I will hear his voice in my head saying, “Oh, just eat your salad and be sad!” and then, a minute later, “Sorry, sorry, sorry, I know you’re doing it for your health. I didn’t mean it!”

Don’t worry about your legacy. I think we’d all be astonished by what people will remember us for, the random moments we can’t control. Do the work that’s in you to do, love your friends, have them round for dinner, text them when you hear your song, laugh at their jokes as much as you can until life says nope.


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21 Responses to Thoughts on the Death of a Friend

  1. Tim Dwyer says:

    Sorry to hear about Lindsay.
    And what a wonderful tribute to him and to life. I’m sending you both cyber hugs…they won’t dent either of you.

  2. Pam says:

    Of course, I am over here when this happened and cried and had no one to talk to who knew Lindsay. Everything you say in your writing is so true and so much more. When I had to move stuff out of my Mom’s house to my Farm, Lindsay came and helped pack up the trailer after the SlowFood Market, along with a couple of other great people. I have a stash of his Mother’s canning jars he gave me lovingly and of course the Kombucha I sell comes out of the drink dispenser he “lent” me. I will still use it. He just flowed with the ones he cared about. Always generous. I miss him.

  3. Lynda Weston says:

    Strangely enough he floated into my mind a few days ago. I only knew him from the market but there he was in my mind. And here it is on your page. And as he floated through my mind, my mind went, “Nope. I still can’t get my head around it.”

  4. Nancy Hotson says:

    Always liked Lindsay and did a few coffee gigs with him when he had Tastes. I loved his sense of humour and his great baked goods, which I am really not suppose to eat.

  5. Sandy says:

    On this day in 2009, life said “Nope” to a cherished friend and my only regrets are that we didn’t meet sooner in life and that I might’ve loved her better while she was here. Thank you Barb, for the reminder of what is really important.

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