The caller informed me that one of my best friends had taken his life that morning.
To say this person was a "good" or "best" friend was an understatement. He was with me at every juncture over the past 10 years. He was with me when i started running- my very first run. He was with me training so often in the middle of the night. He was with me when i asked my wife to marry me on a distant hiking trail. He was there when i ran the the coastal trails of Canada back to back. he joined me for the East Coast Trail in Newfoundland. He was there on the other end of the phone when Kevin, Charlie and i ran across the Sahara. He was one of the first visitors when my daughter Mia Sahara was born. He was there days after Mia took her first steps. He cheered when i made it to the South Pole. He offered wisdom when i created impossible2Possible with my friends and wife. He was here for Mia's first and second birthdays...she loved him so much she called him Uncle Pat.
He was an amazing human being who truly cared more for others then himself and proved it many times. His career and philanthropic achievements are staggering. I am proud to have known such a great man, and am saddened that the world has lost a true champion of others. I am especially saddened that Mia won't know her Uncle growing up.
Pat changed many lives- and touched many people. He suffered from severe depression, but none of us ever thought things would come to this.
I am writing this to celebrate a person who was a hero to me and my family. I write this in hopes that i will appreciate everyday i have with my family and friends, and how precious life is.
Please look around you, see the people who you love and love you back, and go into 2011 living your life to the fullest with the greatest appreciation. I know i will.
I know that is what Pat would say.
Today, the first day of 2011 was somber as i attended an event in Pat's honor at the pub he owned in Perth. An amazing hotspot of live music- it was "Pat's Place"
Close friends gathered and each told stories of their experiences with this great man, this great adventurer. What is so awe inspiring is how many people pat knew- and how many cared for him. He counted among his friends Phil Fontaine, Adrienne Clarkson, and the guy down the road who pumped his gas.
A number of years ago i was in his wedding party. The varied mix of people from all walks of life and origin were in attendance...it was truly memorable.
I was happy to be there today and speak about my friend. it was very hard to hold back emotions, but relieving in some way.
Tomorrow i head for the Arctic for a project i am committed to, and will be unable to attend services this week. I learned while there that many of Pat's other friends were in the same boat. One fellow who has known Pat for 20 years was on his way back to Afghanistan, others on their way to someplace in the world.
I have a feeling Pat had a laugh about that- he was always on the go- and wouldn't think twice of showing up wherever in the world i was !!!
When i attempt to run the length of the Atacama Desert this January, i know Pat will be there in spirit with me.
I , we will all miss him.