My pal Jeff

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screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-11-13-19-amI’m in Canada, again, sooner than I thought.

I’m traveling to see my pal Jeff.

Jeff is my hero.

Jeff is dying.

Jeff has a rare, wretched form of brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multiform. He’s been fighting it with courage, humour and strength, for more than two years. Saying “he’s been an inspiration” is like remarking of the Golden Gate Bridge “it crosses water.”

Jeff has the same cancer that hit Gord Downie, lead singer of the Tragically Hip. Due to Jeff’s condition, he was given tickets to the band’s last show – Here’s an interview he did with the CBC, the day after the concert. (Please do give it a listen: Jeff’s own words tell everything you need to know of his character.)

Three weeks ago, the day before Jeff was set to come down to FanExpo in Toronto, to visit a few pals who were at the con, his doctors told him his cancer had metastasized, and spread through his body.

“I have months left to live,” Jeff wrote, on his Facebook page. “I’m going to die soon.”

So I’m in Canada. Because I don’t want to go to my friend’s funeral. I want to see my friend.

Nor do I wish to eulogize Jeff. I want my pal to know what he means to me, and countless others, right now:

Courage, humour, and strength.

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Jeff’s two-years-plus battle with one of the most vicious forms of cancer out there has literally changed my life. I’ve never known anyone to demonstrate such character in the face of overwhelming odds. I’ve never seen the human spirit so defiant.

Rage against the dying of the light? Jeff kicked its goddamn ass.

But both before and beyond the courage, strength and humour, there’s that simple, all-important word, “friendship.”

I’m no great correspondent, and Jeff and I fell out of touch, for a bit, as we moved in different circles, once he left the tabletop industry (our great loss, by the way). These last couple of years, for obvious reasons, we touched base more often. It was as if we’d never been apart – just one more testament to Jeff’s warmth and character.

Many of Jeff’s friends – and he has many – are traveling to see him, because of these and so many other qualities that simply make him one of the Best People Around.

I was particularly lucky: I got to work with Jeff, to see him in action. Jeff was the the graphic designer for one of the Dork Tower collections.

I’m working on a new collection, at the moment, and I’d hoped Jeff might be able to put his deft touch on this one, or perhaps another down the line.

For obvious reasons, now, that’s wishful thinking.

But I did get a couple of pages laid out, and was able to shoot them off to Jeff, for his artistic approval:

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I’m traveling to see my pal Jeff.

He’s my hero.

I love you, Jeff.

-John

 

 

EPILOGUE

My tweets, Sunday, on my way home.

Rest in peace, Jeff.

Copyright 2017 Dork Storm Press