Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Over 30 years ago a terrible tragic event occurred. My good friend Bill lost both of his parents in an awful car accident.
I had never experienced this degree of tragedy so closely before and wasn’t sure what my friends and I were supposed to do to help.
All we knew is that we had to rally around Bill and his sisters to help them get through the difficult days that were coming.
I remember spending most of my spare time over at their house for quite a while.

Bill had four fantastic sisters. Cyndy, Leslie and Lorie were all older than Bill and Lisa was the youngest. Lisa and my sister Hayley were in the same grade.
I knew the girls from school but not really well. They were all in different years than I was.
I did go to Bill’s house on numerous occasions but didn’t spend time with the girls. I was there to hang out with Bill.

If there could ever possibly be anything even remotely positive about what was going on, it was that I spent a lot of time with Bill, the girls and their family and got to know them much better than I had before.
Through that awful time I came to really admire and love that family and enjoyed being around them.

Over the days many other friends, neighbours and families dropped in at Bill’s house to offer condolences and drop off items of food and drinks.
I know all too well that during these times the last thing on someone’s mind is preparing food for themselves, even though keeping themselves nourished and strong is critical.

I wanted to contribute as well but what could I do? I was a young guy who hadn’t had to prepare a meal for myself very often.
However, I had an idea.

One thing that I really enjoyed was baking. I had made cookies on a few occasions. This was a good time to do it again.
I decided to make a pile of chocolate chip cookies from scratch and take them to Bill and the girls.
I am proud to say that they were a hit. They were very appreciative.
This was a huge comfort to me. It was good to know that in this time of sadness that I was able to provide something that gave them a little pleasure.

For years after that whenever I would run into Bill’s sisters it was almost guaranteed that my cookies would be mentioned along with the question of when I would be making some again.
I believe it was for Bill’s 25th birthday I decided to make a mega pile of the cookies and stuff them into a big Tupperware container to surprise them.

We had a big party at his house in Markham. It was a wonderful event.
I had not seen most of the people there for quite a while. I was living with my father out in Caledon while going to college in Etobicoke so I didn’t get out to the old neighbourhood too often anymore.
It was great to see Bill and the girls and catch up on things. I always loved being around those girls and their families.
Bill always has been and always will be a fun goofy guy. That’s why we’ve always gotten along so well. I admit that we’ve toned down a little as we’ve become older and gained responsibilities but deep down we’re the same as we were back then.
His sisters are all just as fun but in a classier way. I loved being around them. I wish it were more often though.

When the time came for Bill to open his gifts everyone gathered around to watch.
When he got to my gift he called out to make sure that Cyndy, Leslie, Lorie and Lisa could all hear that the gift was from me.
When he was done unwrapping it he opened the lid and called out “It’s chocolate chip cookies!”
It was so funny when all of the girls cheered.

As the years have gone by I have drifted away from making the cookies. It wasn’t a conscious thing. I guess I just haven’t had a lot of time for them.
I also haven’t seen the girls in a very long time.

I have a thought about these types of friends though. I don't think that years apart diminishes the way I feel about them. We may not be together very often but when do get together it's wonderful, and the friends are out there for the next time we do meet again.
Life happens. People move away. We have kids and lives get busier and busier. Nothing takes away from the way I feel about an old friend.
The warm feelings are just sitting inside waiting for us while new feelings of new people are building inside.

With Bill and his sisters I still feel the warmth for them that I had 30 years ago. Perhaps more so because it's been so long and I miss them.
But I know that they are out there and hope that they know I am here too.

I am in touch with Bill on a fairly regular basis and saw him when Hayley and mom passed away.
Bill knew Hayley quite well.

A couple of days ago I saw Bill’s Facebook status and it was like a kick to the stomach.
Leslie was very sick and was diagnosed about 6 weeks ago.
I messaged Bill as soon as I read it.
I told him to tell Leslie that if she gets better I will send her chocolate chip cookies. As many as she wants.
I knew from his reply that the getting better part was a long shot.

The next day I went to the grocery store and loaded up my supplies to make my cookies. It had been more than 20 years since I had made them but I wasn't worried.
On Saturday night I made a batch and they came out wonderfully. Not a single burned cookie in the bunch.

I contacted Bill and a plan was set that I would send as many of the cookies as I could by mail to his house and he would get them to Leslie for me.

I stuffed as many of them as I could into a large Costco margarine container and put them inside 2 bubble envelopes.

I wrote a note to Leslie that I made those cookies for her, every one of them. But if she isn't up to eating them all then it was okay for her to share with others. I would make more for her.
I was also sorry that I have not seen her in such a long time.

Early Sunday morning I went to the post office in the New Maryland Irving station but was told that I had to wait for noon when the post office would open.
I returned at noon.
The clerk asked how I wanted to send my package. I chose Expresspost and they guaranteed that it would be there in a couple of business days. That would be Wednesday afternoon.
And off they went. I let Bill know that they were coming. He would do the rest.
I told Cheryl that I wish I could see Leslie's face when she got the cookies.

This morning after I had helped the boys make breakfast I reached for my IPhone and opened Facebook. My heart broke.

Bill had posted...

"It is with a heavy heart that I must report that my lovely sister Leslie has lost her battle with Cancer. Her family at her side, she passed quietly early this morning."

I wish that I could be there back in Ontario with Bill and his sisters and Leslie's family but I know that at this moment they are surrounded by love just as they were over 30 years ago.

I hope that they enjoy the cookies.

Today I was in touch with Alex, another old friend of ours. I had not spoken to him in a while. Alex had heard the news of Leslie.

His letter affected me.

"Terrible and very sad. As you know, cancer is shit. Just the other day I was showing my wife the picture of you and Hayley posted on Facebook. As our favourite band said: We’re only immortal for a limited time. Be well, keep in touch, and hug your family extra hard tonight."


We are young, wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal for a limited time

Time is a gypsy caravan steals away in the night
To leave you stranded in dreamland
Distance is a long-range filter
Memory, a flickering light left behind in the heartland

We travel in the dark of the new moon
A starry highway traced on the map of the sky
Like lovers and heroes, lonely as eagle's cry
We're only at home when we're on the fly, on the fly

When we are young, wandering the face of the earth
Wondering what our dreams might be worth
Learning that we're only immortal for a limited time

We travel on the road to adventure
On a desert highway, straight to the heart of the sun
Like lovers and hereos, and the restless part of everyone
We're only at home when we're on the run, on the run.


Stay well,


Alex Voudouris said...

It was September 11, 1983 when Bill's parents died. Personally, I think that was the end of our innocence. Very well said Tim. Take care.

Alex said...

This is beautiful, Tim. I'm sorry for your loss, and for your friends' huge losses, too. *hug*