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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Piece of Mind: Oliver

Feb. 19 (Jakarta Globe) There’s this guy.

I know, a lot of stories start that way, but this one has no happy ending.

There’s this guy.

We met in Galle, Sri Lanka, both crewing small yachts across the Indian Ocean. We came from the same land but very different backgrounds — he had a PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology, I’d left school at 15 when they wanted me to repeat a year I hadn’t much liked the first time through.

I transferred to his yacht in the hope that something might happen between us. It did, but it was not what I’d expected. We became friends, crewmates, occasional adversaries and learned more about each other than either of us would have chosen. Together with our skipper, we caroused our way to Africa, then, sans skipper, he and I traveled to Kenya for a few months.

There’s this guy.

We parted ways in Kenya and a few months later I went home, where I met and was welcomed by his family. I started university as a “mature-aged” student, and his sister, her partner and their sons were my surrogate family and biggest supporters. He kept traveling ‘til he reached the UK, where he met and married a possibly more talented person than himself, fathered children and eventually took the whole family home to grow up in the beauty of New Zealand.

Here’s the thing.

There’s this guy.

And he’s dying.

Much younger than he should.

He knows it, we know it, the best and the brightest tell him he’s already lived longer than he should.

And I talk to his family, who have become my family, and I try my best to not make them feel any worse.

And I also talk to, rail at, question and abuse the God (pick your flavor) that chooses or allows such things.

And part of me feels I should want to say, “Thy will be done,” or “Inshallah,” or whatever the head dude wants to hear, but all I can think is:

There’s this guy.

Can we please keep him a little longer?

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